POPULATION5,613,380 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$14,100 (2010 est.)
RELIGIONSSunni Muslim (official) 97%, other 3%
AT THE CENTER
Susan Martin on Tension Between Activism Against Sex Trafficking and Activism Against Forced Labor (Full Screen)
Libya is a complex country, divided by regional and tribal loyalties, though tentatively united by a common faith. Islam has long played a central role in Libyan political life. The Senussi religious order led resistance to Italian imperialism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. After World War II, a pro-Western Senussi monarch governed the country until 1969, when Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrew the monarchy in a military coup. Gadhafi did not hesitate to appeal to religious sentiments to legitimize his rule. His distinctive and despotic governing style included the establishment of numerous state-led religious institutions and the passage of multiple laws promoting Gadhafi's idiosyncratic understanding of Islam. At the same time, Gadhafi repressed Islamic clerics and Islamist leaders who threatened his rule. Following Gadhafi’s overthrow in 2011, Libya is embarking on a shaky path towards stability under an interim government. The role of Islam in the new state remains to be seen, though many emerging leaders emphasize the importance of adherence to Islamic principles.