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September 2012

Libya

Libya

On Tuesday September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed in a rocket attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The U.S. and Libya exchanged ambassadors for the first time since 1973 in January 2009. Unrest that began in several Near Eastern and North African countries in late December 2010 spread to several Libyan cities in early 2011. After several months of fighting, anti-Qadhafi forces in August 2011 captured the capital, Tripoli. The Transitional National Council (TNC) on 23 October 2011 officially declared the country liberated following the defeat of the last remaining pro-Qadhafi stronghold and Qadhafi's death.

Libya (slightly larger than the state of Alaska) borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Tunisia in Northern Africa. Its climate ranges from Mediterranean along coast to dry, extreme desert in the interior. Libya's terrain is mostly barren, flat to undulating plains, plateaus, and depressions.

From 1943 - 1951 the United Nations (UN) administered Libya when it achieved independence. After a military coup in 1969, Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi took control of Libya. In 1973, Qadhafi engaged in military operations in northern Chad's Aozou Strip in an attempt to gain access to minerals. Libya retreated in 1987. UN sanctions isolated Libya from 1992 until suspension in April 1999; they were lifted in September 2003. In December 2003, Qadhafi began to normalize relations with Western nations. Libya's status as a state sponsor of terrorism was rescinded in June 2006. In 2009, Libya and the United States exchanged ambassadors.

The natural resources of Libya include: petroleum, natural gas, and gypsum. Natural hazards facing Libya include a hot, dry, dust-laden ghibli (a southern wind lasting one to four days) in spring and fall, as well as dust storms and sandstorms. Libya also faces the environmental issue of desertification with limited natural freshwater resources.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Country Page, 8/2012; 9/2012

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