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Demographics


Libya has a small population residing in a large land area. Population density is about 50 persons per km² (80/sq. mi.) in the two northern regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, but falls to less than one person per km² (1.6/sq. mi.) elsewhere. Ninety percent of the people live in less than 10% of the area, primarily along the coast. About 88% of the population is urban, mostly concentrated in the two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi. 50% of the population is estimated to be under age 15.

Native Libyans are primarily Arabs (mainly tribal desert Arabs "Bedouins"), Berbers and arabized Berbers, Tuareg. Small Hausa, and Tebu tribal groups in southern Libya are nomadic or seminomadic. Among foreign residents, the largest groups are citizens of other African nations, including North Africans (primarily Egyptians), and Sub-Saharan Africans. Libya is home to a large illegal population which numbers more than one million. Libya has a small Italian minority. Previously, there was a visible presence of Italian settlers, but many left ,Libya now is an independet state.


The main language spoken in Libya is Arabic by 80% of the Libyans, and which is also the official language; the Tamazight spoken by 20% (i.e. Berber and Tuareg languages), which do not have official status, are spoken by Libyan Berbers and Tuaregs in the south beside Arabic language. Berber speakers live above all in the Jebel Nafusa region (Tripolitania), the town of Zuwarah on the coast, and the city-oases of Ghadames, Ghat and Awjila. In addition, Tuaregs speak Tamahaq, the only known Northern Tamasheq language, also Toubou language is spoken by Toubou in some pockets in Qatroun village and Koffra city. Italian and English are sometimes spoken in the big cities, although Italian speakers are mainly among the older generation.

Family life is important for Libyan families, the majority of which live in apartment blocks and other independent housing units, with precise modes of housing depending on their income and wealth. Although the Libyan Arabs traditionally lived nomadic lifestyles in tents, they have now settled in various towns and cities. Because of this, their old ways of life are gradually fading out. An unknown small number of Libyans still live in the desert as their families have done for centuries. Most of the population has occupations in industry and services, and a small percentage is in agriculture.

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