Points of View

Timeline of Libyan History

About This Resource

As background to Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men, the timeline includes events from Libyan independence to the fall of Col. Gaddhafi in the 2011 Arab uprisings. The illustration is a Libyan postage stamp issued in 1977, glorifying the image of Muammar Gaddafi, the name Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamairiya [Republic], and his political philosophy expressed in the so-called Green Book, issued with much fanfare in 1975. The stamp continued in circulation until 2003.



Italy seizes Libya from the Ottoman Empire. Sanussi leader Omar al-Mukhtar begins insurgency against Italian rule.


Italians mount military response, imprison rebels in concentration camps, and execute Al-Mukhtar.


Italy establishes colony of Libya.


Allies defeat Italian forces during World War II and divide Libya between French and British rule.


Libya becomes independent as a monarchy.


Col. Muammar Gaddafi deposes King Idris in a coup. Gaddafi nationalizes oil, appropriates settler lands, and closes foreign bases.


Gaddafi implements a "cultural revolution" and renames the country the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah.


International incidents erode foreign relations and result in US bombing of Libyan military targets. Libyans are implicated in passenger airliner explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland.


Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia form the Arab Maghreb Union.


UN imposes sanctions on Libya in Lockerbie case. In 2003, Libya compensates families of the victims and UN lifts sanctions.


Libya/US relations improve. Libya chairs the UN Human Rights Commission.


Libya auctions oil and gas licenses, bringing US energy companies' back to Libya.  US moves toward full diplomatic ties.


Libya takes over rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and chairs the African Union.


Anti-Gaddafi protests spread from Benghazi to other cities. UN Security Council authorizes a no-fly zone. Rebel groups backed by NATO air raids and arms engage with pro-Gaddafi forces. In July, the National Transitional Council (NTC) is recognized as the legitimate government of Libya. In August, Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli falls. In October, Gaddafi is captured and killed, and in November, Gaddafi’s son, is captured.


“BBC News - Libya Profile - Timeline”, n.d. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13755445. Image credit: Photograph by sludgegulper under Creative Commons License at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sludgeulper/3003092892/

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #149: Timeline of Libyan History", March 21, 2018 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/149.


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