Libya Economy in the 1970’s

Libya, formerly a federation of the provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, became a unitary state in 1963, divided into the following ten districts, entrusted to commissioners appointed by the government (in brackets the population in 1973): Tripoli (5,709,117), Benghazi (331.180), Sebha (112.318), Gharyān (155.162), Zauia (244352) Homs (162.673), Misurata (179.316), Derna (123.397), Jebel Akhdar (131.071), el-Kahlīg (108.451). According to the 1973 census, the total population was 2,257,000 residents, an increase of 106.7% compared to the population surveyed in 1954. In the same period, the average density increased from 0.6 to 1 residents per km 2. The Italians, who had already dropped to 35,000 in 1962, were reduced to 1,500 in 1971. The urban population in 1973 constituted 23.9% of the total population; nomads and semi-nomads are still 25%. The population growth of the capital, which exceeds half a million residents, is particularly intense. (551,500 in 1973) and Benghazi, whose population (137,300 residents) Has almost doubled compared to 1954. Of the other cities, only el-Beidā (58,100 residents) And Sebhā (35,890 residents) Are configured as important nodes of the network urban area of ​​the country.

Economic conditions. – The economic structure of Libya is radically transformed with respect to the end of the 1950s. At that time, Libya had to rely on economic aid from foreign countries to supplement its modest resources, essentially based on pure subsistence agriculture. The discovery of the Zelten oil fields (April 1959), followed in the following years by other important discoveries, marked a decisive turning point for the fate of the country. Oil production from 8 million tons in 1962 rose to 150 million in 1969, placing Libya in first place among Arab producing countries, in fifth place in the ranking of producing countries and in third place among world exporters.

In the early years of this decade, as a result of the abrupt evolution that radically changed the relations between producer and consumer countries, the Libya then significantly reduced the rate of exploitation of its oil resources (production fell from 104.8 million di t in 1973 to 79.2 in 1974 and 72.8 in 1975), while continuing to derive huge profits from this resource. The value of exports in fact almost tripled between 1970 and 1974. The oil revolution had profound repercussions of an economic and social nature: the countryside was depopulated and the agricultural sector ended up assuming a completely marginal role in the context of the Libyan economy.

It is estimated that agricultural land still covers less than 1.5% of the country’s land area. The data on agricultural production in Cyrenaica, where about 60,000 ha are destined for permanent farming, show a certain stability; the agricultural Tripolitania instead recorded, starting from 1958, a progressive involution of the sector, a symptom of a more marked influence of the oil economy on the traditional life picture of this region. Out of approximately 10 million hectares of productive land in Tripolitania, 8 million are used for grazing and 400,000 hectares are cultivated. Overall, the olive trees remain numerous (about 4.5 million plants), and the production of oil (200,000 q in 1974) is usually such as to largely cover the internal needs; agricultural products exported also include modest quantities of peanuts, whose production has risen from 2000 q in 1963 to 130,000 q in 1974. The breeding maintains a relatively high importance (in 1974: 121,000 cattle; 4.3 million heads of sheep and goats; 120,000 camels), and feeds a traditional export of wool, leather and skins to Italy. Fishing plays an ancillary role: sponge fishing, a traditional and once profitable activity, has practically fallen into disuse.

The exploitation of petroleum resources (whose proven reserves, according to a 1973 valuation, would amount to 3066 million t, and therefore capable of lasting for over 40 years, at the current rate of exploitation) involved the setting up of a network of oil pipelines that convey crude oil from the extraction areas to the loading terminals and the coastal refineries. A 175 km double pipeline connects the Zelten wells with the port of Marsa Brega, on the Gulf of Sirte; other interconnected pipelines connect the Gialo, Waha, Samāh, Hofra, Mabruk, el-Beidā, er-Rāqūba, Ōra fields with the Sidra and Rās el-Anūf terminals. The Serir field is connected to the port of Ṭobruq by another oil pipeline of approximately 500 km. Natural gas (over 10 billion m 3produced in 1973) is also conveyed by methane pipelines to the liquefaction plants of Marsa Brega and Sidra, and exported by means of LNG carriers to Italy and Spain. Foreign companies interested in prospecting and mining have been partly nationalized and partly associated in partnership with the Libyan National Company since 1971.

The proceeds from hydrocarbon exports have allowed the Libyan government to set up control plans for the economy, and programs for cultural and technical promotion. In the five-year development plans that followed one another since 1963, most of the investments were initially earmarked for public works, transport and communications infrastructures, and national education; relatively few allocations to agriculture and industry. A considerable part of the income of the oil industry is therefore destined to the import of capital goods and consumer goods (meat, legumes, dairy products, etc.). For Libya 2006, please check

In order to promote greater diversification of national production structures, an ambitious ten-year agricultural development plan was launched in 1973: it aims to reclaim new land and increase productivity in areas already cultivated in the Gefara plains, in the Gebel. Aidar, in Fezzan and in the regions of Kufra and Serir. The current industrial sector development plan aims at enhancing the production of materials used in construction (cement, bricks, glass, electrical cables, pipes), the processing industries of agricultural products for food, the textile and clothing industries, as well as the enhancement of mineral deposits already identified (iron ores, phosphates, mineral salts). The road network has a total development of 3850 km, of which 1822 constituting the Libyan coast road. A road is under construction that will connect the Libya to Niger and Chad via Sebhā in Fezzan, and a road leading from the coast to the oasis of Kufra. Foreign trade (in 1972 oil constituted over 98% of the total value of exports) takes place mainly with the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and the United States. Imports (machinery, manufactured goods, food products, chemicals, etc.) in 1972 involved an overall outlay equal to about one third of the export earnings. Italy occupies the first place in the ranking of supplier countries. Imports (machinery, manufactured goods, food products, chemicals, etc.) in 1972 involved an overall outlay equal to about one third of the export earnings. Italy occupies the first place in the ranking of supplier countries. Imports (machinery, manufactured goods, food products, chemicals, etc.) in 1972 involved an overall outlay equal to about one third of the export earnings. Italy occupies the first place in the ranking of supplier countries.

Libya Economy in the 1970's