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Safety Travel Safety: Africa: Libya

Libya: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Capital: Tripoli
Population: 5,368,585
Currency: Libyan dinar (LYD)
Languages: Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities
Religions: Sunni Muslim 97%
Borders: Algeria 982 km, Chad 1,055 km, Egypt 1,115 km, Niger 354 km, Sudan 383 km, Tunisia 459 km

Officially known as the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Libya has a developing economy. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws, and practices. Tourist facilities are not widely available.

Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with the authorities.

While Libya has taken steps to cooperate in the global war on terrorism, the Libyan Government remains on the U.S. Government�s State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Although Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism, it may maintain residual contacts with some of its former terrorist clients.

Recent worldwide terrorist alerts have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the region. Therefore, any American citizen that decides to travel to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel. In light of these security concerns, U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

Crime is a growing problem in Libya. The most common types of crime are auto theft and theft of items left in vehicles, as well as burglaries. Increasing availability of drugs has led to an increase of crime in the past few years. Libya 's beaches are the frequent sites of muggings and purse-snatchings.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Libya's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe in Libya, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, heavy fines, and/or flogging or other physical punishment.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Basic modern medical care and medicines may not be available in Libya. The hospital with the best reputation in Libya is the "Oil Clinique-N.O.C." There is also a new Swiss clinic and a facility withFrench doctors known as Medelink, but both are very small. Most Libyan citizens prefer to be treated outside of Libya for ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Libya is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service: Poor.
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair

The major streets in most cities are maintained properly as a matter of necessity since they are heavily trafficked. Many smaller side streets in urban areas, however, are in poor conditions and are seldom maintained.

Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor

The paved roads in rural areas are satisfactory, however, many rural roads are unpaved (i.e. dirt roads). Also, major highways along the seacoast and leading south merge into single-lane highways once they are outside the cities. These roads are heavily trafficked and precarious to navigate, especially at night and during the winter rainy season. The presence of sand deposits and domestic and wild animals that frequently cross these highways and rural roads make them even more hazardous.

Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Availability of roadside assistance is extremely limited and offered only in Arabic. Inside urban areas and near the outskirts of major cities there is a greater possibility of assistance by police and emergency ambulance services although they are usually ill equipped to deal with serious injuries or accidents.

Driving in Libya may be hazardous, and there is a high accident rate. Police enforcement of traffic signs and laws is rare. As a result, it is often difficult to anticipate the actions of other drivers on Libyan streets and highways. Wind-blown sand can make roads impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles. Road conditions are poor, and public transportation, which is limited to occasional bus service, is poor. Taxis, which are available, are usually on a shared-basis. Rental cars are often old and poorly maintained, and they are not recommended for long-distance driving. The sidewalks in urban areas are often in bad condition, but pedestrians are able to use them.

Please see also road safety information on Libya at

Directcommercial air service between the United States and Libya is prohibited. However, regular connecting service is provided bymajor European carriers. As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers to the United States at present, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Libya 's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at

Please also refer to the separate Travel Warning for Libya and to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

July 8, 2004 | Travel Warning

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