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Libya


Map of Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Libya

World Convention is currently building a global reference for the  countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ Congregations. Of the 193 United Nations States, the Stone-Campbell Movement exists in 174. This listing includes other nations and territories, numbering 194 countries where there is at least one representation of our churches.

Rather than waiting for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up the details we have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact the World Convention Office with details at gary@worldconvention.org.

Background

The North African nation of Libya has the Mediterranean Sea as its northern border creating a narrow, fertile, coastal strip where the majority of the nation’s 6 million people live. Outside of this coastal strip 93% of the country’s 1,760,000 sq km (680,000 sq miles) area is taken up by the arid Saharan Plateau. The earliest known inhabitants were the Berbers, known to neighboring Egyptians as Libu, from which the name Libya is derived. In the eleventh century B.C. Phoenicians founded Cyrene and at one time ruled parts of Libya. Later settled by the Greeks, Libya became a part of the empire of Alexander the Great. Following the Greeks the Romans ruled for five hundred years before losing to the Vandals in an invasion about 420 A.D. In the seventh century Arab armies swept across Libya establishing control over the region that would last for seven centuries before being lost to Ottoman Turks in 1551. In 1911 Italy occupied the nation and 30,000 Italians immigrated to the Jefra Plain to establish a farming community. It became independent in 1951 and in 1969 Muammar al Gaddafi led a bloodless coup and established a dictatorial Socialist state. A civil war and NATO-led military intervention in 2011 resulted in the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Because more than 90% of Libya is covered by the Sahara Desert and only 1% of the land is arable, agriculture is largely confined to the Jefra Plain, producing some cereals, mainly barley; Fezzan, producing sorghum; and some dates and figs grown in scattered oases. Oil provides almost all the nation’s export earnings and one-third of the gross domestic product. The world’s largest water development project is currently being carried out in Libya with the Great Manmade River Project under construction to bring water from large aquifers under the Sahara to the coastal cities. Tourism to ancient Roman ruins, particularly the theater at Leptis Magna, is important.

Religion

Brief, historic pockets of Christianity have appeared in Libya but thirteen centuries of Islamic dominance in the region have left Libya an Islamic state. Colonel Gaddafi’s 1969 Constitution established the primacy of Shari‘ah, Islamic law. Ninety-seven percent of the population professes Sunni Islam.

Stone-Campbell Presence

In the 1960s American a cappella Churches of Christ missionary Bob Douglas worked in Libya. After that time several Americans employed by secular corporations, such as Exxon, lived in Libya and formed a small American congregation. That congregation ceased to meet when President Ronald Reagan ordered all Americans to leave the country. In the 1990s another congregation, made up of non-Libyan Africans, was meeting in Tripoli under the direction of a leader from Ghana.

Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
May 2004

 

Revised by Gary Holloway, December 9, 2013

 

Contact Information

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For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
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