What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Libya?

Buildings of Ghadames, Libya, an ancient Berber city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Buildings of Ghadames, Libya, an ancient Berber city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Libya lies in North Africa. It borders Chad and Niger on the west and Egypt on the east. The Mediterranean Sea borders Libya on the north. Due to Libya's strategic location, it has an early history of contact with other nations. Similar to other countries in North Africa, people of Arab or Berber descent mainly comprise the population of Libya. Extensive intermarriage occurred between the Arabs and Berbers resulting in the present day Arab-Berber or Arabized Berber population. The Arab-Berber population makes up 97% of the entire Libyan population.

Major Ethnic Groups In Libya


The Arabs originated from the Middle East. They are the dominant population in both Middle East and North Africa. The Arabs arrived in Libya in the 18th century. By the 20th century, they had converted most Berbers in Libya. The assimilation and dominance of Arabs has made Libya an Arab nation. The Arabs have some distinct qualities including Arabic language, distinct Arabic culture, and common Islamic religion among others.


The Berbers have their roots in North Africa. The ancestors of the Berbers have thrived in North Africa for more than five thousand years. Across North Africa, Berbers also go by the name Imazighen. Some Berbers resisted conversion to Islam but a majority were converted. They intermarried with the Arabs resulting in the present day Arab-Berber. Just like the original Arabs, they too are Sunni Muslims.

Immigrants In Libya

The immigrant population in Libya is estimated to be at 3%. They mainly consist of migrant workers working in the oil industry. The foreign population primarily consists of people from Tunisia and Egypt. Workers from Pakistan, Greek, India, Turkey, and Yugoslavia also form part of this population. However, most of the foreign workers have returned to their countries because of the Civil War in Libya.

Religion In Libya

Almost the entire Libyan population is composed of Sunni Muslims. There is a small Christian population in the nation. In Eastern Libya, a small Christian community, the Copts, exist. Historically, a small Jewish community had settled in Libya. However, after the anti-Jewish riots in 1967 and the war between Israel and Arab countries, all the Jews fled Libya.

Culture Of Libya

Islamic culture is dominant in Libya. Elderly citizens and women still adorn themselves in traditional attire. The women dress in Hijab, which is in line with the Islamic culture. Among the young and modern generation, international fashion is dominant. Men mainly wear traditional attire during traditional functions such as weddings and on Friday, which is the prayer day for Muslims.

What Is The Ethnic Composition Of Libya?

RankEthnic Groups% Of Population
1Berber, Arab97%

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