(State of Libya, Dawlat Libya, دولة ليبيا)
- Location: Northern Africa
- Capital: Tripoli
- Language(s): Arabic, Berber
- Population: 6,443,122
- Total Area: 1,759,541 sq km
- Currency: Libyan Dinar
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Alcohol is scarce and expensive as it was banned since 1969 when Gaddafi overthrew King Idris I.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 0.10 liter
- Most Popular Drinks: Tea, milk
Libya is located in the northern region of Africa and it has the Mediterranean Sea on its northern side. Nations sharing border with Libya include Egypt, Chad, Algeria, Niger and Sudan. One of the largest countries on the continent, Libya is also one of the biggest oil producers in the world. Libya has a long history and over time, it has been ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and most recently, Italy. The capital city is Tripoli and other important cities are Benghazi, Brega, Sirte, Nalut, Misrata and Az Zawiyah. Much of the country is covered by the Sahara Desert. At the moment, it is not advisable to visit the country as there is a vicious civil war aimed at toppling the government of long-term ruler, Muammar Gaddaffi.
The Berbers are regarded as the original inhabitants and setters of the country. Today, they still speak their own language and are mainly Muslims. There are also native Libyans and are descendants of Bedouin Arabs, although there is also considerable intermingling with the Berbers. Most native Libyans are also Muslims. Overall, there are more than 100 tribes in the country and a vast majority of Libyans are affiliated to their tribe or clan. Arguably, the most popular Libyan citizen at the moment is the Leader of the Revolution, Muammar Gaddafi who is known for his eccentric nature and is now facing the biggest opposition to his rule. Gaddafi has been ruling the nation since 1969 when he overthrew King Idris I.
I discovered that many of the meals in the country are made from cereals and a very good example is the dish called couscous. This is prepared from semolina and is usually served with chicken, beef and vegetables. Couscous is not unique to Libya as it is common in many countries of North Africa and even West Africa. There is also another dish called rooz, and it is made from rice, and is served with spices and vegetables. Fish is never in short supply as the Mediterranean Sea is close by and many anglers take advantage of that. One interesting fact I also noted with Libyan cuisine is that there is virtually no dish that would be prepared without making use of olive oil. This practice is also quite common in other countries of the Mediterranean region and is an age-long practice.
All over the country, it is the norm and practice to take tea. Tea drinking is a major activity in many Libyan homes and is often an elaborate and enticing ceremony. The Libyan tea, especially the red variety, is dark in color and has a very strong flavor. The preparation of the tea is in various stages and is not rushed. Apart from green tea, Libyans also like to take green tea, especially after meals and it is believed to help against digestive problems.
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Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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