The oil is the main source of the country’s wealth, which until the first decade of the twenty-first century boasted one of the per capita income highest in the African continent (over 16 115 $ US in 2008), but today, because of the war, dropped significantly (US $ 6,692 in 2018). Until the mid-fifties of the century. XX, Libya was one of the poorest countries in the world. Libya then had an economy traditionally based on very modest agriculture and livestock, and in practice it was dependent on foreign aid and currency revenues associated with the presence of British and US military bases. The era of oil began in 1955 with the first prospecting by large American companies; in 1959 the colossal Zelten field was discovered (Zlīţan), in Tripolitania, followed by numerous other surveys, partly in Tripolitania and partly in Cyrenaica. Vast Libyan territories were immediately given in concession to the oil multinationals, while the discoveries followed one another in a chain by the technicians of the major oil companies.
According to allcountrylist, the economic life of the country began to undergo profound transformations (including the almost complete abandonment of agricultural activities and an enormous development of the tertiary ones), which inevitably also reflected on politics, determining in 1969 the fall of a strongly conservative monarchy and therefore by now unsuitable for dealing with new realities. In fact, the advent of the republic soon took on the meaning, for Libya, of a reappropriation of national resources; in 1970 the NOC was founded (National Oil Corporation) and gradually the relations with the oil companies operating in the country were revised, some of which were entirely nationalized, others associated on the basis of joint ventures, but always with predominantly Libyan capital. The enormous foreign exchange inflow deriving from the sale of oil was largely destined to improve the living conditions of the country; Libya, however, did not only want to operate in the context of projects strictly linked to Western ideologies and models, but a national economic path was followed within the pan-Arab context. In fact, behind the search for an Islamic socialist “third way”, intermediate between capitalism and communism, there was also Libya’s awareness of being a country very rich in natural resources, but too sparsely populated to be able to use them properly. This clear gap between economic possibilities and real human resources was one of the driving reasons for the repeated – even if always unsuccessful – initiatives implemented by the Libyan government to establish closer federative ties with various countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Syria.
The strong immigration of labor, especially Egyptians and Tunisians, appeared as one of the most macroscopic phenomena in Libya in the seventies and even more serious was the lack of technicians and qualified personnel in a rapidly changing economy such as the Libyan one. genre. Subsequently Libya made a strong commitment to strengthen agriculture, abandoned after the discovery of oil and the ouster of Italian settlers, to create new industrial complexes, to create adequate infrastructures, especially roads and ports, to give a substantial boost to public services and to increase construction. The conditioning posed by the excessive dependence on the extraction of hydrocarbons and the need to diversify the economy through the strengthening of other sectors appeared particularly acute during the 1980s, when, especially following the oil counter-shock of 1985, a severe recession occurred. During the period 1985-93 Libya’s economy did not grow, also due to the embargo proclaimed by the UN in 1992 which caused a serious deterioration in the living conditions of the population and the functionality of certain sectors of the economy. In essence, it allowed Libya to sell hydrocarbons, but not to buy a series of technologically relevant products on the world market with the consequence that Libya again increased its share of oil production, guaranteeing revenues of the order of 7-8. billions of dollars a year, without being able to balance the imbalances produced by the embargo. A period of recession began, with high inflation rates, the increase in unemployment, the reduction of support for families in the educational and health fields. Only with the end of international sanctions in 1999 did new prospects for economic growth open up. The state, in the first decade of the 2000s, it retains control of almost all production activities; in general, the Libyan economic structure is clearly affected by an almost integral dependence on oil exports (to which those of natural gas are added) and is therefore very sensitive to market fluctuations: GDP to the increase in the international price of crude oil it has grown at a fast pace (in 2008 it stood at US $ 100,071 million), but today it has contracted considerably due to the war and strong political instability.