Libya profile

A chronology of key events:

7th century BC - Phoenicians settle in Tripolitania in western Libya, which was hitherto populated by Berbers.

6th century BC - Carthage conquers Tripolitania.

4th century BC - Greeks colonise Cyrenaica in the east of the country, which they call Libya.

Roman cities

Roman-era theatre in Sabratha, Libya

Sabratha: Ancient city prospered under the Romans

  • One of the three cities of ancient Tripolis
  • Founded by Carthaginians

74 BC - Romans conquer Libya.

AD 643 - Arabs under Amr Ibn al-As conquer Libya and spread Islam.

16th century - Libya becomes part of the Ottoman Empire, which joins the three provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan into one regency in Tripoli.

1911-12 - Italy seizes Libya from the Ottomans. Omar al-Mukhtar begins 20-year insurgency against Italian rule.

1920s - Libyan resistance grows as Senussi dynasty joins in alongside the Mukhtar campaign.

1931 - Italy breaks resistance through combination of major armed operations and concentration camps for rebel population. Al-Mukhtar is captured and executed.

1934 - Italy unites the provinces as the colony of Libya and steps up Italian migration as part of an eventual plan for the incorporation of Libya into a Greater Italy.

1942 - Allies oust Italians from Libya, which is then divided between the French, who administer Fezzan, and the British, who control Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.

1951 - Libya becomes independent under King Idris al-Sanusi.

1956 - Libya grants two American oil companies a concession of some 14 million acres.

1961 - King Idris opens a 104-mile pipeline, which links important oil fields in the interior to the Mediterranean Sea and makes it possible to export Libyan oil for the first time.

The Gaddafi era

1969 - King Idris deposed in military coup led by Col Muammar Gaddafi, who pursues a pan-Arab agenda by attempting to form mergers with several Arab countries, and introduces state socialism by nationalising most economic activity, including the oil industry.

Col Gaddafi

Col Muammar Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi deposed the king in 1969

1970 - Libya orders the closure of a British airbase in Tobruk and the giant US Wheelus air force base in Tripoli; property belonging to Italian settlers nationalised.

1971 - National referendum approves proposed Federation of Arab Republics (FAR) comprising Libya, Egypt and Syria. However, the FAR never takes off.

1973 - Col Gaddafi declares a "cultural revolution", which includes the formation of "people's committees" in schools, hospitals, universities, workplaces and administrative districts; Libyan forces occupy Aozou Strip in northern Chad.

1977 - Col Gaddafi declares a "people's revolution", changing the country's official name from the Libyan Arab Republic to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah and setting up "revolutionary committees" - heralding the start of institutionalised chaos, economic decline and general arbitrariness.

1980 - Libyan troops intervene in civil war in northern Chad.

Confrontation with the US

1981 - US shoots down two Libyan aircraft which challenged its warplanes over the Gulf of Sirte, claimed by Libya as its territorial water.

Lockerbie bombing

Recovered wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 in warehouse after crashing in Lockerbie

US accused Libya over 1988 Lockerbie bombing

1984 - UK breaks off diplomatic relations with Libya after a British policewoman is shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London while anti-Gaddafi protests were taking place.

1986 - US bombs Libyan military facilities, residential areas of Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 101 people, and Gaddafi's house, killing his adopted daughter. US says raids were in response to alleged Libyan involvement in bombing of Berlin disco frequented by US military personnel.

1988 December - Lockerbie bombing - an airliner is blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, allegely by Libyan agents.

1989 - Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia form the Arab Maghreb Union.

Lockerbie plane bombing

1992 - UN imposes sanctions on Libya in an effort to force it to hand over for trial two of its citizens suspected of involvement in the blowing up of a PanAm airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.

1994 - Libya returns the Aozou Strip to Chad.

1995 - Gaddafi expels some 30,000 Palestinians in protest at the Oslo accords between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel.

1999 - Lockerbie suspects handed over for trial in the Netherlands under Scottish law; UN sanctions suspended; diplomatic relations with UK restored.

2000 September - Dozens of African immigrants are killed by Libyan mobs in the west of Libya who were said to be angry at the large number of African labourers coming into the country.

Lockerbie sentence

2001 31 January- Special Scottish court in the Netherlands finds one of the two Libyans accused of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi, guilty and sentences him to life imprisonment. Megrahi's co-accused, Al-Amin Khalifa Fahimah, is found not guilty and freed.

Capital

View of Tripoli
  • Tripoli grew rapidly in the 1970s
  • Founded by the Phoenicians
  • 645 AD: Conquered by Arab warriors
  • Population: 1.7 million (estimate)

2001 May - Libyan troops help to quell a coup attempt against President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic.

2002 January - Libya and the US say they have held talks to mend relations after years of hostility over what the Americans termed Libya's sponsorship of terrorism.

2002 14 March - The Libyan man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, loses his appeal against the conviction and begins a life sentence of at least 20 years.

Compensation

2003 January - Libya is elected chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission despite opposition from the US and human rights groups.

2003 August - Libya signs a deal worth $2.7bn to compensate families of the Lockerbie bombing victims. Libya takes responsibility for the bombing in a letter to the UN Security Council.

2003 September - UN Security Council votes to lift sanctions.

2003 December - Libya says will abandon programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction.

2004 January - Libya agrees to compensate families of victims of 1989 bombing of French passenger aircraft over Sahara.

2004 March - British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits, the first such visit since 1943.

Nurses sentenced

2004 May - Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are sentenced to death having been accused of deliberately infecting some 400 children with HIV. They are eventually freed under a deal with the European union.

'Great Man-Made River'

Libyans celebrate opening of Gurdabiya Dam, part of the 'Great Man-Made River' water project, in 2002

The 'Great Man-Made River' project brings water from desert aquifers to Libya's coastal cities

2004 August - Libya agrees to pay $35m to compensate victims of the bombing of a Berlin nightclub in 1986.

2005 January - Libya's first auction of oil and gas exploration licences heralds the return of US energy companies for the first time in more than 20 years.

2006 February - At least 10 people are killed in clashes with police in Benghazi, part of a wave of international protests by Muslims who are angered by a Danish newspaper's cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

2006 May - The US says it is restoring full diplomatic ties with Libya.

2007 January - Prime minister announces plan to make redundant 400,000 government workers - more than a third of the total workforce - to stimulate the private sector and ease public spending.

The Gaddafi clan

Seif al-Islam GAddafi

Col Gaddafi's regime was centred on his family, with second son Seif al-Islam (pictured) seen as his heir

2008 January - Libya takes over one-month rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in a step back to respectability after decades as a pariah of the West.

2008 August - Libya and US sign agreement committing each side to compensate all victims of bombing attacks on the other's citizens.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologises to Libya for damage inflicted by Italy during the colonial era and signs a five billion dollar investment deal by way of compensation.

2008 September - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes historic visit - the highest-level US visit to Libya since 1953. Ms Rice says relations between the US and Libya have entered a "new phase".

2009 February - Gaddafi elected chairman of the African Union by leaders meeting in Ethiopia. Sets out ambition of "United States of Africa" even embracing the Caribbean.

2009 June - Gaddafi pays first state visit to Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler and now its main trading partner.

Al-Megrahi released

2009 August - Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is freed from gaol in Scotland on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya. His release and return to a hero's welcome causes a storm of controversy.

2009 December- Diplomatic row with Switzerland and European Union after one of Gaddafi's sons is held in Switzerland on charges of mistreating domestic workers.

2010 January - Russia agrees to sell Libya weapons in a deal worth $1.8bn. The deal is thought to include fighter jets, tanks and air defence systems.

2011 uprising

Libya rebel fighters celerbate around Col Muammar Gaddafi's monument to the 1986 US bombing after storming the dicator's Bab al-Aziziya compound

The 2011 uprising swept Col Gaddafi's government from power

2010 June - UN refugee agency UNHCR expelled.

2010 July - US senators push for inquiry into claims that oil giant BP lobbied for Lockerbie bomber's release.

BP confirms it is about to begin drilling off Libyan coast.

2010 October - European Union and Libya sign agreement designed to slow illegal migration.

2010 December - US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks indicate that Gaddafi threatened to cut trade with Britain if Lockerbie bomber died in prison.

Anti-Gaddafi uprising

2011 February - Arrest of human rights campaigner sparks violent protests in eastern city of Benghazi that rapidly spread to other cities, leading to escalating clashes between security forces and rebels. Gaddafi insists that he will not quit, and remains in control of the capital, Tripoli.

2011 March - UN Security Council authorises a no-fly zone over Libya and air strikes to protect civilians, over which NATO assumes command.

Backed by extensive NATO air raids, Libyan rebels initially capture territory but are then forced back by better-armed pro-Gaddafi forces. Rebels ask West for arms.

Col Gaddafi killed

Anti-Gaddafi fighter looks into storm drain in which Col Gaddafi was allegedly captured in October 2011, near the coastal city of Sirte

The colonel's ruthless and quixotic 42-year rule came to an ignominious end

2011 July - The international Contact Group on Libya formally recognises the main opposition group, the National Transitional Council (NTC), as the legitimate government of Libya.

2011August - Rebels swarm into Col Gaddafi's fortress compound in Tripoli, six months after the uprising began. With only a few remaining strongholds under his control, Col Gaddafi goes into hiding. His wife and three of his children flee to neighbouring Algeria.

2011 August-September - African Union joins 60 countries which have recognised the NTC as the new Libyan authority.

2011 20 October - Col Gaddafi is captured and killed.

Three days later, the NTC declares Libya to be officially "liberated" and announces plans to hold elections within eight months.

2011 November - Saif al-Islam, the fugitive son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, is captured, becoming the last key Gaddafi family member to be seized or killed.

2012 January - Clashes erupt between former rebel forces in Benghazi in sign of discontent with the pace and nature of change under the governing NTC. The deputy head of the NTC, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, resigns.

2012 February - Scores killed in clashes between Arab Zawi and African Tebu groups in Al-Kufra in the remote south-east.

2012 March - NTC officials in the oil-rich east, centred on Benghazi, launch a campaign to re-establish autonomy for the region, further increasing tension with the central NTC in Tripoli.

Mauritania arrests Gaddafi-era intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi at Nouakchott Airport, and insists it will investigate him before considering an extradition request from Libya. The International Criminal Court and France also seek his extradition.

2012 May - Gunmen burst into government headquarters in Tripoli during a protest against the suspensions of bounty payments to groups that had fought against the Gaddafi government. Security forces restore order.

Reining in the militias

Members of the Rafallah Sahati Islamic Militia Brigades, argue with a Libyan policemen, second left, regarding a request for the militia to evacuate their base in Benghazi, Libya, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

The post-Gaddafi authorities struggled to curb the militias formed during the uprising

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi dies in Tripoli. A private funeral is held.

2012 June - Government struggles to control local militias, especially in Zintan in the West. The Al-Awfea Brigade briefly takes over Tripoli International Airport, and a pro-autonomy mob ransacks the election commission building in Benghazi.

Tunisia extradites former prime minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

2012 August - Transitional government hands power to the General National Congress, which was elected in July. The Congress elects Mohammed Magarief of the liberal National Front Party as its chairman, thereby making him interim head of state.

Benghazi attack

2012 September - US ambassador and three other Americans are killed when armed men storm the consulate in Benghazi. The US believes armed Islamist groups used protests against a film produced in the US that mocks the Muslim prophet Muhammad as cover for the attack.

Crowds in Benghazi drive out the Ansar al-Sharia and other militias from the city and nearby Derna, prompting General National Congress head Mohammed al-Magarief to vow to disband all illegal militias.

Mauritania extradites former spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to Libya to stand trial over crimes allegedly committed under Col Gaddafi's rule.

2012 October - Mustafa Abu Shagur, prime-minister-elect, fails in two attempts to gain parliamentary approval for his government. The National Congress elects Ali Zeidan, a liberal and leading opposition envoy during the civil war, to succeed him.

Pro-government forces put down armed uprising in western town of Bani Walid. The Libyan authorities allege that Gaddafi loyalists are still present in the town - a claim rejected by local militiamen.

2012 November - New government led by Ali Zeidan is sworn in.

Benghazi police chief is assassinated by unknown gunmen.

2012 December - Former Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi goes on trial in Tripoli on charges of "acts that led to the unjust killing of Libyans" and of funnelling about $25m of public money through Tunisia to help forces loyal to Col Gaddafi.

Security concerns

2013 January - Libya dismisses security concerns that prompt Britain, Germany and the Netherlands to urge their citizens to leave the country's second city, Benghazi.

2013 May - New law bans Gaddafi-era officials from holding public office. Chairman of General National Congress (GNC), Muhammad al-Magarief, announces his resignation in compliance with the new law.

2013 June - The General National Congress elects independent MP Nuri Abu Sahmein as chairman. He is a member of the Berber minority that suffered discrimination under Col Gaddafi.

2013 August - Rebels begin months-long blockade of oil terminals.

2013 October - US special forces seize Anas al-Liby, a Libyan suspect in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in Tripoli and remove him abroad. Libya demands an explanation.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is briefly abducted from a Tripoli hotel by armed militiamen, prompting the US and European Union to express concern at the state of public order.

2013 November - Nine people are killed in clashes between the army and the Ansar al-Sharia armed Islamists in Benghazi.

2013 December - Libya experiences what is believed to be its first suicide attack - a car bomb attack in Benghazi.

2014 January - Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Droui is assassinated.

Protests

2014 February - Protests erupt in response to the GNC's refusal to disband itself after its mandate officially expires. The GNC says that it needs to extend its parliamentary term to allow a special committee time to draft a new constitution. GNC chairman Nuri Abu Sahmein pledges that fresh elections will be held "as early as possible".

2014 March - The GNC sacks Prime Minister Ali Zeidan after a tanker laden with oil from a rebel-held port breaks through a Libyan navy blockade. After a brief interim, the GNC elects businessman Ahmed Maiteg as prime minister in heated scenes.

2014 April - Rebels lift closure of two oil terminals as part of a deal, but delay reopening of Ras Lanuf and Sidra until government ''keeps its side of the bargain''.

2014 May - "Libyan National Army" renegade general Khalifa Haftar launches military assault including airstrikes against militant Islamist groups in Benghazi; tries to seize parliament building, accusing Prime Minister Maiteg of being in thrall to Islamist groups.

2014 June - Prime Minister Maiteg resigns after supreme court rules his appointment illegal.

New parliament chosen in elections marred by a low turn-out attributed to security fears and boycotts.

2014 July - UN staff pull out, embassies shut, foreigners evacuated as security situation deteriorates. Tripoli international airport put out of action by fighting.

2014 October - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits to continue UN-brokered talks between rival political and armed factions; parliament based in Tobruk as Islamist and pro-government "Zintan" militias fight over Tripoli, Benghazi and other cities. UN says 100,000s displaced by clashes.

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