Libya is the third-largest state in Africa by area. Located in North Africa, it has no permanent rivers or streams, as the Sahara Desert covers most of the country. Yet just beneath the land's surface lie huge reserves of oil, which have provided vast wealth for Libya's political elite. Unfortunately, little of this wealth has reached the country's approximately 6 million residents.
For more than 40 years, Mu'ammar al-Gadhafi ruled Libya as an authoritarian state. The hostile foreign policies of the controversial leader, including support for international terrorist groups, caused Libya to become politically and economically isolated from the rest of the world during the late 20th century and early 21st century. In February 2011, a civil war began in Libya that resulted in the overthrow of Gadhafi's government--and eventually, the dictator's execution. Today, Libya remains in turmoil politically, as various factions squabble for power in the newly forming government.
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