Country Profile: Libya

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of Libya, based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Libya's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has legal status. 

Country Background

Libya is a country located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded by Chad, Sudan, Egypt, Niger, Algeria, and Tunisia. The capital of Libya is Tripoli. The official language is Arabic. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 6.7 million. The official religion of Libya is Islam. Libya is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 97% of the population Muslim. Libya is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Libya is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The current Constitution of Libya was adopted in 2011, and amended most recently in 2012. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. 

Following the 2011 Civil War, Libya established a new system of governance. However, since 2014, there have been increasing levels of conflict between rival factions claiming political legitimacy. As of this writing, Libya's post-revolution legal system is in flux and is driven by both state and non-state actors.

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has constitutional status in Libya. According to Article 1 of the Constitution, Islam is the official religion of the state and sharīʿa is the main source of legislation.  

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has official jurisdiction of operation in Libya. Civil and sharīʿa courts were merged in the 1970s, and the civil courts now employ sharīʿa judges. All laws dealing with matters of personal status and family are derived from sharīʿa.   

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Libya has no official school of Islamic law. The majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Mālikī school). 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].