Libyan Ethnicity

Figure 1.--Here we see Arab-Berber Libyan children we think during World War II. Notice the military vehicle in the background. Notice the Berber-Arab, African mix. The photograph was taken by a German photographer. Photographer: H. Schlösser.

Libya the rest of North Africa has aopulation composed primarily of Berber-Arab descent. The Berber people are the indiginous population at least from historical times. The Sahara Desert was a huge barrier as it developed limiting the mixing of sub-Saharan African populations with Mederranean populations. The Berber people are by a large majority (about 90 percent) the base of the modern Liyan population. Small numbers of other people reached Libya in ancient times, including Phonecians, Cartheginians, Greeks, and Romans, but they had only a limited impact on the largely Berber ethnic base. This changed somewhat with the Arab outburst from Arabia (7th century AD). Unlike previous conquerors, the Arabs came in sustantial numbers. The Arabs as a result or the only other important ethnic element to the Libyan ethnic mix (perhaps 10 percent). There is not, however a sharp division between the two groups. The Berbers at first resisted the Arabs and Islam. The Arab conquest eventually imposed both Arab culture and Islam on the Berbers. This opened up extensive inter-marriage and cultural merging. As a result, Libyan ethnicity today is commonly described as Arab-Berber. And because the Sunni Arabs imposed their version of Islam on the Berbers, the population is almost entirely Sunni Islam (something like 97 percent). Libya is one of the most homogenous ethnic, religious and cultural country in the world--and we must mention one of the most backward. The Berber language as largely been lost and Libyans speak Arabic.


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Created: 6:52 PM 12/28/2016
Last updated: 6:52 PM 12/28/2016