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Formerly one of the richest African countries, with the cheapest diesel

date of entry 02/01/2005
mileage 440,009

capital Tripolis

area 1.775.500 km²

population 6.002.347

GDP 57.064 M. US-Dollar

official language Arabic

The Holtorfs visited Libya in 2005, when this North African country was still a dictatorship ruled by Muammar al-Gaddafi. He was subsequently deposed and murdered in the bloody civil war of 2011. When the couple visited, Libya was the wealthiest country in continental Africa, thanks mainly to vast oil reserves discovered in 1959. It had an extensive infrastructure and agricultural sector, with huge irrigation projects seeking to turn the desert green. Today, most of these schemes are in ruins.
  • The Holtorfs had to unpack their down sleeping bags at night because it got so cold. Here, they’re enjoying the first warming rays of the morning sun.
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  • Gaddafi was one of the longest-reigning dictators on earth. He remained in power from 1969 to 2011, and liked to be portrayed in grandiose poses. In 2005, the Holtorfs saw pictures of him everywhere.
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  • Libya is a large country with extensive deserts. Oil reserves made it rich, and it had a good infrastructure.
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  • Modern mosques and apartment blocks rub shoulders with traditional mud buildings in an oasis town
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  • These huge pipes were intended to turn the desert green.
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  • In many cases they did, but it cost a huge amount of money and energy, and groundwater reserves suffered as a result.
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  • The ruins of Leptis Magna are among the country’s most impressive cultural treasures. This is the ancient marketplace.
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  • Leptis Magna, a Phoenician city, was conquered by the Romans in 146 BC. Most of these buildings date from the Roman period.
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  • Otto against a breathtaking mountain backdrop. The roads in Libya were excellent, and the diesel some of the cheapest in the world. On two occasions, the Holtorfs’ money was waved away because 100 litres cost around two dollars.
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  • This great country has been riven by many conflicts: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Knights of Malta, Arabs, Barbary corsairs, Italians and even Germans left traces here.
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  • During the second world war, Erwin Rommel’s Africa Korps did battle against the British in the Libyan Desert for several years. Military cemeteries provide an ever-present reminder of the carnage.
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  • Huge areas of dunes were once a paradise for off-road drivers, but the country is no longer safe.
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  • Video: Libya: Greening the desert