Districts of Libya

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Risto Nykänen pointed out that Libya's time has switched to UTC+1 with daylight saving time in the summer. The change took place in November 2012.

With the victory of the Libyan transitional government in 2011-08, the formal name of the country will be changed to the simple name "Libya".

Update 4 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-04-30. It changes the transliterations of the names of four districts.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2010-08-20. It assigns FIPS codes to the 22 districts, and changes their status from baladiyat (municipalities) to shabiyat (districts). There is one apparent mistake: it tells us to delete Tukrah (LY43) from the list, but Tukrah was already deleted from the most recent earlier version (April 2010); in fact, it had been deleted in a change notice in 1992.

Newsletter II-2, an update to the ISO 3166-2 standard, is dated 2010-06-30. It assigns ISO codes to the 22 districts now in force, which it calls popularates.

Erratum: Population data given in the book are 1984 estimates. There was no 1991 census.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-5, dated 2003-09-05, shows 34 municipalities (Arabic: sha`biyah) of Libya, matching the list given for ~2001 under Change history, below. The source for this list is "Information from French Embassy to Tripoli, 2002-09".

Country overview: 

Short nameLIBYA
ISO codeLY
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+2


In 1900, the vilayet of Tripoli, a part of the Ottoman Empire, covered roughly the same territory as modern Libya. It was conquered by Italy, and became an Italian colony by the Treaty of Ouchy on 1912-10-18. In 1939, the four provinces of Libya became an integral part of Italy under the name Libia Italiana. After World War II, Great Britain held Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and France held Fezzan, under temporary military administration. On 1951-12-24, Libya was reunited and became an independent country.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: Libiya, al-Jamahiriyah al-Arabiya al-Libiya al-Shabiya al-Ishtirakiya al-Uzma (formal-obsolete)
  2. Danish: Libyen
  3. Dutch: Libië, Grote Socialistische Lybische Arabische Volksjamahiriya (formal-obsolete)
  4. English: Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (formal-obsolete)
  5. Finnish: Libya
  6. French: Libye f, Jamahiriya f arabe libyenne (obsolete)
  7. German: Libyen n, Libysch-Arabische Dschamahirija (obsolete)
  8. Icelandic: Líbýa
  9. Italian: Libia f
  10. Norwegian: Den sosialistiske arabiske folkerepublikk Libya (formal-obsolete) (Bokmål), Den sosialistiske arabiske folkerepublikken Libya (formal-obsolete) (Nynorsk), Libya
  11. Portuguese: Líbia, Grande Jamahiriya Socialista Popular Árabe da Líbia f (formal-obsolete)
  12. Russian: Великая Социалистическая Народная Ливийская Арабская Джамахирия (formal-obsolete), Ливия
  13. Spanish: Libia f, Gran Jamahiriya f Árabe Libia Popular y Socialista (formal-obsolete)
  14. Swedish: Libyen
  15. Turkish: Libya Arap Halk Sosyalist Cemahiriyesi (formal-obsolete)

Origin of name: 

from an ethnic name

Primary subdivisions: 

Libya is divided into 22 sha`biyat (sing. sha`biyah: districts, more literally "populars", also translated as municipalities or popularates).

Al ButnanLY.BNBULY79159,536Tobruk
Al Jabal al AkhdarLY.JKJALY63203,156Al Bayda'
Al Jabal al GharbiLY.JGJGLY80304,159Gharyan
Al JifarahLY.JRJILY81453,198Aziziyah
Al JufrahLY.JFJULY6452,342Hun
Al KufrahLY.KUKFLY6550,104Al Kufrah
Al MarjLY.MAMJLY66185,848Al Marj
Al MarqabLY.MRMBLY82432,202Al Khums
Al WahatLY.AWWALY83177,047Ajdabiya
An Nuqat al KhamsLY.NKNQLY67287,662Zuwarah
Az ZawiyahLY.ZWZALY68290,993Az Zawiyah
Wadi al HayatLY.WHWDLY8476,858Awbari
Wadi ash Shati'LY.WSWSLY7878,532Adiri
22 districts5,673,031

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Libya lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Al Jabal al Akhdar: = green mountain
  2. Al Jabal al Gharbi: = western mountain
  3. Al Wahah: = oasis
  4. Al Wusta: = central
  5. Benghazi: Arabic bani: sons, gazi: conqueror, i.e. sons of the conqueror
  6. Tripoli: Greek tri: three, polis: city (Tripoli was formed by merging three cities)

Change history: 

  1. Libya has traditionally been divided geographically into three regions: Cyrenaica (or Barca) in the east, Fezzan in the southwest, and Tripolitania in the northwest.
  2. 1919-05-17: Libya divided into Cyrenaica and Tripolitania provinces.
  3. 1919-09-12: France ceded some territory from Algeria to Libya, where it was incorporated into Tripolitania province, straightening the border somewhat.
  4. 1919: Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan ceded territory to Libya. Both cessions were incorporated into Cyrenaica.
  5. 1926: Egypt ceded more territory to Cyrenaica, leaving the border in its modern position, which follows the meridian of 25° East quite closely.
  6. 1934: Cyrenaica province split into Benghazi and Derne provinces; Tripolitania split into Tripoli and Misurata. The largest parts of each of the provinces, in the south, were under military administration as the Libyan Sahara Territory.
  7. ~1943: Occupying British and French forces established the three provinces listed here (source [3]):
ProvincePopulationArea (km.²)
3 provinces1,088,8891,759,540
  • Population: 1954-07-31 census.
  1. 1963-04-27: Libya reorganized from three provinces into ten muhafazat (districts, governorates), as listed here:
Al Jabal al Akhdar131,940Al Bayda'CAl Fatih, Al Jabal al Akhdar
Al Khums162,126Al KhumsTAl Khums, Sawfajjin, Tarhunah
Awbari106,647AwbariFAwbari, Murzuq
Az Zawiyah247,628Az ZawiyahTAn Nuqat al Khams, Az Zawiyah
Benghazi337,423BanghaziCAjdabiya, Benghazi, Al Kufrah
Darnah122,984DarnahCDarnah, Tobruk
Al Jabal al Gharbi155,958GharyanF,TGhadamis, Gharyan, Yafran
Misratah177,939MisratahTMisratah, Surt, Zlitan
Sabhah113,006SabhaFAl Jufrah, Sabha, Ash Shati'
Tripoli735,083TripoliTAl `Aziziyah, Tripoli
10 governorates2,290,734
  • Population: 1973-07-31 census.
  • Prv: Former province containing most of this territory (C=Cyrenaica,
    F=Fezzan, T=Tripolitania).
  • Equivalent: Municipalities from ~1987-1995 period approximately
    equivalent to this territory.
  1. 1969: Name of Al Jabal al Akhdar governorate changed to Al Bayda'; name of Al Jabal al Gharbi governorate changed to Gharyan.
  2. ~1973: It appears that there was a temporary reorganization. Benghazi governorate was reduced to a small northern stub, containing the city of Banghazi. Al Khalij governorate was formed from the remainder of Benghazi and the eastern part of Misratah. Misratah, in return, was augmented by the eastern parts of Gharyan and Sabhah. Awbari merged with the remainder of Sabhah. The net effect on the list of governorates was that Awbari was replaced by Al Khalij. The 1973 census reports the following divisions (source [13]):
Al Jabal al Akhdar132,366
Al Khalij105,049
Al Khums160,882
Az Zawiyah244,456
  • Population: 1973-07-31 census.
  1. ~1983: Libya reorganized into 46 municipalities, as listed below:
Al AbyarLY02Al Abyar
Al `AziziyahLY03Al `Aziziyah
Al Bayda'LY04Al Bayda'
Al JufrahLY05Waddan
Al JumaylLY06Al Jumayl
Al KhumsLY07Al Khums
Al KufrahLY08Al Kufrah
Al MarjLY09Al Marj
Al QarabulliLY10Al Qarabulli
Al QubbahLY11Al Qubbah
Al `UjaylatLY12Al `Ujaylat
Ash Shati'LY13Birak
Az Zahra'LY15Az Zahra'
Az ZawiyahLY16Az Zawiyah
Bani WalidLY18Bani Walid
Bin JawwadLY19Bin Jawwad
Qasr Bin GhashirLY33Bin Ghashir
  1. ~1987: Libya reorganized into the 25 baladiyah (municipalities) listed in the following table. Judging from their FIPS codes, Al `Aziziyah, Al Jufrah, Al Kufrah, Ash Shati', Murzuq, Sabha, Tarhunah, Tobruk, and Zlitan municipalities remained unchanged through the reorganization.
Al `AziziyahAZLY0385,068Al `Aziziyah
Al FatihFALY48102,763Al Marj
Al Jabal al AkhdarJALY49120,662Al Bayda'
Al JufrahJULY05N/AWaddan
Al KhumsKHLY50149,642Al Khums
Al KufrahKULY0825,139Al Jawf
An Nuqat al KhamsNKLY51181,584Zuwarah
Ash Shati'SHLY1346,749Birak
Az ZawiyahZALY53220,075Az Zawiyah
SawfajjinSFLY5945,195Bani Walid
25 municipalities3,637,488
  • ISO: Codes from ISO DIS 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1984 estimates.
  1. 1995-08-02: Libya reorganized into 13 municipalities. I have two data sources for this division, but they disagree. I give them both here, in hopes that someone will be able to reconcile them.
Al ButnanBU151,240
Al Jabal al AkhdarJA381,165
Al Jabal al GharbiJG316,970
Al JufrahJU39,335
Al WahahWA62,056
Al WustaWU240,574
Az ZawiyahZA517,395
13 municipalities4,811,902
  • ISO: Municipality codes from ISO
    standard 3166-2, first edition.
  • Population: 1995-08 census
  • Source: [4].


Al Jabal al-Akhdar308,30037,000Al Bayda’
Al Jabal al-Gharbi204,30087,000Gharyan
Al Kufrah23,800484,000Al Kufrah
Az Zawiyah326,5004,000Az Zawiyah
Khalij Surt382,100376,000Surt
Margib408,90029,000Al Khums
Nikat al-Khums196,000101,000Zuwarah
Wadi al Ha’it49,60010,500Awbari
13 municipalities3,772,3001,759,540
  • Population: 1988 estimates
  • Areas: don't add up to the total shown.
  • Source: [5].


Note: Source [6], dated 2000, doesn't have a complete list of subdivisions of Libya, but its partial lists may serve as a basis for further investigation.

The report's author (D. Abdalla El Abed Abou Jaafar) displays a good command of English, but Libya is consistently spelled "Lybia"; Jamahiriya is spelled "Jamahyria" on the first page and "Jamahirya" subsequently. This suggests that he uses an idiosyncratic method of transliteration from Arabic to English.

The following definitions are given:

"The Fundamental Popular Council: This is the local legislative power that comprises all adult men and women at the level of the first administrative unit (The Quarter)

"The Popular: This is the regional executive power that corresponds to municipality or department in other countries."

In the remainder of the report, the geographic breakdown is by "regions". Tables in the report don't purport to list all of the regions of Libya, but just selected ones. In Table 3, on the first page, there are twelve regions listed: Al Beida, Al Khams, Al Marj, Benghazi, Darana, Elzawiya, Ijdabiya, Mesrata, Sabha, Souf El Jin, Tobrok, and Tripoli. In Table 5, on the second page, Al Chatek, Al Jafra, Al Kobbeh, Al Markab, Al Noukat Al Khams, Al Wahat, Benghazi, Darna, Marzouk, Mesrata, Nalout, Sabha, Sahl El Jaffara, Sart, Tripoli, and Wadi El Hayat are listed as regions.

Some of these regions can be tentatively identified with one of either the old 25 municipalities or the newer 13. Since Al Bayda' was the capital of Al Jabal al Akhdar (old), Al Beida may be the same as either the old or the new Al Jabal al Akhdar. Al Khams is probably an alternate spelling of Al Khums (old). Al Marj was the capital of Al Fatih (old). Benghazi (Banghazi) is the name of both an old and a new. Darnah (Darana, Darna) was an old. Elzawiya is probably the same as Az Zawiyah (old and new). Ijdabiya is probably Ajdabiya (old). Mesrata is Misratah (old and new). Sabha was an old. Souf El Jin corresponds to Sawfajjin (old and new). Tobrok is Tobruk (old). Tripoli is Tarabulus (old and new). Al Jafra is Al Jufrah (old and new). Al Noukat Al Khams matches An Nuqat al Khams (old). Marzouk is Murzuq (old). Sahl El Jaffara is probably the Al Jifarah municipality created in ~2001. Sart is Surt (old).

  1. 1998: Libya reorganized from 13 shabiyat (administrative regions) into 26: Al-Batan, Al-Jafarah, Al-Jofra, Al-Kofra, Al-Marj, Al-Morqib, Al-Qoba, Al-Wahad, Ben Walid, Benghazi, Derna, Gharyan, Jabal Al-Akhdar, Murzaq, Musrata, Nalout, Nikat Al-Khams, Sabah, Sabrata/Sorman, Sirte, Tarhouna/Msallata, Tripoli, Wadi Al-Hait, Wadi Al-Shaati, Yefrin, and Zawiyah. (Source [7]; I have no other confirmation for this statement.)
  2. ~2001: Libya reorganized into 34 municipalities, as shown in the table below. According to Jose Gavinha, the changes from the 25 municipalities of ~1987 to the 34 municipalities of ~2001 were as follows. Al `Aziziyah municipality renamed to Al Jifarah; Al Fatih municipality renamed to Al Marj; Al Khums municipality renamed to Al Marqab; Sawfajjin renamed to Bani Walid; Tarhunah renamed to Tarhunah-Masallatah; Tobruk renamed to Al Butnan; Yafran renamed to Yafran-Jadu. Al Wahah municipality split from Ajdabiya; Al Hizam al Akhdar municipality split from Al Fatih; Sabratah Surman municipality formed by taking the Sabratah area from An Nuqat al Khams and the Surman area from Az Zawiyah; Awbari municipality split into Ghat and Wadi al Hayat; Al Qubbah municipality split from Darnah; Nalut municipality split from Ghadamis; Mizdah municipality split from Gharyan; Al Qatrun municipality split from Murzuq; Jaghbub municipality split from Al Butnan (formerly Tobruk); Tajura' wa an Nawahi al Arba` municipality split from Tripoli. The following additional changes are uncertain: part of Az Zawiyah may have been transferred to Al Jifarah; part of Benghazi may have been transferred to Al Hizam al Akhdar; Zlitan merged with a neighboring municipality, but we don't know whether it was Al Marqab (formerly Al Khums) to the west, or Misratah to the east.
Al ButnanLY.BU116,106Tubruq
Al Hizam al AkhdarLY.HZ85,898Al Abyar
Al Jabal al AkhdarLY.JA152,232Al Bayda
Al JifarahLY.JI221,789Al' Aziziyah
Al JufrahLY.JU34,576Hun
Al KufrahLY.KF35,091Al Jawf
Al MarjLY.MJ93,171Al Marj
Al MarqabLY.MB251,377Al Hums
Al QatrunLY.QTAl Qatrun
Al QubbahLY.QB58,810Al Qubbah
Al WahahLY.WA22,222Jalu
An Nuqat al KhamsLY.NQ166,067Zuwarah
Ash Shati'LY.SH59,997Birat
Az ZawiyahLY.ZA156,248Az Zawiyah
Bani WalidLY.BW56,890Bani Walid
Sabratah SurmanLY.SS123,591Sabratah
Tajura' wa an Nawahi al Arba`LY.TNTajura
Wadi al HayatLY.WD51,602Awbari
34 municipalities4,389,739
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
    If periods are replaced by hyphens, these are the
    same as the municipality codes from ISO standard
    3166-2, newsletter I-5.
  • Population: 1995-08 census (Libyans only). Total
    population including non-Libyans: 4,799,065.
  1. ~2002: Libya reorganized from 34 municipalities to 22 districts.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Ajdabiya: Aghdabiya (variant)
  2. Al Butnan: Tobruk, Tubruq (obsolete)
  3. Al Fatih: Fatah (variant)
  4. Al Hizam al Akhdar: al-Hizam al-Ahdar (variant)
  5. Al Jabal al Akhdar: Al Bayda', al-Ghabal al-Ahdar, Beida, Djebel Akhdar, Gebal Akhdar, Jebel el Akhdar (variant)
  6. Al Jifarah: Al `Aziziyah (obsolete); al-Ghifarā, Al Jafarah, Al Jfara (variant)
  7. Al Jufrah: al-Ghufrā, Al Jafrah (variant)
  8. Al Kufrah: al-Kufrā, Al Kafrah (variant)
  9. Al Marj: Al' Fatih, Al Maraj, al-Margh (variant)
  10. Al Marqab: Al Khums, Homs, Khoms (obsolete); Al Murgub (variant)
  11. Al Qubbah: al-Qubbā (variant)
  12. Al Wahah: al-Wahat (variant)
  13. An Nuqat al Khams: an-Niqat al-Hams, Nigat al Khums (variant)
  14. Ash Shati': Shati, Wadi ash-Shati' (variant)
  15. Awbari: Ubari (variant)
  16. Az Zawiyah: az-Zawiyā, Zavia, Zawia (variant)
  17. Bani Walid: Sawfajjin (variant)
  18. Benghazi: Banghazi (Arabic), Bengasi (German, Italian, Spanish)
  19. Darnah: Darana, Darnā, Derna (variant)
  20. Ghadamis: Gadamis, Ghadames (variant)
  21. Gharyan: Al Jabal al Gharbi, Garyan, Gharian, Jabal al Gharb, Jebel el Gharb (variant)
  22. Ghat: Gat (variant)
  23. Jaghbub: al-Ghaghbub (variant)
  24. Misratah: Misratā, Misurata (variant)
  25. Mizdah: Mizdā (variant)
  26. Sabha: Sabhah, Sebba, Sebha, Sibha (variant)
  27. Sabratah Surman: Sabratā wa-Surman (variant)
  28. Surt: Sirte (English)
  29. Tajura' wa an Nawahi al Arba`: Taghura' wa-n-Nawahi al-Arba (variant)
  30. Tarhunah-Masallatah: Tarhunah (obsolete); Tarhunā wa-Masallatā (variant)
  31. Tripoli: Tarabulus (Arabic); Tarabalus Al-Gharb (formal); Trípoli (Spanish); Tripolis (German)
  32. Wadi al Hayat: Wadi al Hayaa (variant)
  33. Yafran-Jadu: Jafran, Yafran (obsolete); Yafran wa-Ghadu (variant)


  1. Cyrenaica: Barca, Barka (variant); Barqah (Arabic); Cirenaica (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish); Cyrenaika (German, Norwegian); Cyrénaïque (French)
  2. Fezzan: Fazzan (Arabic)
  3. Tripolitania: Tripolitaine (French); Tripolitan, Tripolitanien (German); Tripolitânia (Portuguese)


  1. [1] Samuel Villavicencio found a census report for Libya at http://www.tedad-libya.info/tedad_2006.htm (now a dead link; probably accessed about 2007-09-01). It showed 20 of the 22 districts, omitting Al Jufrah and Wadi ash Shati'. It agrees with source [9], except that [9] is more complete.
  2. [2] Celvin Ruisdael found 1995 population data for Libya at http://www.alelam.net/dir/population.htm (now a dead link; accessed about 2004-11). I believe this was a page of the Libya Media Organization. In order to make the column add up correctly, I transposed two digits in the population of Bani Walid. It listed populations for 31 out of the 34 municipalities, omitting Al Qatrun, Jaghbub, and Tajura' wa an Nawahi al Arba`.
  3. [3] Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1964 edition.
  4. [4] The Europa World Year Book 2001
  5. [5] "Ershiyi (21) Shiji Shijie Diming Lu", Beijing, 2001.
  6. [6] Alan Pritchard found a UNESCO report  on Libya, dated 2000 (retrieved 2002-08-24).
  7. [7] The Statesman's Yearbook, 2006 edition.
  8. [8] Libya Online at http://www.libyaonline.com/pdf/0zuwJ8D62k9FZ78Im52.pdf (dead link, retrieved 2008?).
  9. [9] Sorin Cosoveanu found 2006 census data at the General Authority for Information  site, apparently a Libyan government body (retrieved 2009-08-14).
  10. [10] An ISO report cited a list obtained from a 2002 publication of the Bureau d'Études Toponymiques (BET), derived from information from the French Embassy to Tripoli, 2002-09. The list matches sources [11] and [12].
  11. [11] The Wikipedia article on Municipalities of Libya  (retrieved 2007-08-08) cites source [12].
  12. [12] A Libyan government  page (in Arabic) lists the 22 districts.
  13. [13] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
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