In Libya there are currently 106 districts, second level administrative subdivisions known in Arabic as baladiyat (singular baladiyah).[1] The number has varied since 2013 between 99[2] and 108.[3] The first level administrative divisions in Libya are currently the governorates (muhafazat), which have yet to be formally deliniated,[4][5] but which were originally tripartite as: Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest; and later divided into ten governorates.

Prior to 2013 there were twenty-two first level administrative subdivisions known by the term shabiyah (Arabic singular شعبية šaʿbiyya, plural šaʿbiyyāt) which constituted the districts of Libya. In the 1990s the shabiyat had replaced an older baladiyat system.

Historically the area of Libya was considered three provinces (or states), Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest. It was the conquest by Italy in the Italo-Turkish War that united them in a single political unit. Under the Italians Libya was eventually divided into four provinces and one territory: Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi, Derna, (in the north) and the Territory of the Libyan Sahara (in the south).[6] After the French and British occupied Libya in 1943, it was again split into three provinces: Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan-Ghadames in the southwest.[7]

Article 176 of the 1951 constitution of Libya stated "The Kingdom of Libya shall be divided into administrative units in conformity with the law to be promulgated in this connection. Local and regional councils may be formed in the Kingdom. The extent of these units shall be determined by law which shall likewise organize these Councils." in exact quote.[citation needed]

After independence (1951), Libya was divided into three governorates (muhafazat), matching the three provinces of before, but in 1963 it was divided into ten governorates. In 1983 a new system was introduced dividing the country into forty-six districts (baladiyat). In 1987 this was reduced to twenty-five districts.

On 2 August 1995, Libya reorganized into thirteen districts (shabiyat). In 1998 this was increased to 26 shabiyat districts. In 2001 it was increased to thirty-two districts plus three administrative regions. Finally in 2007 it was reduced to twenty-two districts.

For historical evolution see also: Subdivisions of Libya.

Libyan districts were further subdivided into Basic People's Congresses which act as townships or boroughs until 2011.


The term شعبية in Arabic can mean both "popularity" or "That that is of the people" or more simply "pertaining to the people". The second meaning was used by the Libyan government to refer to the districts of Libya, in tandem with the general ideology of the state. Sha'biyat in Libya are the highest administrative level. A lower level, equivalent to a county, exists and divides each Shabiyah into smaller entities.

The term was new and exclusive to Libya, in line with exclusive terms for republic (jamahiriya), ministry (amanah) and embassy (people's-bureau)—all of which are different from what is used throughout Arabic-speaking countries, including even Libya itself before its adoption of the neology.

Districts (Shabiya)

Shabiyah (Arabic: شعبية šaʿbiyyah, plural: شعبيات šaʿbiyyāt) is a neologism exclusive to Libya under Gaddafi, in line with exclusive terms for republic (jamahiriya), ministry (amanah) and embassy (people's-bureau). The term basically means a district, that is, a top level administrative division. Etymologically, it is an adjective meaning "of or pertaining to the people, popular".

22 districts (2007)

In 2007 the twenty-two districts (shabiya) replaced the older thirty-two district system.[8][9][10]

The list is as following:

The current twenty-two district system in Libya (since 2007)
Map no. Name English
Area (km2) Population
1 البطنان Al Butnan 84,996 159,536 195,088
2 درنة Darnah 31,511 163,351 201,639
3 الجبل الاخضر Al Jabal al Akhdar 11,429 203,156 250,020
4 المرج Al Marj 13,515 185,848 286,045
5 بنغازي Banghazi 11,372 670,797 807,255
6 الواحات Al Wahat 105,523 177,047 213,728
7 الكفرة Al Kufrah 453,161 50,104 55,495
8 سرت Surt 77,660 193,720 170,869
9 مصراتة Misrata 29,172 550,938 663,853
10 المرقب Marqab 6,796 432,202 532,227
11 طرابلس Tarabulus 2,666 1,065,405 1,293,016
12 الجفارة Al Jafarah 835 453,198 548,855
13 الزاوية Az Zawiyah 2,753 290,993 351,306
14 النقاط الخمس An Nuqat al Khams 6,089 287,662 349,755
15 الجبل الغربي Al Jabal al Gharbi 76,717 304,159 374,911
16 نالوت Nalut 67,191 93,224 113,886
17 الجفرة Al Jufrah 117,410 52,342 60,853
18 وادي الشاطئ Wadi ash Shati' 97,160 78,532 95,294
19 سبها Sabha 107,310 134,162 153,454
20 وادي الحياة Wadi al Hayat 31,485 76,858 91,749
21 غات Ghat 68,482 23,518 27,675
22 مرزق Murzuq 356,308 78,621 94,088

32 districts (2001)

The 2001 reorganization of Libya into districts (shabiya)[13] resulted in thirty-two districts and three administrative regions (المنطقة الإدارية):

The old thirty-two shabiyat system in Libya (2001–2007)
بلدية Sha'biyah Population Area
(on map)
إجدابيا Ajdabiya 165,839 91,620 1
البطنان Butnan 144,527 83,860 2
الحزام الاخضر Hizam al Akhdar 108,860 12,800 3
الجبل الاخضر Jabal al Akhdar 194,185 7,800 4
الجفارة Jafara 289,340 1,940 5
الجفرة Jufra 45,117 117,410 6
الكفرة Kufra 51,433 483,510 7
المرج Marj 116,318 10,000 8
المرقب Murqub 328,292 3,000 9
زوارة Nuqat al Khams 208,954 5,250 10
القبة Quba 93,895 14,722 11
الواحات Al Wahat 29,257 108,670 12
الزاوية Zawiya 197,177 1,520 13
بنغازي Benghazi 636,992 800 14
بنى وليد Bani Walid 77,424 19,710 15
درنة Derna 81,174 4,908 16
غات Ghat 22,770 72,700 17
غدامس Ghadames 19,000 51,750 18
غريان Gharyan 161,408 4,660 19
مرزق Murzuq 68,718 349,790 20
مزدة Mizda 41,476 72,180 21
مصراتة Misrata 360,521 2,770 22
نالوت Nalut 86,801 13,300 23
تاجوراء والنواحي الأربع Tajura wa Arba‘ 267,031 1,430 24
ترهونة و مسلاته Tarhuna wa Msalata 296,092 5,840 25
طرابلس Tripoli 882,926 400 26
سبها Sabha 126,610 15,330 27
سرت Sirte 156,389 77,660 28
صبراته و صرمان Sabratha wa Sorman 152,521 1,370 29
وادي الحياة Wadi al Hayaa 72,587 31,890 30
وادي الشاطئ Wadi al Shatii 77,203 97,160 31
يفرن Yafran 117,647 9,310 32

The three administrative regions are missing from the above map, Qatrun,[14] Marada,[15] and Jaghbub[16]

26 districts (1998)

In 1998 Libya was reorganized into twenty-six districts which were: Butnan, Jafara, Jufra, Kufra, Marj, Murqub, Quba, Al Wahat, Bani Walid, Benghazi, Derna, Gharyan, Jabal al Akhdar, Murzuq, Misrata, Nalut, Nuqat al Khams, Sabha, Sabrata/Sorman, Sirte, Tarhuna/Msalata, Tripoli, Wadi al Hayaa, Wadi al Shatii, Yafran, and Zawiya[17]

13 districts (1995)

On 2 August 1995 Libya dropped the baladiyat system and reorganized into thirteen districts (shabiyat). Among them were Butnan (formerly Tobruk), Jabal al Akhdar, Jabal al Gharbi, Zawiya, Benghazi, and Tripoli. However, there is not agreement about the other seven names.[10]

Former baladiya

Baladiyah (singular) or baladiyat (plural), are Arabic words used in many Arab countries to denote administrative divisions of the country. In Libya, the baladiyat system of districts was introduced in 1983 to replace the governorate system. Originally there were forty-six baladiyat districts,[10] but in 1988 that number was reduced to twenty-five baladiyat. The table hereunder lists the old twenty-five baladiyat in alphabetical order with a link to each one and numbered to be located on the map. Note that each district linked may be both a baladiyah and a shabiyah. The many changes may not always be reflected in the article.


شعبية / بلدية Name 2007 (22) 2001 (32) Name in 1998 (26) 1995 (13) 1988 (25) Capital
إجدابيا Ajdabiya District x x Ajdabiya
البطنان Butnan District (Tobruk in 1995, from 1988 Tobruk District) x x Batan x Tobruk Tobruk
الحزام الاخضر Hizam al Akhdar District x Aybar
الجبل الاخضر Jabal al Akhdar x x Jabal al Akhdar x x Bayda
الجبل الغربي Jabal al Gharbi District x x Gharyan
الجغبوب Jaghbub Administrative Region AR Administrative Region
الجفارة Jafara (from 1988 'Aziziya District) x x Jafara 'Aziziya 'Aziziya
الجفرة Jufra District x x Jufra 4 x Hun
الكفرة Kufra District x x Kufra 5 x Al Jawf
المرج Marj District (1983–1988 Fati District) x x Marj Fati Marj, Barca in antiquity
المرقب Murqub District (Morqib) (from 1995 & 1988 Khoms District) x x Murqub 5 Khoms Khoms
القطرون Qatrun Administrative Region AR Administrative Region
القبة Quba District x Quba Quba, or Giovanni Berta
الواحات Al Wahat District (Waha in 1995) x x Wahad 4 Ajdabiya (cf. Ajdabiya District)
الوسطى Wusta 4
النقاط الخمس Nuqat al Khams (Nikat al Khums in 1995) x x Nikat al Khams 5 x Zuwara
أوباري Awbari District 5a x Ubari
الزاوية Zawiya District x x Zawiya x x Zawiya
بني وليد Bani Walid District (from 1988 Sawfajjin District) x Bani Walid Bani Walid
بنغازي Benghazi x x Benghazi x x Benghazi
درنة Derna District x x Derna x Derna
فزان Fezzan (or Fazzan) 4 Sabha
غدامس Ghadames District x x Ghadames
غريان Gharyan District x Gharyan x Gharyan
غات Ghat District (from 1988 Ubari) x x Ghat
مرادة Marada Administrative Region AR Administrative Region
مصراتة Misrata District (includes 1988 Bani Walid District and Zlitan District) x x Misrata 4 x Misrata
مزدة Mizda District x Mizda
مرزق Murzuq District (Marzug in 1995) x x Murzaq 5 x Murzuk
النقازة Naggaza 4
نالوت Nalut District x x Nalout Nalut
سبها Sabha District x x Sabha 5 x Sabha
صبراته و صرمان Sabratha wa Sorman District x Sabratha & Sorman
سوف الجين Sawfajjin District 4 x Bani Walid
سرت Sirte District (Khalij Sirte in 1995) x x Sirte 5 x Sirte
تاجوراء والنواحي الأربع Tajura wa Arba‘ District x Tajura
طرابلس Tripoli District x x Tripoli x x Tripoli
ترهونة و مسلاته Tarhuna wa Msalata District (from 1988 Tarhuna District) x Tarhuna & Msalata Tarhuna Tarhuna
وادي الحياة Wadi al Hayaa District (1995 Wadi al Hait?, from 1988 Ubari) x x Wadi al Hait? 5b
وادي الشاطئ Wadi al Shatii District (Shati' in 1988) x x Wadi al Shaati Shati' Adiri[18] or Brak[19]
يفرن Yafran District (Yifren) x Yefrin x Yafran
زليتن Zlitan District x Zliten

For 1995 data, [4] and [5] are the two different sources mentioned in the bibliography:[10] "The Europa World Year Book 2001" and "Ershiyi (21) Shiji Shijie Diming Lu", Beijing, 2001.

For 1988, name is provided if different from nowadays. As said above, AR stands for the three "Administrative Region" of 2001.

Fazzan wasn't strictly a district, but a historical muhafazah or wilayah along with Tripolitania (capital Tripoli) and Cyrenaica (capital Cyrene -near nowadays Shahhat- with Diocletian, moved to Ptolemais after the earthquake of 365, and to Barce -nowadays Barca- with Omer Bin Khattab in 643).

See also


  1. ^ "Baladiyat" (in Arabic). Central Committee for the election of baladiyah councils. Archived from the original on 28 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Baladiyat" (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 25 January 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ "اسماء البلديات" [The names of the baladiyat] (in Arabic). اللجنة المركزية لانتخاب المجالس البلدية [The Central Committee for the election of baladiyah councils]. 26 March 2015. Archived from the original on 13 December 2015.
  4. ^ Vandewalle, Dirk (2015). "Libya's Uncertain Revolution". In Cole, Peter; McQuin, Brian (eds.). The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-19-025733-0.
  5. ^ Ross, Simona; Wolff, Stefan; Marc, Alexandre (26 January 2021). "Building peace through subnational governance: The case of Libya". Brookings Institute.
  6. ^ Pan, Chia-Lin (1949) "The Population of Libya" Population Studies, 3(1): pp. 100–125, p. 104
  7. ^ "Map of Libya 1943–1951" Zentrale für Unterrichtsmedien
  8. ^ شعبيات الجماهيرية العظمى – Sha'biyat of Great Jamahiriya Archived December 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, accessed 10 May 2009, in Arabic
  9. ^ :"Libya population statistics" (in English and Arabic). Geohive. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d "Districts of Libya". Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  11. ^ Libyan General Information Authority Archived 2011-02-24 at the Wayback Machine accessed 22 July 2009
  12. ^ Bureau of Statistics and Census Libya (website).
  13. ^ "الشعبيات بالجماهيرية" ("Districts of Libya") Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, from WebArchive dated 30 August 2006
  14. ^ "Districts of Libya:Alqtron Tjrhi" Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, in Arabic, from Web Archive dated 30 August 2006
  15. ^ "Districts of Libya:Mradq" Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, in Arabic, from Web Archive dated 30 August 2006
  16. ^ "Districts of Libya:Aljgbob" Website of the General People's Committee of Libya, in Arabic, from Web Archive dated 30 August 2006
  17. ^ "Libya" 2006 Statesman's Yearbook
  18. ^ "Districts of Libya". Retrieved 27 October 2009. and German wikipedia
  19. ^ Spanish, Italian, Polish and Portuguese wikipedias