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). 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.
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.
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.
Shabiyah (Arabic: ?a?biyyah, plural: ?a?biyy?t) 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".
The current list is as following:
|Map no.||Name||English transliteration||Area (km2)||Population |
|3||Al Jabal al Akhdar||11,429||203,156|
|14||An Nuqat al Khams||6,089||287,662|
|15||Al Jabal al Gharbi||76,717||304,159|
|18||?||Wadi ash Shati'||97,160||78,532|
|20||?||Wadi al Hayat||31,485||76,858|
The 2001 reorganization of Libya into districts (shabiya) resulted in thirty-two districts and three administrative regions (? ):
|Hizam al Akhdar||108,860||12,800||3|
|Jabal al Akhdar||194,185||7,800||4|
|Nuqat al Khams||208,954||5,250||10|
|?||Tajura wa Arba'||267,031||1,430||24|
|?||Tarhuna wa Msalata||296,092||5,840||25|
|?||Sabratha wa Sorman||152,521||1,370||29|
|?||Wadi al Hayaa||72,587||31,890||30|
|?||Wadi al Shatii||77,203||97,160||31|
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
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.
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, 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.
|/||Name||2007 (22)||2001 (32)||Name in 1998 (26)||1995 (13)||1988 (25)||Capital|
|?||Butnan District (Tobruk in 1995, from 1988 Tobruk District)||x||x||Batan||x||Tobruk||Tobruk|
|Hizam al Akhdar District||x||Aybar|
|Jabal al Akhdar||x||x||Jabal al Akhdar||x||x||Bayda|
|Jabal al Gharbi District||x||x||Gharyan|
|?||Jaghbub Administrative Region||AR||Administrative Region|
|?||Jafara (from 1988 'Aziziya District)||x||x||Jafara||'Aziziya||'Aziziya|
|Kufra District||x||x||Kufra||5||x||Al Jawf|
|Marj District (1983-1988 Fati District)||x||x||Marj||Fati||Marj, Barca in antiquity|
|Murqub District (Morqib) (from 1995 & 1988 Khoms District)||x||x||Murqub||5||Khoms||Khoms|
|?||Qatrun Administrative Region||AR||Administrative Region|
|Quba District||x||Quba||Quba, or Giovanni Berta|
|?||Al Wahat District (Waha in 1995)||x||x||Wahad||4||Ajdabiya (cf. Ajdabiya District)|
|Nuqat al Khams (Nikat al Khums in 1995)||x||x||Nikat al Khams||5||x||Zuwara|
|?||Bani Walid District (from 1988 Sawfajjin District)||x||Bani Walid||Bani Walid|
|?||Fezzan (or Fazzan)||4||Sabha|
|Ghat District (from 1988 Ubari)||x||x||Ghat|
|Marada Administrative Region||AR||Administrative Region|
|Misrata District (includes 1988 Bani Walid District and Zlitan District)||x||x||Misrata||4||x||Misrata|
|?||Murzuq District (Marzug in 1995)||x||x||Murzaq||5||x||Murzuk|
|?||Sabratha wa Sorman District||x||Sabratha & Sorman|
|Sawfajjin District||4||x||Bani Walid|
|Sirte District (Khalij Sirte in 1995)||x||x||Sirte||5||x||Sirte|
|?||Tajura wa Arba' District||x||Tajura|
|?||Tarhuna wa Msalata District (from 1988 Tarhuna District)||x||Tarhuna & Msalata||Tarhuna||Tarhuna|
|?||Wadi al Hayaa District (1995 Wadi al Hait?, from 1988 Ubari)||x||x||Wadi al Hait?||5b|
|?||Wadi al Shatii District (Shati' in 1988)||x||x||Wadi al Shaati||Shati'||Adiri or Brak|
|?||Yafran District (Yifren)||x||Yefrin||x||Yafran|
For 1995 data,  and  are the two different sources mentioned in the bibliography: "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).