Subdivisions of Libya have varied significantly over the last two centuries. Initially Libya under Ottoman and Italian control was organized into three to four provinces, then into three governorates (muhafazah) and after World War II into twenty-five districts (baladiyah). Successively into thirty-two districts (shabiyat) with three administrative regions, and then into twenty-two districts (shabiyat). In 2012 the ruling General National Congress divided the country into governorates (muhafazat) and districts (baladiyat). While the districts have been created, the governorates have not.
At first, Italy continued the tripartite administration, but soon consolidated the area into a single province/gobernatorate administered as the "Libyan Colony". Indeed, until about 1931 -when the last of the native resistance to the Italians was subdued- the area was divided into three historical regions (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan/"Territorio Sahara").
Then, in 1937, Italian governor Italo Balbo created the political entity called Libya. His Italian Libya was with four provinces and one territory: Tripoli, Misurata, Benghazi, Derna, (in the coastal north) and the "Territory of the Libyan Sahara" (in the Saharan south).
The Provinces of Libya existed during the last period of colonial Italian Libya through post-independence Libya. The country was divided into provinces from 1934 in the colonial era to 1963 when the Governorates system was instituted.
(on the map)
|Jabal al Akhdar||Bayda||120,662||5|
|Nuqat al Khams||Zuwara||181,584||9|
In 1983, a new system was introduced dividing the country into forty-six districts (baladiyat also sometimes translated as municipalities). In 1987 this number was reduced to twenty-five.
On 2 August 1995, Libya reorganized into thirteen districts (sha`biyat - singular sha`biyah, also translated as municipalities or popularates). In 1998 this was increased to twenty-six districts (sha`biyat). In 2001 it was increased to thirty-two districts plus three administrative regions. Finally in 2007 the number was reduced to twenty-two districts.
Under Gaddafi Libyan districts were further subdivided into Basic People's Congresses Arabic: ? (Mu'tamar sha?bi as?si ). Geographically they corresponded approximately to the level of a township or borough. In desert areas they often had an extensive land area with very low population, and were generally centered on, and named for, an oasis.
|year||number of divisions||name of divisions|
|historically (Persians)||1(?) Barqa Shatrapani/Satrapy||Shatrapani/satrapy|
|historically (Greeks)||1(?) Libya Satrapy||satrapy|
|historically Roman Empire||Roman Libya: Creta et Cyrenaica||province|
|historically Ottoman Empire (Ottoman Tripolitania)||Ottoman Tripolitania 1||vilayet|
|colonised territory (1st phase)
Italian North Africa,
from 1912 to 1927
|1 (Italian Libya) or
|governorate or province|
|colonised territory (2nd phase)
Italian North Africa
from 1927 to 1934
|2 (Italian Cyrenaica,Italian Tripolitania)
|governorate or province|
|colonised territory (3rd phase)
from 1934 to 1937
|3 (Cyrenaica, Fezzan, Tripolitania) or
|colonised territory (4th phase)
Provinces of the Fourth Shore
within the Italian Colonial Empire
from 1937 to 1940
|4 (Tripoli, Bengazi, Derna, Misurata) or
5 (along with Southern Military Territory) or
|colonised territory (5th phase)
after World War II
from 1943 to 1951
|3 (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania were British; Fezzan-Ghadames was French)||province|
|after independence in 1951-1952 (Kingdom of Libya)||3||muhafazah (governorate)|
|in Kingdom of Libya after 1963 and
in Libyan Jamahiriya after 1969 coup d'état
|after 1995||13||shabiyah (district)|
|after 1998||26||shabiyah (district)|
|after 2001||32||shabiyah (district)|
|after 2007||22||shabiyah (district)|
|after 2013||99 to 108||baladiyah|