Libya 1 dinar (2004)

Muammar Gaddafi is featured on the front of this banknote. Gadaffi was 27 years old when he led a bloodless coup d’etat, abolished the monarchy, and established the Libyan Arab Republic in 1969.

Libya 1 dinar (2004)

The Mawlai Mosque in Tripoli is featured on the back of this banknote.

Muammar Gaddafi was oriented nationally towards socialism and internationally towards Pan-Africanism. He had the good fortune of coming to power at the beginning of Libya’s surging oil-based wealth, and the passing of the the international leader of the pan-African movement, his next-door neighbor, the King of Algeria.


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The flag above represented the Kingdom of Libya from Independence in 1951 until the 19969 coup d’etat that brought Muammar al-Gaddafi to power. Upon the demise of Gaddafi in 2011, this same flag was restored to represent the Republic of Libya.

The images above are from banknotes of our country. Select an image for its story.

The land is old, truly old. In olden days, the world was considered as eruba, the land upon which the sun sets, Europe, asusa, the land upon which the sun rises, Asia, and, libya. Libya was the vast unknown territory south of the Great Sea, around which was civilization.1

Tripoli is the capital city and figures prominently in history.2

Roman Libya…

Islamic Libya…

Ottoman Libya…

The European colonial era…

The European colonial era for Libya extended from 1910 when Italy invaded and commenced its territorial claims, through WW2 during which Britain and France assumed administration, until 1952 when Libya became independent.

The war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire,3 from 1911 to 1912, resulted in Italy’s capture of the provinces that would become known as Italian Libya.4

Libyan infrastructure advanced considerably under Italian rule, particularly in the 1930s, until it was interrupted by war.

From after the Great War to the Arab Spring …

Following the Great War of the 20th century, that which spanned from 1914 to 1945, the recently formed United Nations, the UN, the present manifestation of Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations, declared that Libya should be, and shall be, an independent state, prior to January 1, 1952. A constitution was created establishing a federal system with separate parliaments for each of three main constituting regions, British administrated Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, and, French administrated Fezzan. A King was chosen by national assembly in 1950, King Idris I. And so it was that on December 24, 1951, Libya declared its independence; and it was not significantly contested.

Oil exploration and development advanced rapidly under the King’s rule; and Libya’s wealth advanced commensurately.

A small group led by 27 year old Muammar Gaddafi staged a coup d’etat on September 1, 1969, abolished the monarchy and established the Libyan Arab Republic. Gaddafi was an advocate of Pan-Africanism.5 6 7 When neighboring leader, president of Algeria Kwame Nkrumah a leader in the pan-african movement, passed away in 1972, Gaddafi became the most prominent and outspoken leader of the movement, calling for a United States of Africa. In 2008, surrounded by 200 leaders in Africa, Gaddafi was proclaimed King of Kings8in 2008, and died in the uprisings associated with the Arab Spring in 2011.

Since the Arab Spring…

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Libya 1 dinar – Post 2011 Civil War

Images of peace and happiness adorn the front and back of this 2013 banknote of Libya. The banknote, the 1st new issue since the Gadaffi era, was issued February 17, 2013, the 2nd anniversary of the Libyan revolution.

Libya One dinar, back
Libya 1 dinar 2013 back
Libya 1 dinar 2013 front

The people’s jubilation is unmistakable. The flags the people are flying are the clue to the people’s celebration. The tricolor red black and green bearing the white star and crescent was the original flag of Libyan independence, and once again, after 42 years, was their flag, the flag of Libya, their country.

1951 – 1969 The flag of The Kingdom of Libya from 1951 independence until the 1969 coup d’etat that brought Gadaffi to power.

1969 – 1972 The flag of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 – 1972 under Gadaffi.

1972 – 1977 The flag of the Federation of Arab Republics 1972 – 1979 under Gadaffi.

1977 – 2011 Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya under Gadaffi.

1977 – 2011 Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya under Gadaffi (the flag has a revised aspect ratio)

2011 – present Libya after the Arab Spring.

Tripolitania 10 Lira banknote front (2)

Libya Tripolitania – 10 Lire – Year 1943 – WW2

Libya Tripolitania – 10 Lire Banknote – Year 1943 – Face and Back
Libya Tripolitania - 10 Lire banknote year 1943
Tripolitanian Lira, era WW2, 20th century

“Issued by the Military Authority in Tripolitania” reads our banknote prominently across the obverse top center.  The Tripolitanian Lira was issued in this region under British command, generally now known as Libya, during and immediately following World War 2.  It was replaced in 1952 with the Libyan pound, Libya having become independent the preceding year, 1951.  Tripoli today is the largest city in Libya., Benghazi being the second largest city.

Tripolitania, on the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa, is a region populated since time immemorial, and prominent since, at least, the Carthaginian empire, a great competitor of the early Roman empire.  A city, on the site of present day Tripoli, was founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC; and was subsequently overtaken by the Greeks and then the Carthaginians.  With the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, Tripolitania came under the governance of Rome until the Fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.  The 8th century Muslim Conquest brought Tripolitania under the influence of Islam, and the 15th century Ottoman Conquest brought it into the new empire.

A military coup d’etat brought Omar Gaddafi to power in 1969.  Gaddafi ruled until he was overthrown in the 2011 civil war, a part of the Arab Spring.

Tripolitania 10 Lira banknote back (2)
Tripolitanian 10 Lira

Tripoli has an ancient heritage.  Americans may recall the name in the lyric from the theme song of the Marine division of its armed forces, “ the shores of Tripoli“.  A Barbary wars fought around Tripoli were perhaps the official first armed conflict of the newly birthed United States.

Oea was founded by the Phoenenicians two thousand seven hundred years ago on the southern Mediterranean coast. Ocea, together with later rising cities of Sabratha and Leptis Magna, became known a the three cities, or Tripolis, by the Greeks and then the Romans.