Libya Cultural Overview
More than 90 percent of Libya’s population is a mixture of Berber and Arab ancestry. Berbers were the natives who occupied the land before the arrival of Arabs. An overwhelming majority of Libyans are Muslims. Most Libyans belong to the Sunni school of Islam, brought during the conquest by Arabs. Islam is central to Libyan life. Libyan life revolves around the regular religious practices advocated by Islam with most of the citizens attending regular prayers at mosques. Women pray at home.
The national language of Libya is Arabic. The government officially discourages the use of other languages. English is the most popular second language taught in schools regularly. Also, Latin is known as second language in certain circles. In the main cities, only a few people may speak English. Latin is also a bit popular among older people. Berbers and Tuareg groups retain speaking their own tribal languages.
Islamic Clothing of Libya
Libyan men wear loose cotton shirts upon trousers and cover themselves with a cloak. They also wear a flat, brimless cap. Libyan women wear full-length robe. Most of the Libyan population living in cities is turning towards western styles of dress. Some older men and women continue their affiliation to traditional clothing, especially during festivals and celebrations. It is very common to see members of the same family dressed in traditional and in European styles. Urban girls of Libya wear bright colored western costumes while boys wear jeans and shirts. Though many resort to European styles, most women continue the Islamic tradition by covering their faces.
Libyan cuisines are a mix of Arabic and Mediterranean, strongly influenced by Italian delicacy. Pasta and macaroni, typical to Italy are very popular in Libyan menus. The national dish is the most popular couscous, a dish made from semolina or a type of wheat flour. For preparing this, the flour is sprinkled with oil and water and rolled into tiny grains. These grains are then steamed and served as a base for meat and potatoes. Couscous can be mixed with several types of sauces and can be consumed with a variety of meats and vegetables. Couscous can also be taken with honey and milk, especially seen during the breakfast. Mutton is the most popular meat, while chicken is served occasionally. Sharba is a type of highly spiced soup typical to the country. Bazin is a local dish like a hard paste made from barley adding salt and water.
Libyan Social Life
Libya is a highly conservative Islamic society. Because of over crowding, many Libyans live in single homes with extended family. High-rise buildings can be seen only in large cities meant for offices and apartments. Rural people live in stone or mud brick houses often having a single room for all their activities apart from a shed for animals. Despite conscious efforts by the government, there is repression of women, excepting those living in coastal cities. Even till today, women have very little educational opportunity and it is not quite common to see working women.