From the eighth century BC onwards (when the region was settled by the Phoenicians), Libya has been conquered and settled several times over. Its archaeological heritage includes both Greek and Roman remains.
Under the United Nations' direction, the country was granted full independence in 1951. King Idris became head of state, pursuing a broadly pro-Western foreign policy while keeping up cordial relations with other Arab states. During the 1950s and 1960s, major discoveries of oil, with consequent benefits for state finances, greatly improved the economic prospects of the country.
In the 1980s and 1990s Libya was ostracised from the international community because of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s political and practical support for various revolutionary and terrorist groups, and its hand in several acts of terrorism in the West. The most serious were the 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed all of the 270 passengers on board. UN sanctions were imposed from 1992 onwards, a measure that cost Libya billions of dollars in revenue. When Gaddafi announced in 2003 that he would give up his nuclear weapons, sanctions were completely lifted and in 2006 Libya was rehabilitated and taken off the US government's list of states sponsoring terrorism.
In May 2001, Libyan troops were dispatched to help prevent a coup against the government of the Central African Republic. Gaddafi gained much support for his initiative, which Libya has partly underwritten, to overhaul the Organisation for African Unity. The OAU was set up in 1963 to promote solidarity, co-ordinate policy and guarantee national sovereignty amongst African states. Now known as the African Union, the new organisation was established in 2002 and is still based in Addis Ababa (the former home of the OAU) with the same membership namely, every African country bar Morocco. The ultimate a
In 2011, as part of the Arab spring that took place across many of the Middle East and northern African countries, there was widespread uprising against Colonel Gaddafi's rule, resulting in civil war. Libyan forces loyal to the transitional council, supported by Nato forces, were eventually successful in their aims, resulting in the eventual unseating and death of Colonel Gaddafi in October 2011. Currently Libya's National Transitional council are acting as the caretaker government. Under Gaddafi, a multi-party state was forbidden; dozens of new parties have sprung up in the wake of the revolution, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for June 2012.