The new digital and social media to discover Arabia and the Middle East. Offbeat. Innovative.

What does the flag of Libya mean?

Libya's history could be told in two parts: before independence and after independence. This Maghreb state was dominated by Western powers for a long time before it was able to proclaim its autonomy in 1951 in the form of a monarchy. A past rich in upheaval, reflected in the elements that make up the flag of Libya today. What does it mean? We tell you everything!

The flag of Libya: what does it look like?


Like most flags in the Arab world, the flag of Libya proudly displays the so-called pan-Arab colors: red, black, green and white. The first three take the form of horizontal stripes. But they are not all the same height. The middle one, in black, is more imposing and contains in its heart a crescent moon and a five-pointed star. Both are turned towards the part of the float. These two elements are white. Finally, the other particularity of the Libyan flag is its rectangular shape. 


The flag of Libya: what is the meaning of its symbols?


But then what does the flag of Libya mean? Let’s start with the colors! For Arab countries, white usually represents peace, black symbolizes battles – green the pastures but also Islam – and red is the color of the sword. For Libya, these colors take on a more precise meaning, reflecting its territory and its history. Indeed, the three horizontal stripes represent the three main provinces of the country: Fezzan, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. Moreover, the red color pays tribute to the martyrs of the battles that took place between 1912 and 1943, when Libya was under Italian rule. As for the black, it evokes the standard of the Senoussi (Muslim brotherhood of Libyan origin). Last details, the crescent moon and the five-pointed star represent Islam. 


The flag of Libya: what is its history?


The flag of Libya has known many twists and turns! The current version was adopted in December 1951, when Libya gained independence. A very important date for this North African state which until then had always lived under foreign domination. But in 1969, following the coup d’état of Muammar Gaddafi, the flag of Libya was changed. It was now formed by three horizontal stripes only: red, white and black, from top to bottom. A short-lived model, replaced in 1977 by a flag with a green background during the regime of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. It is only in August 2011 that the 1951 flag, in force today, is re-adopted.