Libya uses the Libyan dinar as its official national currency. The dinar is quite a common currency across several countries in the world today, but this version is unique to Libya and is only used by this particular country.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
Each dinar is divided into 1,000 dirham. The dirham is still in use as a subunit although there are only two coins available in this denomination. These are the 50 and 100 dirham coins. There are also two other dinar coins, which are the ¼ and ½ dinar coins.
There are only five banknotes in circulation in Libya, which are the 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 dinar notes.
From past to present – the history of the Libyan dinar
Originally Libya used the Libyan pound. However this situation came to an end when the Libyan dinar was introduced towards the end of 1971. It has been in use in the country ever since. With that said though, the history of the dinar itself goes back much further than this, stretching back hundreds of years.
How to get hold of the Libyan dinar
Libya is one of those countries where cash is the preferred way to pay for things. It helps to remember this before you go as it will enable you to take enough cash in another currency to exchange once you get there. You won’t be able to get the Libyan dinar before you leave. The best currencies to take in are the US dollars or British pounds, although the euro is also accepted. You can make it easier to exchange these currencies by making sure you only take notes in larger denominations. You might run into problems if you only have smaller denomination notes.
You can forget about taking traveller’s cheques as they will be next to useless in Libya. You can usually use cash machines but be prepared – there aren’t too many of them around. Tripoli is your best bet (probably your only bet to be honest) although even here it can be a challenge to find them!
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Libyan dinar
Try looking online for a reliable and frequently-updated currency converter. This will give you the figures you need. Decide which currency you will be taking into the country with you and get the conversion rate for that in relation to the Libyan dinar. The best way to find the currency (since it’s not likely to be listed at the top of those given) is to use the ISO code, which is LYD). This will give you easy access to the currency you want.
If you wish to get more information about Libya you should go to their official website for their Libyan Embassy in London. There is an English-speaking version of the site at http://english.libyanembassy.org/.
Travelling safely with the Libyan dinar
It should be noted that at the time of writing the UK government was advising “against all travel” to Libya. This covers the entire country and while the situation is regularly updated it seems in little doubt that the country will be off-limits for the foreseeable future. Of course there are tours to visit the country so you may decide to go anyway, but you should really pay close attention to the situation there and what the UK government provides warnings for. When the entire country is deemed to be unsafe to visit it is best to steer clear for the time being.
As such there is little reason to provide information regarding the safety of your valuables and cash. If you did ever go to the country it makes sense to keep your cash safe by using a hotel safe if possible. Don’t carry more than is absolutely necessary and keep any jewellery you have to a minimum. Perhaps one day it will be safe to travel to the country to see what it has to offer, but until then it seems wise to assume it is off-limits.
Where to spend your dinars in Libya – and what to spend them on
Libya is a country that can be found in the northern part of Africa. Its entire northern border faces the Mediterranean Sea, while the eastern border is shared with Egypt. The very south-eastern corner faces Sudan, while the southern reaches of the country face Chad and Niger. Finally Algeria faces a large portion of the western border of Libya, with Tunisia completing the western border section.
The capital of Libya is Tripoli. This has been established as a city for many centuries, although it did begin life with a completely different name. Today the city has some charming areas worth visiting if it ever does become safe to do so. For example the Medina, the old part of the city, is very lively and attracts many tourists. This part of the city is walled so it adds a certain something to the area. Perhaps the main highlight it has to offer is its bazaar, where you can buy all kinds of things to enjoy. Indeed this would definitely be a good place to go if you wanted to buy a few things to take home with you.
The Red Castle Museum (so-called because of the building you will find it in) is also in Tripoli. It is more properly known as the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli, and it is home to many amazing artefacts from an incredibly long period in time. There are prehistoric items here as well as those that come from just a few decades ago. As such it is a good place to go if you want to find out more about Tripoli and the country itself as well.
You may not think of Libya as being home to any UNESCO World Heritage Sites but in fact you’d be wrong. This makes it all the more disappointing that the situation in the country prohibits people from visiting there at the moment. These sites include the spectacular theatre at Leptis Magna. Now this sounds like an incredibly old place to go and you’d be right. There are still many signs of how life was once lived here, not far from Tripoli. One of the undoubted highlights there is the Arch of Septimius Severus. There is one of the same name in Italy too, but here you can marvel at the incredible detail that is still part of this ancient structure. It really is hard to believe it has been standing for so long. There is a basilica here too, not to mention some stunning mosaics. If you could ever visit the country this site should definitely be near the top of your list of places to go.
Elsewhere and not as well-preserved is the temple of Zeus. We’ve all heard of Zeus and this temple is a remnant from the Roman times. It can be found in a place called Cyrene, which is in the eastern part of Libya.
Of course since the northern edge of Libya meets the sea, there are some lovely areas here too that are popular among those wanting to see more of the coast. Some of the coastline here is rocky in nature and very detailed too if you can see it from the water. It makes for some excellent opportunities to take photos.
Finally there is the Sahara Desert, part of which is in Libya. It is known as the Libyan Desert and takes up the north-eastern part of the entire desert area. To have the chance to see this desert and perhaps to explore some of it would be an opportunity many would appreciate. Most important of all are the oases, of which many can be found here.
You can probably tell from the information given above that Libya is home to many amazing sights (and sites). It is just a shame that the situation in the country makes it all but impossible for tourists to appreciate what it has to offer.
Some of these sights have been under threat in the past owing to the precarious situation in the country, not to mention the violence it has sometimes been subjected to. It is unfortunate that this situation does not seem to have waned or passed, but is still mostly uncertain today.
Perhaps one day in the future we will have the chance to go to the country and to view it as a safe and worthwhile place to visit. It seems very much at odds with how things are at the moment, but we can but hope this might be the case. Perhaps it is wishful thinking and it certainly seems to be at the moment, but time will tell. After all the country has a long history that goes back for many centuries and it is still standing today. Perhaps this gives us encouragement that it may eventually be ready to receive visitors once again in the future.