Libya Travel Guide/ Advice/ Tourist and Tourism General Information
Whilst most Libyans identify themselves as Arabs, there has been much intermarriage between Berbers and other indigenous peoples over the centuries. These Arabic-speaking Muslims of mixed Arab and Berber ancestry make up 90 percent of the country’s population. Berbers, other indigenous minority peoples and black Africans make up most of the remainder.
A nomadic characteristic is the hospitality shown to strangers. They were quick to help their Arab conquerors and this generosity is a trait much in evidence today. Libyans are modern people, outward-looking and with strong connections to Europe. The friendliness and hospitality of the Libyan people is one of the most overwhelming memories of a trip to Libya, alongside a wealth of superb sights.
If people come up to you in the street, it is likely that they are curious and would like to talk to you, especially if they speak any English. Smile and be welcoming – offer to shake their hand if they are a man. For a woman, only do so if she offers her hand first. If people offer to host you in their own houses, this is quite natural and you can feel happy to accept. Never offer a Libyan money for the help or hospitality that they offer you as this could be highly offensive.
Not to be taken lightly are the three absolute rules regarding alcohol, respect in mosques and ‘decency’. Namely:
• Emphatically don’t take any alcohol into the country nor ask for any when you are there.
• Always remove your shoes before entering mosques and private houses, no matter how long or hard it is to do so.
• Kissing, sitting on your partner’s lap or any other physical expressions of affection in public are considered inappropriate.
Time: GMT +1 hour
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