Most of the country lies in the Sahara desert, thus much of its population is gathered along the coast, which is ideally located for shipping access to major oceans. The history of Libya, one of invasion and war, has left a varied cultural legacy: conquest in Libya started with the Romans in 74 BC, and then the Arabs conquered it in AD 643. In the 16th century, it became part of the Ottoman Empire before being seized by the Italians for about three decades. Numerous rich cultural and archaeological sites are located in Libya as a testimony of many successive empires, for example, the remains of the ancient cities of Cyrene, Leptis Magna, Sabratha, and Ghadames, and the ancient rock art at Tadrart Acacus, have all been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Before WW1 it experienced a 20-year insurgency and in 1942, the country was captured by the allies and divided between the French and the British, winning its independence in later 1951. Before the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, Libya was considered severely limited in natural resources, especially due to its desert environment. The government long exerted strong control over the economy and attempted to develop agriculture and industry and establish a welfare state with wealth derived from its huge oil revenues. However, Libya fell under an authoritarian state with the long-ruling leader al-Qaddafi, who displayed a political ideology rooted in socioeconomic egalitarianism and direct democracy. Opposition to the regime turned into an unprecedented armed revolt that in 2011 forced Gaddafi out of power.
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