Postage stamps and postal history of Libya

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A 1956 mint stamp showing the provinces that came together to form modern Libya
A map of Libya before unification
A British stamp with a Middle East Forces overprint valid for use in occupied Libya

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Libya. Libya is a country located in North Africa. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Libya lies between Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west.

Italian colony[edit]

The area which is now Libya was originally a vilayet of the Ottoman Empire which was ceded to Italy in 1912[1] and became an Italian colony.

Stamps of Italy were issued from 1912 overprinted Libia and later Italian colonial issues were issued specifically for Libya.[2] All stamps of colonial Libya were printed at the Italian Government Printing Works.[2]

From 1924 to 1934 Tripolitania and Cyrenaica had their own stamps before being unified in 1934, with Fezzan, as the Italian colony of Libya. Italian colonial issues continued until 1943 when Italian Libya was overrun by the British Army during the Second World War.

British stamps[edit]

British stamps overprinted M.E.F. (Middle East Forces) were used from 1943 to 1948 after the area was captured by the British during World War II. From 1 July 1948 stamps overprinted B.M.A. TRIPOLITANIA were used. Tripolitania only, used stamps marked B.A. TRIPOLITANIA from 6 February 1950 to December 1951.[1]

Kingdom of Libya[edit]

In 1949 the British authorities recognised Amir Mohammed Idris Al-Senussi as Emir of Cyrenaica, giving him internal autonomy. On 24 December 1951 Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan were unified as the Kingdom of Libya.

The first stamps of modern Libya were issued on 24 December 1951 and were overprinted stamps of Cyrenaica. Three different types of overprint were used, for the three provinces of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan. The first stamps inscribed Kingdom of Libya were issued on 15 April 1952. A variety of inscriptions were used until 1969 including Libye, Libya, Libia and United Kingdom of Libia or Libya.[3]

Libyan Arab Republic[edit]

In 1969 King Idris I was deposed in a military coup and stamps including the word Kingdom were altered in a variety of ways to delete that word. Stamps were first issued marked L.A.R. then LAR and from the 1970s began to be inscribed Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya with equivalent wording in Arabic.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rossiter, Stuart & John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald, 1986, p.275. ISBN 0-356-10862-7
  2. ^ a b Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part 8 Italy & Switzerland. 6th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2003, pp.190-194. ISBN 0-85259-554-9
  3. ^ a b Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part 13 Africa since Independence F-M. 1st edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 1981, pp.125-150. ISBN 0-85259-176-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Tchilinghirian, S.D. & Rag. R. Bernardelli. Stamps of Italy used abroad. London: Harris Publications Ltd., 1963-74.

External links[edit]