There are twenty-two districts of Libya, known by the term shabiyah (Arabic singular شعبية šaʿbiyya, plural šaʿbiyyāt). In the 1990s these replaced the older baladiyat system.
Historically the area of Libya was considered three provinces (or states), Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the southwest. It was the conquest by Italy in the Italo-Turkish War that united them in a single political unit. Under the Italians Libya was eventually divided into four provinces and one territory: Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi, Derna, (in the north) and the Territory of the Libyan Sahara (in the south). After the French and British occupied Libya in 1943, it was again split into three provinces: Tripolitania in the northwest, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan-Ghadames in the southwest.
Article 176 of the constitution of Libya stated "The Kingdom of Libya shall be divided into administrative units in conformity with the law to be promulgated in this connection. Local and regional councils may be formed in the Kingdom. The extend of these units shall be determined by law which shall likewise organize these Councils." in exact quote.
After independence (1951), Libya was divided into three governorates (muhafazat), matching the three provinces of before, but in 1963 it was divided into ten governorates. In 1983 a new system was introduced dividing the country into forty-six districts (baladiyat). In 1987 this was reduced to twenty-five districts.
On 2 August 1995, Libya reorganized into thirteen districts (shabiyat). In 1998 this was increased to 26 shabiyat districts. In 2001 it was increased to thirty-two districts plus three administrative regions. Finally in 2007 it was reduced to twenty-two districts.
For historical evolution see also: Subdivisions of Libya.
Libyan districts are further subdivided into Basic People's Congresses which act as townships or boroughs.
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