Libya has the largest proven oil reserves of any African country and gets 95 per cent of its revenue from oil exports.
Since it emerged from economic isolation in 2003, big oil companies have been rushing to tap its oil wealth:
Four major US firms signed exploration contracts in 2005 and Libya agreed to buy British missiles and air defence systems in return for oil exploration rights, given to British company BP, two years later.
France signed a deal to supply nuclear technology and Libya agreed to buy Airbus planes from France later the same year and, in 2008, Russia cancelled $4.5 billion of Libyan debts in exchange for several contracts, which included upgrading Libyan railways.
Al Jazeera's Amr el-Khaky reports from Tripoli, which has now become a thriving metropolis as a result.
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