Libyan Revolution Timeline
Timeline Description: The Libyan Revolution of 1969, also known as the Libyan coup d'état, removed King Idris of Libya from power. Led by a group of rebel military officers, the coup established Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as the new leader of Libya.

Date Event
December 24, 1951 Libya declares itself an independent kingdom.

After World War II, the Allied powers of Britain and France divide and occupy Libya Following negotiations with the United Nations, King Idris declares the independence of the United Kingdom of Libya. The country has a constitution and holds parliamentary elections in a few months, and it retains close ties with Britain and the United States.
December 7, 1953 Britain is allowed military bases in Libya.

In connection with its former occupation of Libya, Britain obtains rights to have military bases in Libya in exchange for financial and military assistance. The United States obtains similar rights the following September.
1958 President Nasser of Egypt encourages Arab nationalism.

President Gamel Abdel Nasser of Egypt oversees the unification of Egypt and Syria as the United Arab Republic, of which he becomes president. Nasser dreams of bringing the entire Arab world into the United Arab Republic, and he encourages Arab nationalism. Young Libyans are attracted to his brand of nationalism.
June 1959 Oil is discovered in Libya.

After years of exploration by a number of companies, researchers confirm the discovery of petroleum deposits in Libya. The discovery transforms Libya into a powerful player in the global economy.
September 1961 Libya begins exporting oil.

With the opening of a 167-km long pipeline, Libya begins exporting oil. Libya's crude oil can be refined into a higher proportion of gasoline, ideal for European automobiles, and its location on the Mediterranean makes transportation much easier than Middle Eastern oil. By 1965, Libya is the world's sixth-largest oil exporter.
April 25, 1963 Libya reforms its government into a monarchy.

Libya's federal system of government has long been cumbersome. In April, the federal system of government is abolished and the country's name changed to the Kingdom of Libya.
June 5, 1967 The Six-Day War galvanizes Libyan nationalists.

The Six-Day War breaks out between Egypt and Israel, and Israel decisively defeats Egyptian forces. Violent protests break out in Libya, and nationalists damage a number of British and American offices. Libyan nationalists grow more resentful of British and American influence, particularly in Libya's oil business.
June 1969 King Idris leaves Libya.

Having long suffered from ill health, King Idris leaves Libya to recuperate in Greece and Turkey. He leaves Crown Prince Hasan as-Senussi as regent in his absence.
September 1, 1969 Military officers overthrow the Libyan government.

In a bloodless coup, a group of military officers known as the Free Unionist Officers overthrows King Idris of Libya in his absence.The officers establish a military junta and name the new regime the Libyan Arab Republic.Thousands of Libyans voice their support for the revolution.
September 8, 1969 Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is named leader of the armed forces.

A new cabinet is announced in the republic, and 27-year-old Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is named commander in chief of the armed forces.The country is led by civilian ministers, who twice threaten to resign.
January 16, 1970 Gaddafi becomes prime minister of Libya.

Colonel Gaddafi takes the title of prime minister. As leader, he pursues a policy of Arab unity and proposes a series of mergers and federations with neighboring countries. He also calls for an end to colonialism in Libya, an attitude that later turns his government into a fervent anti-Western dictatorship.
March 31, 1970 British forces leave Libya.

After Gaddafi orders foreign forces to abandon their military bases in Libya, the British leave Tobruk airbase. U.S. forces later abandon their own military bases.
July 7, 1970 Libya nationalizes its oil industry.

Libya initiates a socialist-style nationalization of its oil industry. This gives the country more control over profits and development of the industry. Additionally, all property belonging to Italian settlers is nationalized.
July 1, 1972 The Federation of Arab Republics forms.

After several failed referendums, the Federation of Arab Republics unites Libya, Egypt, and Sudan. The federation lasts until 1977.
April 16, 1973 Gaddafi announces a cultural revolution.

Blending Islamic orthodoxy, Arab nationalism, and revolutionary socialism, Gaddafi announces a cultural revolution. He reinstates traditional Islamic laws, such as prohibition of alcoholic beverages and gambling; liberates women; and launches social programs that improve the standard of living.