The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Libyan Politicians of all time. This list of famous Libyan Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Libyan Politicians.
With an HPI of 82.87, Muammar Gaddafi is the most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 132 different languages on wikipedia.
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: مُعمّر محمد عبد السلام القذّافي, c. 1942 – 20 October 2011) was a Libyan revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He was the de facto leader of Libya from 1969 to 2011, first as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then as the Brotherly Leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. Initially ideologically committed to Arab nationalism and Arab socialism, he later ruled according to his own Third International Theory. Born near Sirte, Italian Libya, to a poor Bedouin Arab family, Gaddafi became an Arab nationalist while at school in Sabha, later enrolling in the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi. Within the military, he founded a revolutionary group which deposed the Western-backed Senussi monarchy of Idris in a 1969 coup. Having taken power, Gaddafi converted Libya into a republic governed by his Revolutionary Command Council. Ruling by decree, he deported Libya's Italian population and ejected its Western military bases. Strengthening ties to Arab nationalist governments—particularly Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt—he unsuccessfully advocated pan-Arab political union. An Islamic modernist, he introduced sharia as the basis for the legal system and promoted "Islamic socialism". He nationalized the oil industry and used the increasing state revenues to bolster the military, fund foreign revolutionaries, and implement social programs emphasizing house-building, healthcare and education projects. In 1973, he initiated a "Popular Revolution" with the formation of Basic People's Congresses, presented as a system of direct democracy, but retained personal control over major decisions. He outlined his Third International Theory that year in The Green Book. Gaddafi transformed Libya into a new socialist state called a Jamahiriya ("state of the masses") in 1977. He officially adopted a symbolic role in governance but remained head of both the military and the Revolutionary Committees responsible for policing and suppressing dissent. During the 1970s and 1980s, Libya's unsuccessful border conflicts with Egypt and Chad, support for foreign militants, and alleged responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland left it increasingly isolated on the world stage. A particularly hostile relationship developed with Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom, resulting in the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya and United Nations–imposed economic sanctions. From 1999, Gaddafi shunned pan-Arabism, and encouraged pan-Africanism and rapprochement with Western nations; he was Chairperson of the African Union from 2009 to 2010. Amid the 2011 Arab Spring, protests against widespread corruption and unemployment broke out in eastern Libya. The situation descended into civil war, in which NATO intervened militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafist National Transitional Council (NTC). Gaddafi's government was overthrown; he retreated to Sirte, only to be captured and killed by NTC militants. A highly divisive figure, Gaddafi dominated Libya's politics for four decades and was the subject of a pervasive cult of personality. He was decorated with various awards and praised for his anti-imperialist stance, support for Arab—and then African—unity, as well as for significant development to the country following the discovery of oil reserves. Conversely, many Libyans strongly opposed Gaddafi's social and economic reforms; he was posthumously accused of sexual abuse. He was condemned by many as a dictator whose authoritarian administration systematically violated human rights and financed global terrorism in the region and abroad.
With an HPI of 76.38, Septimius Severus is the 2nd most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 82 different languages.
Lucius Septimius Severus (Latin: [sɛˈweːrʊs]; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present-day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of the emperor Pertinax in 193 during the Year of the Five Emperors. After deposing and killing the incumbent emperor Didius Julianus, Severus fought his rival claimants, the Roman generals Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus. Niger was defeated in 194 at the Battle of Issus in Cilicia. Later that year Severus waged a short punitive campaign beyond the eastern frontier, annexing the Kingdom of Osroene as a new province. Severus defeated Albinus three years later at the Battle of Lugdunum in Gaul. Following the consolidation of his rule over the western provinces, Severus waged another brief, more successful war in the east against the Parthian Empire, sacking their capital Ctesiphon in 197 and expanding the eastern frontier to the Tigris. He then enlarged and fortified the Limes Arabicus in Arabia Petraea. In 202, he campaigned in Africa and Mauretania against the Garamantes, capturing their capital Garama and expanding the Limes Tripolitanus along the southern desert frontier of the empire. He proclaimed as augusti (co-emperors) his elder son Caracalla in 198 and his younger son Geta in 209, both born of his second wife Julia Domna. Severus travelled to Britain in 208, strengthening Hadrian's Wall and reoccupying the Antonine Wall. In 209 he invaded Caledonia (modern Scotland) with an army of 50,000 men but his ambitions were cut short when he fell fatally ill of an infectious disease in late 210. He died in early 211 at Eboracum (today York, England), and was succeeded by his sons, who were advised by their mother and his powerful widow, Julia Domna, thus founding the Severan dynasty. It was the last dynasty of the Roman Empire before the Crisis of the Third Century.
With an HPI of 68.81, Idris of Libya is the 3rd most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Muhammad Idris bin Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi (Arabic: إدريس, romanized: Idrīs; 13 March 1890 – 25 May 1983) was a Libyan political and religious leader who was King of Libya from 24 December 1951 until his overthrow on 1 September 1969. He ruled over the United Kingdom of Libya from 1951 to 1963, after which the country became known as simply the Kingdom of Libya. Idris had served as Emir of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania from the 1920s until 1951. He was the chief of the Senussi Muslim order. Idris was born into the Senussi Order. When his cousin Ahmed Sharif as-Senussi abdicated as leader of the Order, Idris took his position. The Senussi campaign was taking place, with the British and Italians fighting the Order. Idris put an end to the hostilities and, through the Modus vivendi of Acroma, abandoned Ottoman protection. Between 1919 and 1920, Italy recognized Senussi control over most of Cyrenaica in exchange for the recognition of Italian sovereignty by Idris. Idris then led his Order in an unsuccessful attempt to conquer the eastern part of the Tripolitanian Republic. Following the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly called for Libya to be granted independence. It established the United Kingdom of Libya through the unification of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, appointing Idris to rule it as king. Wielding significant political influence in the impoverished country, he banned political parties and in 1963 replaced Libya's federal system with a unitary state. He established links to the Western powers, allowing the United Kingdom and United States to open military bases in the country in return for economic aid. After oil was discovered in Libya in 1959, he oversaw the emergence of a growing oil industry that rapidly aided economic growth. Idris' regime was weakened by growing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist sentiment in Libya as well as rising frustration at the country's high levels of corruption and close links with Western nations. While in Turkey for medical treatment, Idris was deposed in a 1969 coup d'état by army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi.
With an HPI of 67.85, Simon of Cyrene is the 4th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Simon of Cyrene (Hebrew: שמעון, Standard Hebrew Šimʿon, Tiberian Hebrew Šimʿôn; Greek: Σίμων Κυρηναῖος, Simōn Kyrēnaios; died CE 100) was the man compelled by the Romans to carry the cross of Jesus of Nazareth as Jesus was taken to his crucifixion, according to all three Synoptic Gospels:And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. He was also the father of the disciples Rufus and Alexander.
With an HPI of 55.85, Fayez al-Sarraj is the 5th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj (Arabic: فائز السراج or فايز السراج; born 20 February 1960) is a Libyan politician who served as the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and Head of Government of the Government of National Accord from 2016 to 2021, which was formed on 17 December 2015 under the Libyan Political Agreement. He has been a member of the Parliament of Tripoli.
With an HPI of 55.36, Pedubast I is the 6th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Pedubastis I or Pedubast I was an Upper Egyptian Pharaoh of ancient Egypt during the 9th century BC.
With an HPI of 54.65, Gaius Fulvius Plautianus is the 7th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.
Gaius or Lucius Fulvius Plautianus (c. 150 – 22 January 205) was a member of the Roman gens Fulvia. Like Sejanus, Perennis and Cleander, as head of the Praetorian Guard, he was formally extraordinarily powerful and influential in the administration of state affairs, and was involved with Julia Domna, the powerful wife of Septimius Severus, who played a prominent public and political role, in influencing the emperor's decisions. Plautianus was originally from Leptis Magna, southeast of Carthage (modern Libya, North Africa). He was a maternal cousin and long-time friend of the Emperor Septimius Severus. Plautianus' father was another Gaius Fulvius Plautianus, born c. 130, whose sister, Fulvia Pia (c. 125 - after 198), was married to Severus' father Publius Septimius Geta.Plautianus was Praefectus vigilum (commander of the Vigiles in Rome) from 193 to 197.Plautianus was appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard in 197. Due to their friendship, Severus rewarded Plautianus with various honors, including a consular insignia, a seat in the Roman Senate and the Consulship of 203. During his consulship, Plautianus' image was minted on coins along with Severus' second son, Publius Septimius Geta. He assisted Severus in administering the empire and became very wealthy and powerful. Severus made him his second in command. He competed with Julia Domna, the wife of the Emperor, in running the government (she too helped her husband run the empire, but was behind the scenes because of her gender). In 202, Plautianus married his daughter, Publia Fulvia Plautilla, to Caracalla (Severus’ first son and co-emperor) in Rome. Plautianus began to conduct himself like a ruthless ruler, having those who opposed him assassinated or executed at will. He became so powerful that Caracalla and his effective mother, Julia Domna, began to be concerned. Aware of her reservations, Plautianus sought to disrepute, dishonor and disempower Julia. He had her servants and friends arrested and tortured in hopes of extracting some damaging testimony against her; however, he was unsuccessful in his efforts.The aforementioned marriage between Caracalla and Plautilla was not a happy one - In fact, Caracalla loathed both her and her father, threatening to kill them after becoming sole emperor. When Plautianus discovered this, he plotted to overthrow Severus' family.This deeply troubled Julia Domna, who began plotting Plautianus's downfall. When Plautianus' treachery was discovered, the imperial family summoned him to the palace and ordered his death on 22 January 205. From this point onwards, the Empress became only the chief political advisor to her husband the Emperor; as Augusta of the empire, she was now the only influential person in the government to help Severus run the empire. After his death, at the request of Julia Domna, Plautianus’ property was confiscated, his name was erased from public monuments, and his son of the same name, his daughter and his granddaughter were exiled to Sicily. They were all strangled on Caracalla's orders in early 212.
With an HPI of 53.82, Ptolemy Apion is the 8th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.
Ptolemy Apion or simply known as Apion (Ancient Greek: Πτολεμαῖος Ἀπίων; between 150 BC and 145 BC – 96 BC) was the last Greek King of Cyrenaica who separated it from the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, and in his last will bequeathed his country to Rome. He was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty.
With an HPI of 53.77, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is the 9th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 42 different languages.
Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi (Arabic: سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي; born 25 June 1972) is a Libyan political figure. He is the second son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his second wife Safia Farkash. He was a part of his father's inner circle, performing public relations and diplomatic roles on his behalf. He publicly turned down his father's offer of the country's second highest post and held no official government position. According to United States Department of State officials in Tripoli, during his father's reign, he was the second most widely recognized person in Libya, being at times the de facto prime minister, and was mentioned as a possible successor, though he rejected this. An arrest warrant was issued for him on 27 June 2011 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges of crimes against humanity against the Libyan people, for killing and persecuting civilians, under Articles 7(1)(a) and 7(1)(h) of the Rome statute. He denied the charges. Gaddafi was captured in southern Libya by the Zintan militia on 19 November 2011, after the end of the Libyan Civil War, and flown by plane to Zintan. He was sentenced to death on 28 July 2015 by a court in Tripoli for crimes during the civil war, in a widely criticised trial conducted in absentia. He remained in the custody of the de facto independent authorities of Zintan. On 10 June 2017, he was released from prison in Zintan, according to a statement from Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion. Later the same month, his full amnesty was declared by the Tobruk-based government led by Khalifa Haftar. As of December 2019, Gaddafi remained wanted under his ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity. On 14 November, he attempted to register as a candidate in the 2021 Libyan presidential election, but was rejected. This decision was overturned less than a month later, reinstating him as a presidential candidate.
With an HPI of 53.27, Aguila Saleh Issa is the 10th most famous Libyan Politician. His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.
Aguila Saleh Issa (Arabic: عقيلة صالح عيسى; born January 11, 1944) is a Libyan jurist and politician who is the Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives since 5 August 2014. He is also a representative of the town of Al Qubbah, in the east of the country.
Pantheon has 37 people classified as politicians born between 900 BC and 2000. Of these 37, 17 (45.95%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Fayez al-Sarraj, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and Aguila Saleh Issa. The most famous deceased politicians include Muammar Gaddafi, Septimius Severus, and Idris of Libya. As of April 2022, 6 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Aguila Saleh Issa, Hodierna of Jerusalem, and Arcesilaus I of Cyrene.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 12 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.