The official and national language of Libya is Arabic. The type of Arabic that is spoken is modern standard Arabic, which has been officially used since Libya gained independence in 1951. However, Arabic has been a central language in Libya since the arrival of the Bedouin Arabs of Banu Hilal and Banu Sulayam who invaded Maghrib in the 11th century.
The Libyan Arabic belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family and is divided into two dialects: the eastern dialect which is spoken by the Benghazi and Bayda and the western dialect (Maghrebi) which is spoken in Tripoli and Misurata. The formal written language continues to be Modern Standard Arabic unless it is being used in Libyan folk poetry or cartoons. Libyan Arabic dialects are different to other types of Arabic as they include language influences from throughout Libyan history including Italian, Berber, Spanish, Turkish and English as well as some Old Arabic. However, for the most part, Libyan Arabic follows classical Arabic and can be understood by other Arabic speakers.
In 2016, it was recorded that 4,190,000 people in Libya speak Arabic. Libyan Arabic is taught in Primary and Secondary schools and used in literature, radio, tv and videos.
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