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A great slab of dusty desert land carved out of the North African Maghreb, Libya conceals vast oil reserves beneath its arid hinterland. Unfortunately, political instability has rocked the country since the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring in 2011, when dictator Muammar Gaddafi was finally toppled from power after more than 40 years at the helm. Today, the nation is still embroiled in factional conflicts aplenty, barring travelers from the wild beauties and human relics that exist here between the Med and the half-baked Sahara. When the great swathes of sandy land that form the heartland of Libya do finally open up again, visitors can expect to explore the three cities of Roman Tripolis; Leptis Magna that was raised by the Romans close to Al Khums, the old port city of Sabratha, and the 2,600-year old Greek settlement of Cyrene, set between the green slopes of Shahhat on the fringes of the Mediterranean Sea. Libya tour guides will tell you there is so much more, as they lead you through the labyrinthine streets of Ghadames, help you decipher the rock art at Tadart Acacus and show off the arabesque majesty of the great Red Castle in Tripoli, where mosque minarets soar high and sprawling souks issue the scents of spices and earthy couscous dishes alike.