The city’s location has been advantageous for trade and transport throughout its history, and the port serves as a vital gateway for imports and exports, facilitating trade connections between the city, other parts of Libya and countries situated along the Mediterranean Sea.

Misrata’s climate is classified as Mediterranean, meaning it is characterised by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The local climate is influenced by the city’s proximity to the sea, and it experiences relatively moderate temperatures compared to further inland. Summers are typically hot and dry, with average temperatures of above 30° C (86° F), while winters tend to be mild with occasional rain.

Misrata is known as Libya’s commercial capital due to centuries of trade and commerce. The Libyan Iron and Steel Company dominates the city’s manufacturing and heavy industry sectors. There are also companies that are focused on lighter manufacturing and food processing, such as dairy producer Al Naseem.

Another important sector is agriculture, which the city’s surrounding geography provides with extensive water reserves from deep aquifers. Services ranging from restaurants and hotels, to banks and other financial entities, are also central to Misrata’s economy. These segments are likely to increase in size and scope going forwards as the economy diversifies.

Misrata’s location along the coast, as well as its position between the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, is one of its economic advantages. The Libyan Coastal Highway that connects Misrata with these two other cities is the country’s primary road, acting as an economic artery linkng the city to neighbouring Egypt in the east, and Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco to the west.

Being at the centre of this important economic corridor in North Africa allows Misrata to be a nexus between key trading centres. Within the city, a government drive to build infrastructure has led to the construction of several new roads that have helped improve the city’s intra-urban connectivity.

The engine of Misrata’s economic activity is the seaport in the Misurata Free Zone (MFZ), which both manages and oversees its operations. Established in 1978, the port is Libya’s largest, handling some 385,000 containers in 2019 alone. The port is well connected to global supply chains and handles mainly container ships (28% of traffic), general cargo (20%) and bulk carriers (12%). Despite the importance of the oil sector in Libya’s economy, oil and chemical tankers account for only 10% of traffic in the MFZ, as such ships are more concentrated in ports closer to Benghazi in the east.

Misrata’s port is Libya’s largest, with a total potential throughput of 6m tonnes a year and the capacity to receive 4m containers per year. The diverse nature of the goods travelling through its facilities – foodstuffs, livestock, and industrial and petrochemical products, among others – is expected to be an important component in Misrata’s economic diversification.