How does Libya get so rich? The answer is oil. The country has a lot of oil, and does not allow foreign corporations to steal the resources while the population starves, unlike countries like Nigeria, a country that is basically run by Shell.
The true leader of Libya is an indirectly elected prime-minister. The current prime-minister is
Baghdadi Mahmudi. Calling Khadaffi the leader of Libya is comparable to calling Akihito the leader of Japan. Contrary to what your media is sketching, opinions in Libya vary. Some people support Gadaffi but want Mahmudi out. Others want both out. Many just want to live their life in peace. However, effort is taken to sketch the appearance of a popular revolt against the supposed leader of Libya, Gadaffi, when in fact he is just the architect of Libya's current political system, a mixture of pan-Arabism, socialism, and Islamic government.
Videos of Pro-Gaddafi protests are disappearing from Youtube as we speak. "Pro Gaddafi Anti Baghdadi Mahmudi demonstrations in" youtube.com/watch?v=Ce5fLGNg0sk is gone. "Pro Gaddafi protests in front of Libyan embassy London" youtube.com/watch?v=pRwv0Ac8qbc Is gone. Youtube deletes any video containing gore normally, except when it's from Libya. Apparently more traumatizing to it's viewers than chopped up bodies are Libyans who do not jump on the bandwagon and enter the streets to force Gadaffi out.
This is also why the Libyan government responds by importing mercenaries. Tribal allegiances go before allegiance to the government, especially in Benghazi, and thus the central government has no control over the eastern part of the country anymore. The alternative to mercenaries is a conflict between the various ethnic groups. Gadaffi has tried for 41 years to make the country more homogeneous, but opposition groups funded by outside forced will take little more than a few days to put the country back into the 19th century, before the region was conquered and unified by Europeans. The violence is indeed excessive, but everyone seems to forget that the situation is not the same as in Tunis and Egypt. Tribal ties play a far greater role, and thus the conflict will unfortunately be bloodier.
Please remember at all times that the violent Libyan civil war unfolding now is not comparable to the revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Both of these revolutions involved peaceful protesters suffering from poverty, in opposition to their corrupt governments. The chaos in Libyan consists of a mixture of tribal conflicts, conflict over oil revenue (since most oil is in the east of the country), radical islamists opposed to Gadaffi's system of government, and outside destabilization by Western funded exile groups.
Gadaffi took control in a bloodless coup from a sick monarch away for medical treatment 41 years ago. His ideology is based on unification and he attempted to peacefully merge his country with Egypt and Syria. It would take a miracle for the violence unfolding now to lead to a single stable democratic government in Libya, with full control over the entire country. The country is more than twice the size of Pakistan, but with 6 million inhabitants. Endless deserts divide many of the cities in the nation. If anything we should ask ourselves how many more nations will be shattered into pieces in the coming months, as the world cheers.