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Lebanon, See : Flags, Maps

Lebanon (Middle East)

Introduction ::Lebanon

Byblos, Lebanon, Gallery


Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French separated out the region of Lebanon in 1920, and granted this area independence in 1943. A lengthy civil war (1975-1990) devastated the country, but Lebanon has since made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater voice in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, Lebanon has conducted several successful elections. Most militias have been reduced or disbanded, with the exception of Hizballah, designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and Palestinian militant groups. During Lebanon's civil war, the Arab League legitimized in the Ta'if Accord Syria's troop deployment, numbering about 16,000 based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and the passage in September 2004 of UNSCR 1559 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 22 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"), and Syria withdrew the remainder of its military forces in April 2005. In May-June 2005, Lebanon held its first legislative elections since the end of the civil war free of foreign interference, handing a majority to the bloc led by Sa'ad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son. In July 2006, Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel in which approximately 1,200 Lebanese civilians were killed. UNSCR 1701 ended the war in August 2006, and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) deployed throughout the country for the first time in decades, charged with securing Lebanon's borders against weapons smuggling and maintaining a weapons-free zone in south Lebanon with the help of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The LAF in May-September 2007 battled Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp, winning a decisive victory, but destroying the camp and displacing 30,000 Palestinian residents. Lebanese politicians in November 2007 were unable to agree on a successor to Emile LAHUD when he stepped down as president, creating a political vacuum until the election of LAF Commander Gen. Michel SULAYMAN in May 2008 and the formation of a new unity government in July 2008. Legislative elections in June 2009 again produced victory for the bloc led by Sa'ad HARIRI, but a period of prolonged negotiation over the composition of the cabinet ensued. A national unity government was finally formed in November 2009 and approved by the National Assembly the following month. In January 2010, Lebanon assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2010-11 term.

Geography ::Lebanon


Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and

Geographic coordinates:
33 50 N, 35 50 E

Map references:

Middle East


total: 10,400 sq km country comparison to the world: 169 land: 10,230 sq km

water: 170 sq km

Area - comparative:

about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries:

total: 454 km

border countries: Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km


225 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm


Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers;
Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows


narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

highest point: Qornet es Saouda 3,088 m

Natural resources:

limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 16.35%

permanent crops: 13.75%

other: 69.9% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,040 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

4.8 cu km (1997)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 1.38 cu km/yr (33%/1%/67%)

per capita: 385 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

dust storms, sandstorms

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Beirut from vehicular traffic and the burning of industrial wastes; pollution of coastal waters from raw sewage and oil spills

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note:

Nahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity

People ::Lebanon


4,125,247 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 127

Age structure:

0-14 years: 25.8% (male 528,047/female 506,838)

15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,294,485/female 1,399,047)

65 years and over: 7.2% (male 130,148/female 158,530) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 29.4 years

male: 28.3 years

female: 30.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.621% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 146

Birth rate:

15.1 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 137

Death rate:

6.46 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 151

Net migration rate:

-2.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population country comparison to the world: 179


urban population: 87% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 1.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 16.4 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 115 male: 16.52 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 16.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.79 years country comparison to the world: 90 male: 73.28 years

female: 76.36 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.78 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 160

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 119

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

3,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 131

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 200 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 109


noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)

adjective: Lebanese

Ethnic groups:

Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%

note: many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians


Muslim 59.7% (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri),
Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic,
Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian
Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant),
other 1.3%

note: 17 religious sects recognized


Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 87.4%

male: 93.1%

female: 82.2% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2009)

Education expenditures:

2% of GDP (2008) country comparison to the world: 169

Government ::Lebanon

Country name:

conventional long form: Lebanese Republic

conventional short form: Lebanon

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah

local short form: Lubnan

former: Greater Lebanon

Government type:



name: Beirut

geographic coordinates: 33 52 N, 35 30 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:

6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye

note: two new governorates - Aakar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented


22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 22 November (1943)


23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently in 1990 to include changes necessitated by the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta'if Accord) of October 1989

Legal system:

mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; the constitutional court reviews laws only after they have been passed; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education; excludes military personnel

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Michel SULAYMAN (since 25 May 2008)

head of government: Prime Minister Najib MIQATI (since 25 January 2011)

cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly; note - the Cabinet resigned on 12 January 2010 following the resignation of over a third of the ministers (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 25 May 2008 (next to be held in 2014); the prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly

election results: Michel SULAYMAN elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 for, 6 abstentions, 3 invalidated; 1 seat unfilled due to death of incumbent

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab (Arabic) or Assemblee Nationale (French) (128 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)

election results: percent of vote by group - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by group - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57

Judicial branch:

four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases); Constitutional Council (called for in Ta'if Accord - rules on constitutionality of laws); Supreme Council (hears charges against the president and prime minister as needed)

Political parties and leaders:

14 March Coalition: Democratic Left [Ilyas ATALLAH]; Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib LAHUD]; Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad al-HARIRI]; Kataeb Party [Amine GEMAYEL]; Lebanese Forces [Samir JA'JA]; Tripoli Independent Bloc

8 March Coalition: Development and Resistance Bloc [Nabih BERRI, leader of Amal Movement]; Free Patriotic Movement [Michel AWN]; Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc [Mohammad RA'AD] (includes Hizballah [Hassan NASRALLAH]); Nasserite Popular Movement [Usama SAAD]; Popular Bloc [Elias SKAFF]; Syrian Ba'th Party [Sayez SHUKR]; Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali QANSO]; Tashnaq [Hovig MEKHITIRIAN]

Independent: Democratic Gathering Bloc [Walid JUNBLATT, leader of
Progressive Socialist Party]; Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Maronite Church [Patriarch Nasrallah SFAYR]

other: note - most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps

International organization participation:

UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Antoine CHEDID

chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 939-6300
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6324

consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Maura CONNELLY

embassy: Awkar, Lebanon (Awkar facing the Municipality)

mailing address: P. O. Box 70-840, Antelias, Lebanon; from US: US Embassy Beirut, 6070 Beirut Place, Washington, DC 20521-6070

telephone: [961] (4) 542600, 543600
FAX: [961] (4) 544136

Flag description:

three horizontal bands consisting of red (top), white (middle, double width), and red (bottom) with a green cedar tree centered in the white band; the red bands symbolize blood shed for liberation, the white band denotes peace, the snow of the mountains, and purity; the green cedar tree is the symbol of Lebanon and represents eternity, steadiness, happiness, and prosperity

National anthem:

name: "Kulluna lil-watan" (All Of Us, For Our Country!)

lyrics/music: Rachid NAKHLE/Wadih SABRA

note: adopted 1927; the anthem was chosen following a nationwide competition

Economy ::Lebanon

Economy - overview:

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. In the years since, Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the Rafiq HARIRI government in 2000 began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and passing legislation to privatize state enterprises, but economic and financial reform initiatives stalled and public debt continued to grow despite receipt of more than $2 billion in bilateral assistance at the 2002 Paris II Donors Conference. The Israeli-Hizballah conflict in July-August 2006 caused an estimated $3.6 billion in infrastructure damage, and prompted international donors to pledge nearly $1 billion in recovery and reconstruction assistance. Donors met again in January 2007 at the Paris III Donor Conference and pledged more than $7.5 billion to Lebanon for development projects and budget support, conditioned on progress on Beirut's fiscal reform and privatization program. An 18-month political stalemate and sporadic sectarian and political violence hampered economic activity, particularly tourism, retail sales, and investment, until the new government was formed in July 2008. Political stability following the Doha Accord of May 2008 helped boost tourism and, together with a strong banking sector, enabled real GDP growth of 7% per year in 2009-10 despite a slowdown in the region.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$58.65 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 87 $54.71 billion (2009 est.)

$51.18 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$39.15 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

7.2% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 17 6.9% (2009 est.)

9.3% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$14,200 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 82 $13,300 (2009 est.)

$12,700 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 5.1%

industry: 15.9%

services: 79% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

1.481 million country comparison to the world: 132 note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: NA%

industry: NA%

services: NA%

Unemployment rate:

Population below poverty line:

28% (1999 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Investment (gross fixed):

30.8% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 15

Public debt:

150.7% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 4 154.8% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 108 1.2% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

10% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 35 12% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

9.57% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 93 9.96% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$3.692 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 104 $3.21 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$92.01 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 53 $82.07 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$62.68 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 59 $56.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$12.89 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 67 $9.641 billion (31 December 2008)

$10.86 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats


banking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating

Industrial production growth rate:

2.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126

Electricity - production:

10.41 billion kWh (2009) country comparison to the world: 90

Electricity - consumption:

9.793 billion kWh (2009) country comparison to the world: 88

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports:

1.114 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 155

Oil - consumption:

90,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 78

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2009) country comparison to the world: 186

Oil - imports:

86,750 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 160

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 166

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 121

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 163

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 101

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 155

Current account balance:

-$6.972 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 172 -$7.555 billion (2009 est.)


$5.187 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 107 $4.716 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper

Exports - partners:

Switzerland 22%, UAE 10%, Iraq 8%, Saudi Arabia 7% (2009)


$17.97 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 75 $15.9 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals

Imports - partners:

US 11%, France 10%, China 9%, Italy 8%, Germany 8%, Turkey 4%,
Ukraine 4.55%, Turkey 4.5% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$41.57 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 27 $39.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$34.45 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 61 $31.89 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

Exchange rates:

Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2010), 1,507.5 (2009), 1,507.5 (2008), 1,507.5 (2007), 1,507.5 (2006)

Communications ::Lebanon

Telephones - main lines in use:

750,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 88

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1.526 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 138

Telephone system:

general assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete

domestic: two mobile-cellular networks provide good service; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 55 per 100 persons

international: country code - 961; submarine cable links to Cyprus, Egypt, and Syria; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean); coaxial cable to Syria (2009)

Broadcast media:

7 TV stations in operation, 1 of which is state-owned; more than 30 radio stations, 1 of which is state-owned; satellite and cable TV services are available; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible through partner stations (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

51,451 (2010) country comparison to the world: 87

Internet users:

1 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 101

Transportation ::Lebanon


7 (2010) country comparison to the world: 169

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 5

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)


gas 43 km (2009)


total: 401 km country comparison to the world: 118 standard gauge: 319 km 1.435 m

narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050 m

note: rail system unusable because of the damage done during fighting in the 1980s and in 2006 (2008)


total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005) country comparison to the world: 148

Merchant marine:

total: 29 country comparison to the world: 85 by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 12, carrier 11, refrigerated cargo 1, vehicle carrier 2

foreign-owned: 3 (Syria 3)

registered in other countries: 40 (Barbados 2, Cambodia 6, Comoros 3, Egypt 1, Georgia 1, Honduras 2, Liberia 1, Malta 7, Moldova 1, Panama 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4, Syria 2, Togo 6, unknown 2) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Beirut, Tripoli

Military ::Lebanon

Military branches:

Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army ((Al Jaysh al Lubnaniya) includes
Navy (Al Quwwat al Bahiriyya al Lubnaniya), Air Force (Al Quwwat al
Jawwiya al Lubnaniya)) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2007)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 1,075,503

females age 16-49: 1,112,139 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 917,404

females age 16-49: 940,238 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 37,856

female: 36,072 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

3.1% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 41

Transnational Issues ::Lebanon

Disputes - international:

lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms area in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights; the roughly 2,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been in place since 1978

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 405,425 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)); 50,000-60,000 (Iraq)

IDPs: 17,000 (1975-90 civil war, Israeli invasions); 200,000
(July-August 2006 war) (2007)

Illicit drugs:

cannabis cultivation dramatically reduced to 2,500 hectares in 2002 despite continued significant cannabis consumption; opium poppy cultivation minimal; small amounts of Latin American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin transit country on way to European markets and for Middle Eastern consumption; money laundering of drug proceeds fuels concern that extremists are benefiting from drug trafficking


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