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Flag of Lebanon
Map of Lebanon
Introduction Lebanon
Background:
Following the capture of Syria from the Ottoman Empire by Anglo-French forces in 1918, France received a mandate over this territory and separated out a region of Lebanon in 1920. France granted this area independence in 1943. A 15-year civil war (1976-1991) 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 disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hizballah, a radical Shi'a organization listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, retains its weapons. 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. Damascus justified its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing Beirut's requests and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, however, encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The passage of UNSCR 1559 in early October 2004 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - further emboldened Lebanese groups opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 20 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"). Syria finally withdrew the remainder of its military forces from Lebanon 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 two-thirds majority to the bloc led by Saad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son.
Geography Lebanon
Location:
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
Geographic coordinates:
33 50 N, 35 50 E
Map references:
Middle East
Area:
total: 10,400 sq km
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
Coastline:
225 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate:
Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows
Terrain:
narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Qurnat as Sawda' 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)
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, 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
Population:
3,874,050 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.5% (male 523,220/female 502,372)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 1,235,915/female 1,342,540)
65 years and over: 7% (male 122,155/female 147,848) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 27.8 years
male: 26.7 years
female: 28.9 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.23% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
18.52 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
6.21 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 23.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.88 years
male: 70.41 years
female: 75.48 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.9 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,800 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
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
Religions:
Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, 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
Languages:
Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.4%
male: 93.1%
female: 82.2% (2003 est.)
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:
republic
Capital:
name: Beirut
geographic coordinates: 33 53 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:
8 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Aakkar, Baalbek-Hermel, Beyrouth, Beqaa, Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye
Independence:
22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 22 November (1943)
Constitution:
23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta'if Accord) of October 1989
Legal system:
mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Emile LAHUD (since 24 November 1998)
head of government: Prime Minister Fuad SINIORA (since 30 June 2005); Deputy Prime Minister Elias MURR (since April 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 15 October 1998 (next to be held in 2007 based on three-year extension); note - on 3 September 2004 the National Assembly voted 96 to 29 to extend Emile LAHUD's six-year term by three years; the prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly; by agreement, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the legislature is a Shi'a Muslim
election results: for 15 October 1998 election: Emile LAHUD elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 votes in favor, 0 against, 10 abstentions
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Majlis Alnuwab (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 in four rounds on 29 May, 5, 12, 19 June 2005 (next to be held 2009)
election results: percent of vote by group - NA; seats by group - Future Movement Bloc 36; Democratic Gathering 15; Development and Resistance Bloc 15; Loyalty to the Resistance 14; Free Patriotic Movement 14; Lebanese Forces 6; Qornet Shewan 5; Popular Bloc 4; Tripoli Independent Bloc 3; Syrian National Socialist Party 2; Kataeb Reform Movement 2; Tachnaq Party 2; Democratic Renewal Movement 1; Democratic Left 1; Nasserite Popular Movement 1; Ba'th Party 1; Kataeb Party 1; independent 5
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:
Ba'th Party; Democratic Gathering [Walid JUMBLATT]; Democratic Left [Ilyas ATALLAH]; Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib LAHUD]; Development and Resistance Bloc [Nabih BERRI, Amal Movement leader/Speaker of the National Assembly]; Free Patriotic Movement [Michel AWN]; Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad HARIRI]; Kataeb Party [Karim PAKRADONI]; Kataeb Reform Movement [Amine GEMAYAL]; Lebanese Forces [Samir JA'JA]; Loyalty to the Resistance [Mohammad RA'AD]; Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]; Nasserite Popular Movement [Ussama SAAD]; National Bloc [Carlos EDDE]; Popular Bloc [Elias SKAFF]; Qornet Shewan Gathering [a grouping with no individual leader]; Syrian National Socialist Party [Ali QANSU]; Tachnaq Party; Tripoli Independent Bloc [a grouping with no individual leader]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
none
International organization participation:
ABEDA, ACCT, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. Farid ABBOUD
chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6320
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6324
consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey D. FELTMAN
embassy: Awkar, Lebanon
mailing address: P. O. Box 70-840, Antelias, Lebanon; PSC 815, Box 2, FPO AE 09836-0002; from 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
Economy Lebanon
Economy - overview:
The 1975-91 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 began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and privatizing state enterprises. In November 2002, the government met with international donors at the Paris II conference to seek bilateral assistance in restructuring its massive domestic debt at lower interest rates. Substantial receipts from donor nations stabilized government finances in 2003, but did little to reduce the debt, which stands at nearly 170% of GDP. In 2004 the HARIRI government issued Eurobonds in an effort to manage maturing debt. The downturn in economic activity that followed the assassination of Rafiq al-HARIRI has eased, but has yet to be reversed. Tourism remains below the level of 2004. The new Prime Minister, Fuad SINIORA, has pledged to push ahead with economic reform, including privatization and more efficient government. The Core Group of nations has announced plans to hold a Donor's Conference in early 2006 to assist the government of Lebanon in restructuring its debt and increasing foreign investment.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$23.69 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$20.7 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.5% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$6,200 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 12%
industry: 21%
services: 67% (2000)
Labor force:
2.6 million
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2001 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
18% (1997 est.)
Population below poverty line:
28% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.4% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
18.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $4.953 billion
expenditures: $6.595 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)
Public debt:
180.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industries:
banking, tourism, food processing, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
Industrial production growth rate:
NA%
Electricity - production:
10.67 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 97.2%
hydro: 2.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
10.67 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
750 million kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
102,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Current account balance:
-$4.239 billion (2005 est.)
Exports:
$1.782 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities:
authentic jewelry, inorganic chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners:
Syria 24.9%, UAE 11.2%, Switzerland 8%, Turkey 7%, Saudi Arabia 5.9% (2005)
Imports:
$8.855 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities:
petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco
Imports - partners:
Italy 11.1%, Syria 10.7%, France 9.2%, Germany 6.5%, China 5.4%, US 5.3%, UK 4.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.3% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$16.62 billion (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
$26 billion (2005 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$2.2 billion received (2003), out of the $4.2 billion in soft loans pledged at the November 2002 Paris II Aid Conference
Currency (code):
Lebanese pound (LBP)
Currency code:
LBP
Exchange rates:
Lebanese pounds per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2005), 1,507.5 (2004), 1,507.5 (2003), 1,507.5 (2002), 1,507.5 (2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Lebanon
Telephones - main lines in use:
630,000 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
888,000 (2004)
Telephone system:
general assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete
domestic: two commercial wireless networks provide good service; political instability hampers privatization and deployment of new technologies
international: country code - 961; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean) (erratic operations); coaxial cable to Syria; 3 submarine coaxial cables
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 20, FM 22, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios:
2.85 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
15 (plus 5 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions:
1.18 million (1997)
Internet country code:
.lb
Internet hosts:
3,365 (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
22 (2000)
Internet users:
600,000 (2005)
Transportation Lebanon
Airports:
7 (2006)
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 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2006)
Pipelines:
oil 209 km (2004)
Railways:
total: 401 km
standard gauge: 319 km 1.435 m
narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050 m
note: rail system became unusable because of damage done during fighting in the 1980s and in 2006 (2006)
Roadways:
total: 7,300 km
paved: 6,198 km
unpaved: 1,102 km (1999)
Merchant marine:
total: 42 ships (1000 GRT or over) 161,231 GRT/187,140 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 20, livestock carrier 10, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 3, vehicle carrier 4
foreign-owned: 2 (Greece 2)
registered in other countries: 53 (Antigua and Barbuda 1, Barbados 2, Cambodia 1, Comoros 3, Egypt 2, Georgia 5, Honduras 1, North Korea 14, Liberia 1, Malta 8, Mongolia 1, Panama 1, Portugal 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4, Syria 7, unknown 1) (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Beirut, Chekka, Jounie, Tripoli
Military Lebanon
Military branches:
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army, Navy, and Air Force
Military service age and obligation:
18-30 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 974,363
females age 18-49: 1,024,273 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 821,762
females age 18-49: 865,770 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$540.6 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.1% (2004)
Transnational Issues Lebanon
Disputes - international:
Lebanese Government claims Shab'a Farms area of 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): 404,170 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA))
IDPs: 300,000 (1975-90 civil war, Israeli invasions) (2005)
Illicit drugs:
cannabis cultivation dramatically reduced to 2,500 hectares in 2002; 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

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006