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Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions since 1991 and the end of the devastating 15-year civil war. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have 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, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government 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.

The Lebanon has recently been extensively bombed by Israel and large areas of the country are devastated. The airport and ports are still closed.


Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria

Geographic coordinates:

33 50 N, 35 50 E


total: 10,400 sq km
land: 10,230 sq km
water: 170 sq km

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: 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

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


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.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

2,800 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

less than 200 (2003 est.)


noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Lebanese

Ethnic groups:

Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%


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


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.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Lebanese Republic
conventional short form: Lebanon
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah
local short form: Lubnan

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

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


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 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


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

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)

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):

$20.42 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$20.1 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

0.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$5,300 (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.)

Unemployment rate:

18% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line:

28% (1999 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

2.4% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

25.5% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $4.953 billion
expenditures: $6.595 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

170% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

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


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

Electricity - production:

10.67 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

10.67 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

750 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

102,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$4.09 billion (2005 est.)


$1.782 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

authentic jewellery, inorganic chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper

Exports - partners:

Syria 24.9%, UAE 10%, Turkey 6.9%, Switzerland 6.7%, Saudi Arabia 5.3% (2004)


$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 11.3%, France 10.5%, Syria 9.8%, Germany 8.6%, China 5.8%, US 5.5%, UK 4.6% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$15.34 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$25.92 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)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

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)

Television broadcast stations:

15 (plus 5 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

3,365 (2005)

Internet users:

600,000 (2005)


7 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2005)


oil 209 km (2004)


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 during the civil war in the 1980s; short sections are operable (2004)


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 branches:

Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army, Navy, and Air Force

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