Lebanon as the name of an administrative unit (as opposed to the mountain range) that was introduced with the Ottoman reforms of 1861, as the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate (Arabic: متصرفية جبل لبنان; Turkish: Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı), continued in the name of the State of Greater Lebanon (Arabic: دولة لبنان الكبيرDawlat Lubnān al-Kabīr; French: État du Grand Liban) in 1920, and eventually in the name of the sovereign Republic of Lebanon (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانيةal-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah) upon its independence in 1943.
After the 7th-century Muslim conquest of the Levant, it was part of the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid Seljuk and Fatimid empires. The crusader state of the County of Tripoli, founded by Raymond IV of Toulouse in 1102, encompassed most of present-day Lebanon, falling to the Mamluk Sultanate in 1289 and finally to the Ottoman Empire in 1516. With the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Greater Lebanon fell under French mandate in 1920, and gained independence under president Bechara El Khoury in 1943. Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of relative political stability and prosperity based on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade, interspersed with political turmoil and armed conflict (1948 Arab–Israeli War, Lebanese Civil War 1975–1990, 2005 Cedar Revolution, 2006 Lebanon War, 2007 Lebanon conflict, 2006–08 Lebanese protests, 2008 conflict in Lebanon, 2011 Syrian Civil War spillover, and 2019–20 Lebanese protests).
and destruction of the Crusader state, the County of Tripoli, 1289
The region that is now Lebanon, as with the rest of Syria and much of Anatolia, became a major center of Christianity in the Roman Empire during the early spread of the faith. During the late 4th and early 5th century, a hermit named Maron established a monastic tradition focused on the importance of monotheism and asceticism, near the Mediterranean mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. The monks who followed Maron spread his teachings among Lebanese in the region. These Christians came to be known as Maronites and moved into the mountains to avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities. During the frequent Roman-Persian Wars that lasted for many centuries, the Sassanid Persians occupied what is now Lebanon from 619 till 629.
During the 7th century the Muslim Arabs conquered Syria establishing a new regime to replace the Byzantines. Though Islam and the Arabic language were officially dominant under this new regime, the general populace nonetheless only gradually converted from Christianity and the Syriac language. The Maronite community, in particular, managed to maintain a large degree of autonomy despite the succession of rulers over Lebanon and Syria.
The relative (but not complete) isolation of the Lebanese mountains meant the mountains served as a refuge in the times of religious and political crises in the
During the 11th century the Druze religion emerged from a branch of Shia Islam. The new religion gained followers in the southern portion of Mount Lebanon. The southern portion of Mount Lebanon was ruled by Druze feudal families to the early 14th century. The Maronite population increased gradually in Northern Mount Lebanon and the Druze have remained in Southern Mount Lebanon until the modern era. Keserwan, Jabal Amel and the Beqaa Valley was ruled by Shia feudal families under the Mamluks and the Ottoman Empire. Major cities on the coast, Sidon, Tyre, Acre, Tripoli, Beirut, and others, were directly administered by the Muslim Caliphs and the people became more fully absorbed by the Arab culture.
Following the fall of Roman Anatolia to the Muslim Turks, the Byzantines put out a call to the Pope in Rome for assistance in the 11th century. The result was a series of wars known as the Crusades launched by the Franks from Western Europe to reclaim the former Byzantine Christian territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria and Palestine (the Levant). The First Crusade succeeded in temporarily establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli as Roman Catholic Christian states along the coast. These crusader states made a lasting impact on the region, though their control was limited, and the region returned to full Muslim control after two centuries following the conquest by the Mamluks.
Among the most lasting effects of the Crusades in this region was the contact between the Franks (i.e., the French) and the Maronites. Unlike most other Christian communities in the Eastern Mediterranean, who swore allegiance to Constantinople or other local patriarchs, the Maronites proclaimed allegiance to the Pope in Rome. As such the Franks saw them as Roman Catholic brethren. These initial contacts led to centuries of support for the Maronites from France and Italy, even after the fall of the Crusader states in the region.
On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria. Lebanon was a largely Christian country (mainly Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox enclaves) but it also included areas containing many Muslims and Druze. On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926 establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.
Lebanon gained a measure of independence while France was occupied by Germany. General Henri Dentz, the VichyHigh Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.
After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941, General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by imprisoning the new government. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943. The Allies occupied the region until the end of World War II.
Following the end of World War II in Europe the French mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the part of the League of Nations or its successor the United Nations. The mandate was ended by the declaration of the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission to the United Nations. Article 78 of the UN Charter ended the status of tutelage for any member state: "The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality." So when the UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members, as both Syria and Lebanon were founding member states, the French mandate for both was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained. The last French troops withdrew in December 1946.
Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.
In May 1948, Lebanon supported neighboring Arab countries in a war against Israel. While some irregular forces crossed the border and carried out minor skirmishes against Israel, it was without the support of the Lebanese government, and Lebanese troops did not officially invade. Lebanon agreed to support the forces with covering artillery fire, armored cars, volunteers and logistical support. On 5–6 June 1948, the Lebanese army – led by the then Minister of National Defense, Emir Majid Arslan – captured Al-Malkiyya. This was Lebanon's only success in the war.
100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon because of the war. Israel did not permit their return after the cease-fire. As of 2017 between 174,000 and 450,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon with about half in refugee camps (although these are often decades old and resemble neighborhoods). Palestinians often cannot obtain Lebanese citizenship or even Lebanese identity cards and are legally barred from owning property or performing certain occupations (including law, medicine, and engineering). According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in "appalling social and economic conditions."
With the 1970 defeat of the PLO in Jordan, many Palestinian militants relocated to Lebanon, increasing their armed campaign against Israel. The relocation of Palestinian bases also led to increasing sectarian tensions between Palestinians versus the Maronites and other Lebanese factions.
PLO attacks from Lebanon into Israel in 1977 and 1978 escalated tensions between the countries. On 11 March 1978, eleven Fatah fighters landed on a beach in northern Israel and hijacked two buses full of passengers on the Haifa – Tel-Aviv road, shooting at passing vehicles in what became known as the
demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, established by the UN after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 1978
Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, but retained control of the southern region by managing a 19-kilometre-wide (12 mi) security zone along the border. These positions were held by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Christian militia under the leadership of Major Saad Haddad backed by Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister, Likud's Menachem Begin, compared the plight of the Christian minority in southern Lebanon (then about 5% of the population in SLA territory) to that of European Jews during World War II. The PLO routinely attacked Israel during the period of the cease-fire, with over 270 documented attacks. People in Galilee regularly had to leave their homes during these shellings. Documents captured in PLO headquarters after the invasion showed they had come from Lebanon. Arafat refused to condemn these attacks on the grounds that the cease-fire was only relevant to Lebanon.
In April 1980 the presence of UNIFIL soldiers in the buffer zone led to the At Tiri incident. On 17 July 1981, Israeli aircraft bombed multi-story apartment buildings in Beirut that contained offices of PLO associated groups. The Lebanese delegate to the United Nations Security Council claimed that 300 civilians had been killed and 800 wounded. The bombing led to worldwide condemnation, and a temporary embargo on the export of U.S. aircraft to Israel.
In August 1981, defense minister
Map showing power balance in Lebanon, 1983: Green – controlled by Syria, purple – controlled by Christian groups, yellow – controlled by Israel, blue – controlled by the UN
In the late 1980s, as Amine Gemayel’s second term as President drew to an end, the Lebanese pound collapsed. At the end of 1987 US$1 was worth £L500. This meant the legal minimum wage was worth just $17 a month. Most goods in shops were priced in dollars and a Save the Children director estimated that 2-300,000 children were need of assistance and were living almost entirely on bread which was subsidized by the government. Those that could depended on foreign assistance. Hizbullah was receiving about $3-5 million a month from Iran.
In September 1988, the Parliament failed to elect a successor to President Gemayel as a result of differences between the Christians, Muslims, and Syrians. The Arab League Summit of May 1989 led to the formation of a Saudi–Moroccan–Algerian committee to solve the crisis. On 16 September 1989 the committee issued a peace plan which was accepted by all. A ceasefire was established, the ports and airports were re-opened and refugees began to return.
In the same month, the Lebanese Parliament agreed to the Taif Agreement, which included an outline timetable for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and a formula for the de-confessionalization of the Lebanese political system. The civil war ended at the end of 1990 after sixteen years; it had caused massive loss of human life and property, and devastated the country's economy. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 wounded. Nearly a million civilians were displaced by the war, and some never returned. Parts of Lebanon were left in ruins. The Taif Agreement has still not been implemented in full and Lebanon's political system continues to be divided along sectarian lines.
The internal political situation in Lebanon significantly changed in the early 2000s. After the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the death of former president Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, the Syrian military presence faced criticism and resistance from the Lebanese population.
On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion. Leaders of the March 14 Alliance accused Syria of the attack, while Syria and the March 8 Alliance claimed that Israel was behind the assassination. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassinations that resulted in the death of many prominent Lebanese figures.[nb 5]
The assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution, a series of demonstrations which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. Under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing, and by 26 April 2005 all Syrian soldiers had returned to Syria.
On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched a series of rocket attacks and raids into Israeli territory, where they killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon, resulting in the 2006 Lebanon War. The conflict was officially ended by the UNSC Resolution 1701 on 14 August 2006, which ordered a ceasefire. Some 1,191 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict. Beirut's southern suburb was heavily damaged by Israeli airstrikes.
Demonstrations in Lebanon triggered by the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February 2005
In 2007, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp became the center of the 2007 Lebanon conflict between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. At least 169 soldiers, 287 insurgents and 47 civilians were killed in the battle. Funds for the reconstruction of the area have been slow to materialize.
Between 2006 and 2008, a series of protests led by groups opposed to the pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora demanded the creation of a national unity government, over which the mostly Shia opposition groups would have veto power. When Émile Lahoud's presidential term ended in October 2007, the opposition refused to vote for a successor unless a power-sharing deal was reached, leaving Lebanon without a president.
On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal forces, sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah's communications network was illegal, seized western Beirut, leading to the 2008 conflict in Lebanon. The Lebanese government denounced the violence as a coup attempt. At least 62 people died in the resulting clashes between pro-government and opposition militias. On 21 May 2008, the signing of the Doha Agreement ended the fighting. As part of the accord, which ended 18 months of political paralysis,Michel Suleiman became president and a national unity government was established, granting a veto to the opposition. The agreement was a victory for opposition forces, as the government caved in to all their main demands.
In early January 2011, the national unity government collapsed due to growing tensions stemming from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members for the Hariri assassination. The parliament elected Najib Mikati, the candidate for the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance, Prime Minister of Lebanon, making him responsible for forming a new government. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insists that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Hariri. A report leaked by the Al-Akhbar newspaper in November 2010 stated that Hezbollah has drafted plans for a takeover of the country in case the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues an indictment against its members.
In 2012, the Syrian civil war threatened to spill over in Lebanon, causing more incidents of sectarian violence and armed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli. According to UNHCR, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon increased from around 250,000 in early 2013 to 1,000,000 in late 2014. In 2013, The Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party and the Free Patriotic Movement voiced concerns that the country's sectarian based political system is being undermined by the influx of Syrian refugees. On 6 May 2015, UNHCR suspended registration of Syrian refugees at the request of the Lebanese government. In February 2016, the Lebanese government signed the Lebanon Compact, granting a minimum of €400 million of support for refugees and vulnerable Lebanese citizens. As of October 2016, the government estimates that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians.
On 17 October 2019, the first of a series of mass civil demonstrations erupted; they were initially triggered by planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco and online phone calls such as through WhatsApp, but quickly expanded into a country-wide condemnation of sectarian rule, a stagnant economy and liquidity crisis, unemployment, endemic corruption in the public sector, legislation (such as banking secrecy) that is perceived to shield the ruling class from accountability and failures from the government to provide basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.
Women protesters forming a line between riot police and protesters in Riad el Solh, Beirut
; 19 November 2019
As a result of the protests, Lebanon entered a political crisis, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri tendering his resignation and echoing protestors' demands for a government of independent specialists. Other politicians targeted by the protests have remained in power. On 19 December 2019, former Minister of Education Hassan Diab was designated the next prime minister and tasked with forming a new cabinet. Protests and acts of civil disobedience have since continued, with protesters denouncing and condemning the designation of Diab as prime minister. Lebanon is suffering the worst economic crisis in decades. Lebanon is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to see its inflation rate exceed 50% for 30 consecutive days, according to Steve H. Hanke, professor of applied economics at the Johns Hopkins University.
On 4 August 2020, an explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon's main port, destroyed the surrounding areas, killing over 200 people, and injuring thousands more. The cause of the explosion was later determined to be 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been unsafely stored, and accidentally set on fire that Tuesday afternoon. Protests resumed within days following the explosion, which resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet on 10 August 2020, nonetheless continuing to stay in office in a caretaker capacity. Demonstrations continued into 2021 with Lebanese blocking the roads with burned tires protesting against the poverty and the economic crisis.
The postponement of parliamentary elections would prolong the political deadlock in Lebanon. The European Parliament has called Lebanon's present situation a 'man-made disaster caused by a handful of men across the political class'.
In May 2022, Lebanon held its first election since a painful economic crisis dragged it to the brink of becoming a failed state. Lebanon's crisis has been so severe that more than 80 percent of the population is now considered poor by the United Nations. In the election Iran-backed Shia Muslim Hezbollah movement and its allies lost their parliamentary majority. Hezbollah did not lose any of its seats, but its allies lost seats. Hezbollah’s ally, President Michel Aoun'sFree Patriotic Movement, was no longer the biggest Christian party after the election. A rival Christian party, led by Samir Geagea, with close ties to Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese Forces (LF), made gains. Sunni Future Movement, led by former prime minister Saad Hariri, did not participate the election, leaving a political vacuum to other Sunni politicians to fill.
The country's surface area is 10,452 square kilometres (4,036 sq mi) of which 10,230 square kilometres (3,950 sq mi) is land. Lebanon has a coastline and border of 225 kilometres (140 mi) on the Mediterranean Sea to the west, a 375 kilometres (233 mi) border shared with Syria to the north and east and a 79 kilometres (49 mi) long border with Israel to the south. The border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms.
The narrow and discontinuous coastal plain stretches from the Syrian border in the north where it widens to form the Akkar plain to Ras al-Naqoura at the border with Israel in the south. The fertile coastal plain is formed of marine sediments and river deposited alluvium alternating with sandy bays and rocky beaches. Lebanon's mountains rise steeply parallel to the Mediterranean coast and form a ridge of limestone and sandstone that runs for most of the country's length. The mountain range varies in width between 10 km (6 mi) and 56 km (35 mi); it is carved by narrow and deep gorges. The Lebanon mountains peak at 3,088 metres (10,131 ft) above sea level in Qurnat as Sawda' in North Lebanon and gradually slope to the south before rising again to a height of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft) in Mount Sannine. The Beqaa valley sits between the Lebanon mountains in the west and the Anti-Lebanon range in the east; it is a part of the Great Rift Valley system. The valley is 180 km (112 mi) long and 10 to 26 km (6 to 16 mi) wide, its fertile soil is formed by alluvial deposits. The Anti-Lebanon range runs parallel to the Lebanon mountains, its highest peak is in Mount Hermon at 2,814 metres (9,232 ft).
Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate. In coastal areas, winters are generally cool and rainy whilst summers are hot and humid. In more elevated areas, temperatures usually drop below freezing during the winter with heavy snow cover that remains until early summer on the higher mountaintops. Although most of Lebanon receives a relatively large amount of rainfall, when measured annually in comparison to its arid surroundings, certain areas in north-eastern Lebanon receives only little because of the rain shadow created by the high peaks of the western mountain range.
In ancient times, Lebanon was covered by large forests of cedar trees, the national emblem of the country. Millennia of deforestation have altered the hydrology in Mount Lebanon and changed the regional climate adversely. As of 2012, forests covered 13.4% of the Lebanese land area; they are under constant threat from wildfires caused by the long dry summer season.
As a result of longstanding exploitation, few old cedar trees remain in pockets of forests in Lebanon, but there is an active program to conserve and regenerate the forests. The Lebanese approach has emphasized natural regeneration over planting by creating the right conditions for germination and growth. The Lebanese state has created several nature reserves that contain cedars, including the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, the Jaj Cedar Reserve, the Tannourine Reserve, the Ammouaa and Karm Shbat Reserves in the Akkar district, and the Forest of the Cedars of God near Bsharri. Lebanon had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 3.76/10, ranking it 141st globally out of 172 countries.
In 2010, the Environment Ministry set a 10-year plan to increase the national forest coverage by 20%, which is equivalent to the planting of two million new trees each year. The plan, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), was inaugurated in 2011 by planting cedar, pine, wild almond, juniper, fir, oak and other seedlings, in ten regions around Lebanon. As of 2016, forests covered 13.6% of Lebanon, and other wooded lands represented a further 11%. Since 2011, over 600,000 trees, including cedars and other native species, have been planted throughout the country as part of the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI).
Beirut and Mount Lebanon have been facing a severe garbage crisis. After the closure of the Bourj Hammoud dump in 1997, the al-Naameh dumpsite was opened by the government in 1998. The al-Naameh dumpsite was planned to contain 2 million tons of waste for a limited period of six years at the most. It was designed to be a temporary solution, while the government would have devised a long-term plan. Sixteen years later al-Naameh was still open and exceeded its capacity by 13 million tons. In July 2015 the residents of the area, already protesting in the recent years, forced the closure of the dumpsite. The inefficiency of the government, as well as the corruption inside of the waste management company Sukleen in charge of managing the garbage in Lebanon, have resulted in piles of garbage blocking streets in Mount Lebanon and Beirut.
is a mountain range in Lebanon. It averages above 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in elevation.
In December 2015, the Lebanese government signed an agreement with Chinook Industrial Mining, part owned by Chinook Sciences, to export over 100,000 tons of untreated waste from Beirut and the surrounding area. The waste had accumulated in temporary locations following the government closure of the county's largest land fill site five months earlier. The contract was jointly signed with Howa International which has offices in the Netherlands and Germany. The contract is reported to cost $212 per ton. The waste, which is compacted and infectious, would have to be sorted and was estimated to be enough to fill 2,000 containers. Initial reports that the waste was to be exported to Sierra Leone have been denied by diplomats.
In February 2016, the government withdrew from negotiations after it was revealed that documents relating to the export of the trash to Russia were forgeries. On 19 March 2016, the Cabinet reopened the Naameh landfill for 60 days in line with a plan it passed few days earlier to end the trash crisis. The plan also stipulates the establishment of landfills in Bourj Hammoud and Costa Brava, east and south of Beirut respectively. Sukleen trucks began removing piled garbage from Karantina and heading to Naameh. Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk announced during a chat with activists that over 8,000 tons of garbage had been collected up to that point in only 24 hours as part of the government's trash plan. The plan's execution was ongoing at last report. In 2017, Human Rights Watch found that Lebanon's garbage crisis, and open burning of waste in particular, was posing a health risk to residents and violating the state's obligations under international law.
In September 2018, Lebanon's parliament passed a law that banned open dumping and burning of waste. Despite penalties set in case of violations, Lebanese municipalities have been openly burning the waste, putting the lives of people in danger. In October 2018, Human Rights Watch researchers witnessed the open burning of dumps in al-Qantara and Qabrikha.
On Sunday 13 October 2019 at night, a series of about 100 forest fires according to Lebanese Civil Defense, broke out and spread over large areas of Lebanon's forests. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri confirmed his contact with a number of countries to send assistance via helicopters and firefighting planes, Cyprus, Jordan, Turkey and Greece participated in firefighting. According to press reports on Tuesday (15 October), fire has decreased in different places due to the rains.
Until 1975, Freedom House considered Lebanon to be among only two (together with Israel) politically free countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. The country lost this status with the outbreak of the Civil War, and has not regained it since. Lebanon was rated "Partly Free" in 2013. Even so, Freedom House still ranks Lebanon as among the most democratic nations in the Arab world.
Until 2005, Palestinians were forbidden to work in over 70 jobs because they did not have Lebanese citizenship. After liberalization laws were passed in 2007, the number of banned jobs dropped to around 20. In 2010, Palestinians were granted the same rights to work as other foreigners in the country.
Lebanon's national legislature is the
One of many protests in Beirut
The Parliament is elected for a four-year term by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation.
The executive branch consists of the President, the head of state, and the Prime Minister, the head of government. The parliament elects the president for a non-renewable six-year term by a two-thirds majority. The president appoints the Prime Minister, following consultations with the parliament. The president and the prime minister form a cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism.
In an unprecedented move, the Lebanese parliament has extended its own term twice amid protests, the last being on 5 November 2014, an act which comes in direct contradiction with democracy and article #42 of the Lebanese constitution as no elections have taken place.
Lebanon was without a President between May 2014 and October 2016.
The Lebanese legal system is based on the French system, and is a civil law country, with the exception for matters related to personal status (succession, marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.), which are governed by a separate set of laws designed for each sectarian community. For instance, the Islamic personal status laws are inspired by the Sharia law. For Muslims, these tribunals deal with questions of marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance and wills. For non-Muslims, personal status jurisdiction is split: the law of inheritance and wills falls under national civil jurisdiction, while Christian and Jewish religious courts are competent for marriage, divorce, and custody. Catholics can additionally appeal before the Vatican Rota court.
The most notable set of codified laws is the Code des Obligations et des Contrats promulgated in 1932 and equivalent to the French Civil Code.Capital punishment is still de facto used to sanction certain crimes, but no longer enforced.
The Lebanese court system consists of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. The Constitutional Council rules on constitutionality of laws and electoral frauds. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on matters such as marriage and inheritance.
In 1990 article 95 was amended to provide that the parliament shall take necessary measures to abolish political structure based on religious affiliation, but that until such time only the highest positions in public civil service, including the judiciary, military, security forces, public and mixed institutions, shall be divided equally between Christians and Muslims without regard to the denominational affiliation within each community.
Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002. It is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization.
Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya and Syria), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in over 35 years. Lebanon is a member of the Francophonie countries and hosted the Francophonie Summit in October 2002 as well as the Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009.
The Lebanese Armed Forces' primary missions include defending Lebanon and its citizens against external aggression, maintaining internal stability and security, confronting threats against the country's vital interests, engaging in social development activities, and undertaking relief operations in coordination with public and humanitarian institutions.
Lebanon is a major recipient of foreign military aid. With over $400 million since 2005, it is the second largest per capita recipient of American military aid behind Israel.
Male homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon. Discrimination against LGBT people in Lebanon is widespread. According to 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center, 85% of Lebanese respondents believe that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.
A gender and sexuality conference, held annually in Lebanon, since 2013, was moved abroad in 2019 after a religious group on Facebook called for the organizers’ arrest and the cancellation of the conference for "inciting immorality." General Security Forces shut down the 2018 conference and indefinitely denied non-Lebanese LGBT activists who attended the conference permission to re-enter the country.
Lebanon is divided into nine governorates (muḥāfaẓāt, Arabic: محافظات; singular muḥāfaẓah, Arabic: محافظة) which are further subdivided into twenty-five districts (aqdyah, Arabic: أقضية; singular: qadāʾArabic: قضاء). The districts themselves are also divided into several municipalities, each enclosing a group of cities or villages. The governorates and their respective districts are listed below:
A proportional representation of Lebanon exports, 2019
Lebanon's constitution states that 'the economic system is free and ensures private initiative and the right to private property'. Lebanon's economy follows a laissez-faire model. Most of the economy is dollarized, and the country has no restrictions on the movement of capital across its borders. The Lebanese government's intervention in foreign trade is minimal.
The Lebanese economy went through a significant expansion after the war of 2006, with growth averaging 9.1% between 2007 and 2010. After 2011 the local economy was affected by the Syrian civil war, growing by a yearly average of 1.7% on the 2011–2016 period and by 1.5% in 2017. In 2018, the size of the GDP was estimated to be $54.1 billion.
Lebanon has a very high level of public debt and large external financing needs. The 2010 public debt exceeded 150.7% of GDP, ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, though down from 154.8% in 2009. At the end 2008, finance minister Mohamad Chatah stated that the debt was going to reach $47 billion in that year and would increase to $49 billion if privatization of two telecoms companies did not occur. The Daily Star wrote that exorbitant debt levels have "slowed down the economy and reduced the government's spending on essential development projects".
The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world. Remittances from Lebanese abroad total $8.2 billion and account for one-fifth of the country's economy. Lebanon has the largest proportion of skilled labor among Arab States.
The agricultural sector employs 12% of the total workforce. Agriculture contributed to 5.9% of the country's GDP in 2011. Lebanon's proportion of cultivable land is the highest in the Arab world. Major produce includes apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.
Oil has recently been discovered inland and in the seabed between Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and talks are underway between Cyprus and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources. The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.
Industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses that reassemble and package imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population, and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.
Nearly 65% of the Lebanese workforce attain employment in the services sector. The GDP contribution, accordingly, amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP. However, dependence on the tourism and banking sectors leaves the economy vulnerable to political instability.
Lebanese banks are high on liquidity and reputed for their security. Lebanon was among only seven countries in the world where the value of the stock markets increased in 2008.
On 10 May 2013 the Lebanese minister of energy and water clarified that seismic images of the Lebanese's sea bed are undergoing detailed explanation of their contents and that up till now, approximately 10% have been covered. Preliminary inspection of the results showed, with over 50% probability, that 10% of Lebanon's exclusive economic zone held up to 660 million barrels of oil and up to 30×1012 cu ft of gas.
The Syrian crisis has significantly affected Lebanese economic and financial situation. The demographic pressure imposed by the Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon has led to competition in the labour market. As a direct consequence unemployment has doubled in three years, reaching 20% in 2014. A loss of 14% of wages regarding the salary of less-skilled workers has also been registered. The financial constraints were also felt: the poverty rate increased with 170,000 Lebanese falling under the poverty threshold. In the period between 2012 and 2014, the public spending increased by $1 billion and losses amounted to $7.5 billion. Expenditures related only to the Syrian refugees were estimated by the Central Bank of Lebanon as $4.5 billion every year.
In the 1950s, GDP growth was the second highest in the world. Despite having no oil reserves, Lebanon, as the Middle East's banking center and among its trading center, had a high national income.
Lebanese real GDP 1970-2017
The 1975–1990 civil war heavily damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure,
Port of Beirut
Until July 2006, Lebanon enjoyed considerable stability, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, and increasing numbers of tourists poured into the nation's resorts. The economy witnessed growth, with bank assets reaching over 75 billion US dollars,Market capitalization was also at an all-time high, estimated at $10.9 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2006. The month-long 2006 war severely damaged Lebanon's fragile economy, especially the tourism sector. According to a preliminary report published by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance on 30 August 2006, a major economic decline was expected as a result of the fighting.
Over the course of 2008 Lebanon rebuilt its infrastructure mainly in the real estate and tourism sectors, resulting in a comparatively robust post war economy. Major contributors to the reconstruction of Lebanon include Saudi Arabia (with US$1.5 billion pledged), the European Union (with about $1 billion) and a few other Persian Gulf countries with contributions of up to $800 million.
The tourism industry accounts for about 10% of GDP. Lebanon attracted around 1,333,000 tourists in 2008, thus placing it as 79th out of 191 countries. In 2009, The New York Times ranked Beirut the No. 1 travel destination worldwide due to its nightlife and hospitality. In January 2010, the Ministry of Tourism announced that 1,851,081 tourists had visited Lebanon in 2009, a 39% increase from 2008. In 2009, Lebanon hosted the largest number of tourists to date, eclipsing the previous record set before the Lebanese Civil War. Tourist arrivals reached two million in 2010, but fell by 37% for the first 10 months of 2012, a decline caused by the war in neighbouring Syria.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Japan are the three most popular origin countries of foreign tourists to Lebanon. The recent influx of Japanese tourists has caused the recent rise in popularity of Japanese cuisine in Lebanon.
The United Nations assigned Lebanon an education index of 0.871 in 2008. The index, which is determined by the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio, ranked the country 88th out of the 177 countries participating.
All Lebanese schools are required to follow a prescribed curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Some of the 1400 private schools offer IB programs, and may also add more courses to their curriculum with approval from the Ministry of Education. The first eight years of education are, by law, compulsory.
Lebanon has forty-one nationally accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized.
In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 7.03% of the country's GDP. In 2009, there were 31.29 physicians and 19.71 nurses per 10,000 inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 72.59 years in 2011, or 70.48 years for males and 74.80 years for females.
By the end of the civil war, only one-third of the country's public hospitals were operational, each with an average of 20 beds. By 2009 the country had 28
public hospitals, with a total of 2,550 beds, while the country had approximately 25 public hospitals. At public hospitals, hospitalized uninsured patients pay 5% of the bill, in comparison with 15% in private hospitals, with the Ministry of Public Health reimbursing the remainder. The Ministry of Public Health contracts with 138 private hospitals and 25 public hospitals.
In 2011, there were 236,643 subsidized admissions to hospitals; 164,244 in private hospitals, and 72,399 in public hospitals. More patients visit private hospitals than public hospitals, because the private beds supply is higher.
According to the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon, the top 10 leading causes of reported hospital deaths in 2017 were: malignant neoplasm of bronchus or lung (4.6%), Acute myocardial infarction (3%), pneumonia (2.2%), exposure to unspecified factor, unspecified place (2.1%), acute kidney injury (1.4%), intra-cerebral hemorrhage (1.2%), malignant neoplasm of colon (1.2%), malignant neoplasm of pancreas (1.1%), malignant neoplasm of prostate (1.1%), malignant neoplasm of bladder (0.8%).
Recently, there has been an increase in foodborne illnesses in Lebanon. This has raised public awareness on the importance of food safety, including in the realms of food storage, preservation, and preparation. More restaurants are seeking information and compliance with International Organization for Standardization.
The population of Lebanon was estimated to be 5,592,631 in 2021, with the number of Lebanese nationals estimated to be 4,680,212 (July 2018 est.); however, no official census has been conducted since 1932 due to the sensitive confessional political balance between Lebanon's various religious groups. Identifying all Lebanese as ethnically Arab is a widely employed example of panethnicity since in reality, the Lebanese "are descended from many different peoples who are either indigenous, or have occupied, invaded, or settled this corner of the world", making Lebanon, "a mosaic of closely interrelated cultures".
The fertility rate fell from 5.00 in 1971 to 1.75 in 2004. Fertility rates vary considerably among the different religious groups: in 2004, it was 2.10 for Shiites, 1.76 for Sunnis and 1.61 for Maronites.
Lebanon has witnessed a series of migration waves: over 1,800,000 people emigrated from the country in the 1975–2011 period. Millions of people of Lebanese descent are spread throughout the world, especially in Latin America.Brazil and Argentina have large expatriate population.(See Lebanese people). Large numbers of Lebanese migrated to West Africa, particularly to the Ivory Coast (home to over 100,000 Lebanese) and Senegal (roughly 30,000 Lebanese). Australia is home to over 270,000 Lebanese (1999 est.). In Canada, there is also a large Lebanese diaspora of approximately 250,000–700,000 people having Lebanese descent. (see Lebanese Canadians). United States also has one the largest Lebanese
population, at around 2,000,000. Another region with a significant diaspora are Gulf Countries, where the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar (around 25,000 people), Saudi Arabia and UAE act as host countries to many Lebanese. 269,000 Lebanese citizens currently reside in Saudi Arabia. Around a third of the Lebanese workforce, about 350,000, live in Gulf countries according to some sources. Over 50% of the Lebanese diaspora are Christian, partly due to the large period of Christian emigration before 1943.
In the last three decades, lengthy and destructive armed conflicts have ravaged the country. The majority of Lebanese have been affected by armed conflict; those with direct personal experience include 75% of the population, and most others report suffering a range of hardships. In total, almost the entire population (96%) has been affected in
some way – either personally or because of the wider consequences of armed conflict.
It is believed that there has been a decline in the ratio of Christians to Muslims over the past 60 years, due to higher emigration rates of Christians, and a higher birth rate in the Muslim population. When the last census was held in 1932, Christians made up 53% of Lebanon's population. In 1956, it was estimated that the population was 54% Christian and 44% Muslim.
The Sunni residents primarily live in Tripoli, Western Beirut, the Southern coast of Lebanon, and Northern Lebanon. The Shi'a residents primarily live in Southern Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and Southern Lebanon. The Maronite Catholic residents primarily live in Eastern Beirut and the mountains of Lebanon. They are the largest Christian community in Lebanon. The Greek Orthodox, the second largest Christian community in Lebanon, primarily live in Koura, Beirut, Rachaya, Matn, Aley, Akkar, in the countryside around Tripoli, Hasbaya and Marjeyoun. They are a minority of 10% in Zahle. The Greek Catholics live mainly in Beirut, on the eastern slopes of the Lebanon mountains and in Zahle which is predominantly Greek Catholic.
In the Christian village of Hadat, there has been a municipal ban on Muslims from buying or renting property. It has been claimed that it is due to an underlying fear of mixing with one another's salvation since for three decades, the village of Hadat has been predominantly Christian.
There is also significant presence of French, and of English.
Almost 40% of Lebanese are considered francophone, and another 15% "partial francophone", and 70% of Lebanon's secondary schools use French as a second language of instruction. By comparison, English is used as a secondary language in 30% of Lebanon's secondary schools. The use of French is a legacy of France's historic ties to the region, including its League of Nations mandate over Lebanon following World War I; as of 2005[update], some 20% of the population used French on a daily basis. The use of Arabic by Lebanon's educated youth is declining, as they usually prefer to speak in French and, to a lesser extent, English, which are seen as more fashionable.
English is increasingly used in science and business interactions.Lebanese citizens of Armenian, Greek, or Assyrian descent often speak their ancestral languages with varying degrees of fluency. As of 2009[update], there were around 150,000 Armenians in Lebanon, or around 5% of the population.
The culture of Lebanon reflects the legacy of various civilizations spanning thousands of years. Originally home to the Canaanite-Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Fatimids, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon's diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country's festivals, musical styles and literature as well as cuisine. Despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they "share an almost common culture".Lebanese Arabic is universally spoken while food, music, and literature are deep-rooted "in wider Mediterranean and Arab Levantine norms".
While traditional folk music remains popular in Lebanon, modern music reconciling Western and traditional Arabic styles, pop, and fusion are rapidly advancing in popularity. Lebanese artists like Fairuz, Majida El Roumi, Wadih El Safi, Sabah, Julia Boutros or Najwa Karam are widely known and appreciated in Lebanon and in the Arab world. Radio stations feature a variety of music, including traditional Lebanese, classical Arabic, Armenian and modern French, English, American, and Latin tunes.
The cinema of Lebanon, according to film critic and historian, Roy Armes, was the only cinema in the Arabic-speaking region, besides the dominant Egyptian cinema, that could amount to a national cinema. Cinema in Lebanon has been in existence since the 1920s, and the country has produced over 500 films with many films including Egyptian filmmakers and film stars. The media of Lebanon is not only a regional center of production but also the most liberal and free in the Arab world. According to Press freedom's Reporters Without Borders, "the media have more freedom in Lebanon than in any other Arab country". Despite its small population and geographic size, Lebanon plays an influential role in the production of information in the Arab world and is "at the core of a regional media network with global implications".
Lebanese cuisine is similar to those of many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. The Lebanese national dishes are the kibbe, a meat pie made from finely minced lamb and burghul (cracked wheat), and the tabbouleh, a salad made from parsley, tomatoes, and burghul wheat. Lebanese restaurant meals begin with a wide array of mezze - small savoury dishes, such as dips, salads, and pastries. The mezze are typically followed by a selection of grilled meat or fish. In general, meals are finished with Arabic coffee and fresh fruit, though sometimes a selection of traditional sweets will be offered as well.
Water sports have also shown to be very active in the past years, in Lebanon. Since 2012 and with the emergence of the Lebanon Water Festival NGO, more emphasis has been placed on those sports, and Lebanon has been pushed forward as a water sport destination internationally. They host different contests and water show sports that encourage their fans to participate and win big.
In 1960, a science club from a university in Beirut started a Lebanese space program called "the Lebanese Rocket Society". They achieved great success until 1966 where the program was stopped because of both war and external pressure.
^Note: Many Lebanese Christians do not identify as "Arab" but rather as descendants of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called "Phoenician".
^Note: Most Druze do not identify as Muslim, but Druze are classified by the Lebanese government as one of the five Muslim communities in Lebanon (Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, and Ismaili).
^Because the relative sizes of different religions and religious sects remains a sensitive issue, a national census has not been conducted since 1932. There are 18 state-recognized religious sects – four Muslim, 12 Christian, one Druze, and one Jewish
^McGowen, Afaf Sabeh (1989). "Historical Setting". In Collelo, Thomas (ed.). Lebanon: A Country Study. Area Handbook Series (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: The Division. OCLC18907889. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
^ abDumper, Michael; Stanley, Bruce E.; Abu-Lughod, Janet L. (2006). Cities of the Middle East and North Africa. ABC-CLIO. p. 104. ISBN978-1-57607-919-5. Archaeological excavations at Byblos indicate that the site has been continually inhabited since at least 5000 B.C.
^Deeb, Marius (2013). Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah: The Unholy Alliance and Its War on Lebanon. Hoover Press. ISBN9780817916664. the Maronites and the Druze, who founded Lebanon in the early eighteenth century.
^Tetz Rooke (2013). "Writing the Boundary: "Khitat al-Shăm" by Muhammad Kurd ʹAli". In Hiroyuki (ed.). Concept Of Territory In Islamic Thought. Routledge. p. 178. ISBN978-1-136-18453-6. His [(Thongchai Winichakul’s)] study shows that the modern map in some cases predicted the nation instead of just recording it; rather than describing existing borders it created the reality it was assumed to depict. The power of the map over the mind was great:"[H]ow could a nation resist being found if a nineteenth-century map had predicted it?" In the Middle East, Lebanon seems to offer a corresponding example. When the idea of a Greater Lebanon in 1908 was put forward in a book by Bulus Nujaym, a Lebanese Maronite writing under the pseudonym of M. Jouplain, he suggested that the natural boundaries of Lebanon were exactly the same as drawn in the 1861 and 1863 staff maps of the French military expedition to Syria, maps that added territories on the northern, eastern and southern borders, plus the city of Beirut, to the Mutasarrifiyya of Mount Lebanon. In this case, too, the prior existence of a European military map seems to have created a fact on the ground.
^Hazran, Yusri (2013). The Druze Community and the Lebanese State: Between Confrontation and Reconciliation. Routledge. p. 32. ISBN9781317931737. the Druze had been able to live in harmony with the Christian
^Artzi, Pinḥas (1984). Confrontation and Coexistence. Bar-Ilan University Press. p. 166. ISBN9789652260499. .. Europeans who visited the area during this period related that the Druze "love the Christians more than the other believers," and that they "hate the Turks, the Muslims and the Arabs [Bedouin] with an intense hatred.
^CHURCHILL (1862). The Druzes and the Maronites. Montserrat Abbey Library. p. 25. ..the Druzes and Christians lived together in the most perfect harmony and good-will..
^Hobby (1985). Near East/South Asia Report. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. p. 53. the Druzes and the Christians in the Shuf Mountains in the past lived in complete harmony..
^"Lebanon". Library of Congress Country Studies. December 1987. Archived from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
^Salwa C. Nassar Foundation (1969). Cultural resources in Lebanon. Beirut: Librarie du Liban. p. 74.
^Winslow, Charles (1996). Lebanon: war and politics in a fragmented society. Routledge. p. 291. ISBN978-0-415-14403-2.
^Deeb, Marius (2013). Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah: The Unholy Alliance and Its War on Lebanon. Hoover Press. ISBN9780817916664. the Maronites and the Druze, who founded Lebanon in the early eighteenth century.
^Ross, Oakland (9 October 2007). "Language of murder makes itself understood". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2009. Like a wound that just won't heal, a large expanse patch of fresh asphalt still mottles the grey surface of Rue Minet el-Hosn, where the street veers west around St. George Bay. The patch marks the exact spot where a massive truck bomb exploded 14 February 2005, killing prime minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others and gouging a deep crater in the road.
^Dralonge, Richard N. (2008). Economics and Geopolitics of the Middle East. New York: Nova Science Publishers. p. 150. ISBN978-1-60456-076-3. Lebanon, with a population of 3.8 million, has the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East, comprising 17 recognized religious sects.
^ abcd"Lebanon". International Religious Freedom Report 2010. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
^Pintak, Lawrence (2019). America & Islam: Soundbites, Suicide Bombs and the Road to Donald Trump. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 86. ISBN9781788315593.
^Jonas, Margaret (2011). The Templar Spirit: The Esoteric Inspiration, Rituals and Beliefs of the Knights Templar. Temple Lodge Publishing. p. 83. ISBN9781906999254. [Druze] often they are not regarded as being Muslim at all, nor do all the Druze consider themselves as Muslim
^J. Stewart, Dona (2008). The Middle East Today: Political, Geographical and Cultural Perspectives. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN9781135980795. Most Druze do not consider themselves Muslim. Historically they faced much persecution and keep their religious beliefs secrets.
^Yazbeck Haddad, Yvonne (2014). The Oxford Handbook of American Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 142. ISBN9780199862634. While they appear parallel to those of normative Islam, in the Druze religion they are different in meaning and interpretation. The religion is consider distinct from the Ismaili as well as from other Muslims belief and practice... Most Druze consider themselves fully assimilated in American society and do not necessarily identify as Muslims..
^De McLaurin, Ronald (1979). The Political Role of Minority Groups in the Middle East. Michigan University Press. p. 114. ISBN9780030525964. Theologically, one would have to conclude that the Druze are not Muslims. They do not accept the five pillars of Islam. In place of these principles the Druze have instituted the seven precepts noted above..
^"WVS Database". World Values Survey. Institute for Comparative Survey Research. March 2015. Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
^ abcdMcGowen, Afaf Sabeh (1989). "Glossary". In Collelo, Thomas (ed.). Lebanon: A Country Study. Area Handbook Series (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: The Division. OCLC18907889. Retrieved 30 September 2010.