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Lebanon Country Information

 
Lebanon
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 the region of Lebanon in 1920. France 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 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. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and the passage in October 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 20 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 Saad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son. Lebanon continues to be plagued by violence - Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in July 2006 leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel. The LAF in May-September 2007 battled Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp; and the country has witnessed a string of politically motivated assassinations since the death of Rafiq HARIRI. 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 Army Commander Michel SULAYMAN in May 2008 and the formation of a new cabinet in July 2008.
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)
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
Population:
3,971,941 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26% (male 526,994/female 505,894)
15-64 years: 66.8% (male 1,275,021/female 1,380,131)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 128,002/female 155,899) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 28.8 years
male: 27.6 years
female: 30 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.154% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
17.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
6.06 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
NA (2008 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: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 22.59 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.08 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.41 years
male: 70.91 years
female: 76.04 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.87 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,800 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer 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.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
2.7% of GDP (2006)
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 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:
8 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Aakar, Baalbek-Hermel, Beqaa, Beyrouth, 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 Michel SULAYMAN (as of 25 May 2008)
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 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
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 in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by group - NA; seats by group - Future Movement Bloc 36; Democratic Gathering 15; Development and Resistance Bloc 15; Free Patriotic Movement 15; Loyalty to the Resistance 14; Qornet Shehwan 6; Lebanese Forces 5; Popular Bloc 4; Tripoli Independent Bloc 3; Kataeb Reform Movement 2; Syrian National Socialist Party 2; Tashnaq 2; Syrian Ba'th Party 1; Democratic Left 1; Democratic Renewal Movement 1; Kataeb Party 1; Nasserite Popular Movement 1; independent 4
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 Gathering Bloc [Walid JUNBLATT, leader of Progressive Socialist Party]; Democratic Left [Ilyas ATALLAH]; Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib LAHUD]; Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad 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 Party [Hassan NASRALLAH]); Nasserite Popular Movement [Ussama SAAD]; Popular Bloc [Elias SKAFF]; Syrian Ba'th Party [Sayez SHUKR]; Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali QANSO]
Independent: Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]; Tashnaq
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Hizballah military wing
other: Palestinain militias; Maronite Christians; Sunnis and their militias; Shi'as and their militias
International organization participation:
ABEDA, ACCT, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Michele J. SISON
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
Economy Lebanon
Economy - overview:
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 the 1990s began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and privatizing 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 a new government was formed in July 2008.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$40.44 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$24.64 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$10,300 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5.2%
industry: 19.5%
services: 75.4% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
1.5 million
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
20% (2006 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):
4.2% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
22% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $6.178 billion
expenditures: $8.35 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:
186.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industries:
banking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
Industrial production growth rate:
NA%
Electricity - production:
9.183 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 97.2%
hydro: 2.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
10.58 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
455 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
106,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
102,300 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:
-$2.046 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:
$4.077 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
authentic jewelry, inorganic chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners:
Syria 26.1%, UAE 12.2%, Saudi Arabia 5.8%, Switzerland 5.5% (2007)
Imports:
$11.93 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery
Imports - partners:
Syria 12.3%, Italy 8.6%, France 8.4%, US 7%, China 6%, Germany 5.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.9% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
of the $7.6 billion in grants and loans pledged to Lebanon at the Paris III conference in January 2007, Beirut as of mid-December 2007 had signed agreements for $3 billion, including $1 billion in project financing, $750 million in direct budget support, $750 million in private sector credit, and $285 million in in-kind aid; about $500 million of the $1.7 billion pledged for direct budget support has been disbursed to Lebanon; donors in August 2006 also pledged nearly $1.8 billion in aid to help Lebanon recover from the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war; during the conflict, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait provided $1.5 billion in concessional loans to the Lebanese central bank to maintain confidence in the Lebanese currency. (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$20.55 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$31.6 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$NA
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$8.279 billion (2006)
Currency (code):
Lebanese pound (LBP)
Currency code:
LBP
Exchange rates:
Lebanese pounds per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2007), 1,507.5 (2006), 1,507.5 (2005), 1,507.5 (2004), 1,507.5 (2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Lebanon
Telephones - main lines in use:
681,400 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.26 million (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete
domestic: two wireless networks provide good service; political instability hampers privatization and deployment of new technologies; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership approaching 50 per 100 persons
international: country code - 961; submarine cable link to Cyprus; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean); coaxial cable to Syria
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:
5,635 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
22 (2000)
Internet users:
950,000 (2006)
Transportation Lebanon
Airports:
7 (2007)
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 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)
Pipelines:
gas 43 km (2007)
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: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 33 ships (1000 GRT or over) 126,744 GRT/135,701 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 13, carrier 12, passenger/cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 2
foreign-owned: 4 (Greece 2, Syria 2)
registered in other countries: 57 (Barbados 1, Cambodia 7, Comoros 4, Cyprus 1, Dominica 1, Egypt 1, Georgia 4, Honduras 1, Italy 1, Liberia 2, Malta 12, Mongolia 2, North Korea 1, Panama 5, St Vincent and the Grenadines 8, Syria 4, unknown 2) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Beirut, Tripoli
Military Lebanon
Military branches:
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army (includes Navy), Air Force (2008)
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: 1,106,879
females age 16-49: 1,122,595 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 934,828
females age 16-49: 948,327 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 32,815
female: 31,610 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
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

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008


 

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