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 Lebanon [Country Flag of Lebanon]
Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Lebanon]

Lebanon

Introduction

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Current issues: Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since the end of the devastating 16-year civil war, which began in 1975. 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 say in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the civil war, the Lebanese have formed five cabinets and conducted two legislative elections. Most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has seized vast quantities of weapons used by the militias during the war and extended central government authority over about one-half of the country. Hizballah, the radical Shi'a party, retains most of its weapons. Foreign forces still occupy areas of Lebanon. Israel maintains troops in southern Lebanon and continues to support a proxy militia, the Army of South Lebanon (ASL), along a narrow stretch of territory contiguous to its border. The ASL's enclave encompasses this self-declared security zone and about 20 kilometers north to the strategic town of Jazzin. Syria maintains about 25,000 troops in Lebanon. These troops are based mainly in Beirut, North Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. Syria's deployment was legitimized by the Arab League during Lebanon's civil war and in the Ta'if accord. Citing the continued weakness of the LAF, Beirut's requests, and failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if accord, Damascus has so far refused to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

Geography

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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; Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal al Makmal 3,087 m

Natural resources: limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region

Land use:
arable land: 21%
permanent crops: 9%
permanent pastures: 1%
forests and woodland: 8%
other: 61% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 860 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms

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

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: Nahr al Litani 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

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Population: 3,505,794 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (male 532,688; female 512,979)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,060,903; female 1,174,236)
65 years and over: 6% (male 102,946; female 122,042) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.62% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 22.66 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.51 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 31.64 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.64 years
male: 68.08 years
female: 73.33 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.28 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Lebanese

Ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%

Religions: Islam 70% (5 legally recognized Islamic groups—Alawite or Nusayri, Druze, Isma'ilite, Shi'a, Sunni), Christian 30% (11 legally recognized Christian groups—4 Orthodox Christian, 6 Catholic, 1 Protestant), Judaism NEGL%

Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian widely understood

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 90.8%
female: 82.2% (1997 est.)

Government

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

Data code: LE

Government type: republic

National capital: Beirut

Administrative divisions: 5 governorates (muhafazat, singular—muhafazah); Al Biqa', Al Janub, Ash Shamal, Bayrut, Jabal Lubnan

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

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 Ilyas HARAWI (since 24 November 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Rafiq al-HARIRI (since 22 October 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the members of the National Assembly; the current Cabinet was formed in 1996
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term; election last held 24 November 1989 (next to be held NA 1998); note—in 1995, the National Assembly amended the constitution to extend the president's term by three years; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly; by custom, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the legislature is a Shi'a Muslim
election results: Ilyas HARAWI elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - NA

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 the summer of 1996 (next to be held NA 2000)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—NA (one-half Christian and one-half Muslim)

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: political party activity is organized along largely sectarian lines; numerous political groupings exist, consisting of individual political figures and followers motivated by religious, clan, and economic considerations

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT, AFESD, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OIC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamad Baha CHATAH
chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6300
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6324
consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador-designate David SATTERFIELD
embassy: Antelias, Beirut
mailing address: P. O. Box 70-840, Beirut; PSC 815, Box 2, FPO AE 09836-0002
telephone: [961] (1) 402200, 403300, 426183, 417774, 889926
FAX: [961] (1) 407112

Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green and brown cedar tree centered in the white band

Economy

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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. Peace has enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon's economy has made impressive gains since Prime Minister HARIRI launched his $18 billion "Horizon 2000" reconstruction program in 1993. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994 and 7% in 1995 before Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 stunted economic activity. During 1992-97, annual inflation fell from more than 170% to 9%, and foreign exchange reserves jumped to more than $4 billion from $1.4 billion. Burgeoning capital inflows have generated foreign payments surpluses, and the Lebanese pound has remained relatively stable. Progress also has been made in rebuilding Lebanon's war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. Solidere, a $2-billion firm, is managing the reconstruction of Beirut's central business district; the stock market reopened in January 1996; and international banks and insurance companies are returning. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has had to fund reconstruction by tapping foreign exchange reserves and boosting borrowing. The stalled peace process and ongoing violence in southern Lebanon could lead to wider hostilities that would disrupt vital capital inflows. Furthermore, the gap between rich and poor has widened since HARIRI took office, resulting in grassroots dissatisfaction over the skewed distribution of the reconstruction's benefits and leading the government to shift its focus from rebuilding infrastructure to improving living conditions.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$15.2 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$4,400 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 23%
services: 73% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 9% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1 million plus as many as 1 million foreign workers (1996 est.)
by occupation: services 62%, industry 31%, agriculture 7% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate: 18% (1997 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $2.4 billion
expenditures: $5.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.)

Industries: banking; food processing; jewelry; cement; textiles; mineral and chemical products; wood and furniture products; oil refining; metal fabricating

Industrial production growth rate: 25% (1993 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 1.35 million kW (1997)

Electricity—production: 5 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,380 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: citrus, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco, hemp (hashish); sheep, goats

Exports:
total value: $1.018 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: paper and paper products 26%, food stuffs 16%, textiles and textile products 10%, jewelry 8%, metals and metal products 8%, electrical equipment and products 8%, chemical products 6%, transport vehicles 4% (1995)
partners: UAE 23%, Saudi Arabia 14%, Kuwait 8%, Syria 7%, Jordan 5%, France 5%, Italy 4%, US 3% (1996)

Imports:
total value: $7.559 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 28%, foodstuffs 20%, consumer goods 19%, chemicals 9%, textiles 5%, metals 5%, fuels 3% (1995)
partners: Italy 12%, US 11%, Germany 9%, France 8%, Syria 4%, UK 4%, Japan 4% (1996)

Debt—external: $2.3 billion (1997 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: aid pledges of $3.5 billion for 1997-2001

Currency: 1 Lebanese pound (£L) = 100 piasters

Exchange rates: Lebanese pounds (£L) per US$1—1,526.1 (January 1998), 1,539.5 (1997), 1,571.4 (1996), 1,621.4 (1995), 1,680.1 (1994), 1,741.4 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

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Telephones: 150,000 (1990 est.)

Telephone system: telecommunications system severely damaged by civil war; rebuilding well underway
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay and cable
international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean) (erratic operations); coaxial cable to Syria; microwave radio relay to Syria but inoperable beyond Syria to Jordan; 3 submarine coaxial cables

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 3, shortwave 1
note: government is licensing a limited number of the more than 100 AM and FM stations operated sporadically by various factions that sprang up during the civil war

Radios: 2.37 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 13
note: government is licensing a limited number of TV stations operated by various factions

Televisions: 1.1 million (1993 est.)

Transportation

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Railways:
total: 222 km
standard gauge: 222 km 1.435-m (from Beirut to the Syrian border)

Highways:
total: 6,350 km
paved: 6,032 km
unpaved: 318 km (1996 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 72 km (none in operation)

Ports and harbors: Al Batrun, Al Mina', An Naqurah, Antilyas, Az Zahrani, Beirut, Jubayl, Juniyah, Shikka, Sidon, Tripoli, Tyre

Merchant marine:
total: 62 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 258,383 GRT/392,087 DWT
ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 40, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, combination ore/oil 1, container 2, livestock carrier 5, oil tanker 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 3 (1997 est.)

Airports: 9 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 7
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Military

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Military branches: Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF; includes Army, Navy, and Air Force)

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 901,603 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 558,774 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $445 million (1997)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 5% (1997)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Israeli troops in southern Lebanon since June 1982; Syrian troops in northern, central, and eastern Lebanon since October 1976

Illicit drugs: small illicit producer of hashish and heroin; hashish production is shipped to Western Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America; some cocaine processing and trafficking; a Lebanese/Syrian eradication campaign started in the early 1990s has practically eliminated the opium and cannabis crops