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Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French demarcated the region of Lebanon in 1920 and granted this area independence in 1943. Since independence the country has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on its position as a regional center for finance and trade. The country's 1975-90 civil war that resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities, was followed by years of social and political instability. Sectarianism is a key element of Lebanese political life. Neighboring Syria has historically influenced Lebanon's foreign policy and internal policies, and its military occupied Lebanon from 1976 until 2005. The Lebanon-based Hizballah militia and Israel continued attacks and counterattacks against each other after Syria's withdrawal, and fought a brief war in 2006. Lebanon's borders with Syria and Israel remain unresolved.



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

Geographic coordinates

33.50° N, 35.50° E

Area 170/257

total: 10,400 sq km

land: 10,230 sq km

water: 170 sq km

Area - comparative

about one-third the size of Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 484 km

border countries (2): Israel 81 km, Syria 403 km


225 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm


Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; the Lebanon Mountains experience heavy winter snows


narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

highest point: Qornet es Saouda 3,088 m

Natural resources

limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 63.3%

arable land 11.9%; permanent crops 12.3%; permanent pasture 39.1%

forest: 13.4%

other: 23.3% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

1,040 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

4.5 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 1.31 cu km/yr (29%/11%/60%)

per capita: 316.8 cu m/yr (2005)

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

smallest country in continental Asia; 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 and Society


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


Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian


Muslim 54% (27% Sunni, 27% Shia), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 6.5% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons

note: 18 religious sects recognized (2012 est.)

Population 109/238

6,184,701 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.08% (male 793,837/female 757,120)

15-24 years: 17.04% (male 539,232/female 514,394)

25-54 years: 44.13% (male 1,378,852/female 1,350,506)

55-64 years: 7.18% (male 205,933/female 237,849)

65 years and over: 6.58% (male 179,983/female 226,995) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.3%

youth dependency ratio: 35.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 12%

potential support ratio: 8.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 29.4 years

male: 28.8 years

female: 30 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 128/233

0.86% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 133/224

14.59 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 191/225

4.88 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 150/222

-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 87.8% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.18% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BEIRUT (capital) 2.226 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 130/184

15 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 155/224

total: 7.76 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 8.18 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 70/224

total population: 77.4 years

male: 76.18 years

female: 78.69 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 169/224

1.73 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 73/191

7.2% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

3.2 physicians/1,000 population (2011)

Hospital bed density

3.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


urban: 99% of population

rural: 99% of population

total: 99% of population


urban: 1% of population

rural: 1% of population

total: 1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 80.7% of population

rural: 80.7% of population

total: 80.7% of population


urban: 19.3% of population

rural: 19.3% of population

total: 19.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.06% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

1,800 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

less than 100 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 40/191

30.8% (2014)

Education expenditures 162/173

2.6% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 14 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 71/134

total: 22.1%

male: 22.3%

female: 21.5% (2007 est.)


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

etymology: derives from the Semitic root "lbn" meaning "white" and refers to snow-capped Mount Lebanon

Government type



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

6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord (North Lebanon), Liban-Sud (South Lebanon), Mont-Liban (Mount Lebanon), Nabatiye

note: two new governorates - Aakkar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented


22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday

Independence Day, 22 November (1943)


drafted 15 May 1926, adopted 23 May 1926; amended several times, last in 2004 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law based on the French civil code, Ottoman legal tradition, and religious laws covering personal status, marriage, divorce, and other family relations of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Lebanon

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown


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

Executive branch

chief of state: President (vacant); note - President Michel SULAYMAN's term expired on 25 May 2014; the prime minister and his cabinet are temporarily assuming the duties of the president; as of December 2015, the National Assembly had failed to elect a president

head of government: Prime Minister Tamam SALAM (since 6 April 2013); Deputy Prime Minister Samir MOQBIL (since 7 July 2011)

cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and National Assembly

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the National Assembly for a 6-year term (eligible for non-consecutive terms); first round of election held on 23 April 2014 (next to be held in 2020); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly

election results: NA; note - the April 2014 parliamentary vote failed to meet the required two-thirds majority vote threshold; subsequent voting from April 2014 through February 2016 also failed to meet a quorum or was postponed

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab in Arabic or Assemblee Nationale in French (128 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by majority vote; members serve 4-year terms); note - seats are apportioned among the Christian and Muslim denominations

note: Lebanon’s Constitution states the National Assembly cannot conduct regular business until it elects a president when the position is vacant

elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next delayed due to a failure to elect a new president)

election results: percent of vote by coalition - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by coalition - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57; seats by coalition following 16 July 2012 byelection held to fill one seat - March 14 Coalition 72, March 8 Coalition 56

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Cassation or Supreme Court (organized into 4 divisions, each with a presiding judge and 2 associate judges); Constitutional Council (consists of 10 members)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by Supreme Judicial Council, headed by the chief justice, and includes other judicial officials; judge tenure NA; Constitutional Council members appointed - 5 by the Council of Ministers and 5 by parliament; members serve 5-year terms

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; specialized tribunals, religious courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

14 March Coalition:

Democratic Left Movement or DLM [Elias ATALLAH]

Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad al-HARIRI]

Kata'ib Party [Sami GEMAYEL]

Lebanese Forces [Samir JA'JA]

Marada Movement [Sulayman FRANJIEH]

Social Democratic Hunchakian Party [Hagop DIKRANIAN]

8 March Coalition:

Amal Movement [Nabih BERRI]

Free Patriotic Movement [Gibran BASSIL]

Lebanese Democratic Party [Emir Talal ARSLAN]

Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc [Mohammad RA'AD] (includes Hizballah [Hassan NASRALLAH])

Marada Movement [Sulayman FRANJIEH]

Syrian Ba'th Party [Abdel Mouin GHAZI]

Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali QANSO]

Independent: Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]

Progressive Socialist Party or PSP [Walid JUNBLATT]

Tashnag or ARF [Hagop DHATCHERIAN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Maronite Church [Patriarch Bishara al-Ra'i]

note: most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps

International organization participation


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; the red bands symbolize blood shed for liberation, the white band denotes peace, the snow of the mountains, and purity; the green cedar tree is the symbol of Lebanon and represents eternity, steadiness, happiness, and prosperity

National symbol(s)

cedar tree; national colors: red, white, green

National anthem

name: "Kulluna lil-watan" (All Of Us, For Our Country!)

lyrics/music: Rachid NAKHLE/Wadih SABRA

note: adopted 1927; chosen following a nationwide competition


Economy - overview

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.

The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007, following the July 2006 war.

Spillover from the Syrian conflict, including the influx of more than 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees, has increased internal tension and slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-2015, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Syrian refugees have increased the labor supply, but pushed more Lebanese into unemployment. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the fourth highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. Weak economic growth limits tax revenues, while the largest government expenditures remain debt servicing, salaries for government workers, and transfers to the electricity sector. These limitations constrain other government spending and limit the government’s ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 86/230

$83.86 billion (2015 est.)

$82.22 billion (2014 est.)

$80.61 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$54.4 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 144/225

2% (2015 est.)

2% (2014 est.)

3% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 91/230

$18,600 (2015 est.)

$18,200 (2014 est.)

$17,900 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 174/179

-0.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

-2% of GDP (2014 est.)

-2.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 88%

government consumption: 12.4%

investment in fixed capital: 26.1%

investment in inventories: 0.5%

exports of goods and services: 20.4%

imports of goods and services: -47.4%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5.6%

industry: 24.7%

services: 69.7% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


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

Industrial production growth rate 127/202

1.7% (2015 est.)

Labor force 129/233

1.628 million

note: does not include as many as 1 million foreign workers, nor refugees (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%

industry: NA%

services: NA%

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line

28.6% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $10.93 billion

expenditures: $15.18 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 156/219

20.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 197/220

-7.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 4/176

138.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

135.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: data cover central government debt, and exclude debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1/226

-3.5% (2015 est.)

1.1% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 100/156

3.5% (31 December 2010)

10% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 120/184

7.1% (31 December 2015 est.)

7.27% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 92/192

$6.085 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$5.506 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 66/193

$52.94 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$48.69 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 54/191

$96.44 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$89.13 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 72/121

$11.22 billion (30 December 2014 est.)

$10.54 billion (30 December 2013)

$10.42 billion (28 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance 182/197

-$11.43 billion (2015 est.)

-$12.45 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 124/224

$3.475 billion (2015 est.)

$3.787 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

jewelry, base metals, chemicals, consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper

Exports - partners

Saudi Arabia 10.8%, UAE 9.7%, Syria 8.7%, Iraq 7.6%, South Africa 7%, Switzerland 4% (2014)

Imports 80/223

$16.27 billion (2015 est.)

$18.99 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals

Imports - partners

China 11.8%, Italy 7.7%, US 6.8%, France 6.2%, Germany 5.4%, Russia 4.5%, Greece 4.1% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 40/170

$49.61 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$50.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 73/206

$31.59 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$32.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

Exchange rates

Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -

1,507.5 (2015 est.)

1,507.5 (2014 est.)

1,507.5 (2013 est.)

1,507.5 (2012 est.)

1,507.5 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 87/220

13.99 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 82/219

12.94 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 160/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 84/219

323 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 102/214

2.26 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 76/214

90.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 126/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 117/214

9.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 193/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 156/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 150/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 213/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 155/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 200/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 73/212

125,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 194/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 45/213

126,600 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 210/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 163/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 132/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 91/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 158/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 88/212

16.44 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 77/219

total subscriptions: 970,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 125/217

total: 4.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 75 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete

domestic: two mobile-cellular networks provide good service; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership roughly 100 per 100 persons

international: country code - 961; submarine cable links to Cyprus, Egypt, and Syria; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean); coaxial cable to Syria (2011)

Broadcast media

7 TV stations, 1 of which is state owned; more than 30 radio stations, 1 of which is state owned; satellite and cable TV services available; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible through partner stations (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 20, FM 30 (plus about a dozen unlicensed stations operating), shortwave 4 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

12 (2009)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 91/232

64,926 (2012)

Internet users 76/217

total: 4 million

percent of population: 67.2% (2014 est.)


Airports 161/236

8 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 5

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 1 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 88 km (2013)

Railways 117/136

total: 401 km

standard gauge: 319 km 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050-m gauge

note: rail system unusable due to damage sustained from fighting in the 1980s and in 2006 (2008)

Roadways 146/223

total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)

Merchant marine 85/156

total: 29

by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 7, carrier 17, vehicle carrier 1

foreign-owned: 2 (Syria 2)

registered in other countries: 34 (Barbados 2, Cambodia 5, Comoros 2, Egypt 1, Georgia 1, Honduras 2, Liberia 1, Malta 6, Moldova 1, Panama 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Sierra Leone 2, Togo 6, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Beirut, Tripoli

container port(s) (TEUs): Beirut (1,034,249)

Military and Security

Military branches

Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Lebanese Army ((Al Jaysh al Lubnani) includes Lebanese Navy (Al Quwwat al Bahiriyya al Lubnaniya), Lebanese Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Lubnaniya)) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

17-30 years of age for voluntary military service; 18-24 years of age for officer candidates; no conscription (2013)

Military expenditures 11/132

4.04% of GDP (2012)

4.06% of GDP (2011)

4.04% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

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 has been in place since 1978

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 449,957 (Palestinian refugees); 5,986 (Iraq) (2014); 1,069,111 (Syria) (2015)

IDPs: 19,719 (2007 Lebanese security forces' destruction of Palestinian refugee camp) (2014)

stateless persons: undetermined (2014); note - tens of thousands of persons are stateless in Lebanon, including many Palestinian refugees and their descendants, Syrian Kurds denaturalized in Syria in 1962, children born to Lebanese women married to foreign or stateless men; most babies born to Syrian refugees, and Lebanese children whose births are unregistered

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