country profile - LEBANON
Background: 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.
geography  
Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
Area: total: 10,400 sq km
land: 10,230 sq km
water: 170 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 484 km
border countries (2): Israel 81 km, Syria 403 km
Coastline: 225 km
Climate: Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows
Natural resources: limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land
people  
Population: 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.)
Median age: total: 29.4 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 30 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.86% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 14.59 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 4.88 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate -1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
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.)
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 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.)
Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 96%
female: 91.8% (2015 est.)
government  
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: 6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye
note: two new governorates - Aakkar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented
Independence: 22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
National holiday: Independence Day, 22 November (1943)
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
Suffrage: 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 mid-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 October 2015 also failed to meet a quorum or was postponed
Legislative branch: 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
elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next delayed until 16 November 2014)
election results: percent of vote by group - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by group - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57; seats by party 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 [Ilyas ATALLAH]
Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib LAHUD]
Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad al-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 [Hassan NASRALLAH])
Nasserite Popular Movement [Usama SAAD]
Popular Bloc [Elias SKAFF]
Syrian Ba'th Party [Sayez SHUKR]
Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali QANSO]
Tashnaq [Hovig MEKHITIRIAN]
Independent:
Democratic Gathering Bloc [Walid JUNBLATT, leader of Progressive Socialist Party]
Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]
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: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
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
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 970,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 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)
Internet country code: .lb
Internet hosts: 64,926 (2012)
Internet users: total: 4 million
percent of population: 67.2% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 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)
Heliports: 1 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 88 km (2012)
Railways: total: 401 km
standard gauge: 319 km 1.435 m gauge
narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050 m gauge
Roadways: total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)
Merchant marine: 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)
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 (UNIFIL) has been in place since 1978
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 449,957 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)); 5,986 (Iraq) (2014); 1,078,338 (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 denaturalilzed 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
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Lebanon is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Eastern European women and children are transported through Lebanon for sexual exploitation in other Middle Eastern countries; women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nepal, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Cameroon, and Nigeria are recruited by agencies to work in domestic service but are often subject to conditions indicative of forced labor, including the withholding of passports, nonpayment of wages, restricted movement, threats, and abuse; Lebanon’s artiste visa program enabling women to work as dancers for three months in the adult entertainment industry sustains a significant sex trade; anecdotal information indicates some Lebanese children are victims of forced labor, such as street begging and commercial sexual exploitation; Syrian refugee women and children in Lebanon are at increased risked of sex trafficking
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Lebanon does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute a significant effort toward meeting the minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking; in 2013, authorities conducted an increased number of investigations of human trafficking and prosecuted and convicted some trafficking offenders; the government identified and referred some trafficking victims to NGO-run safe houses but did not directly fund protective services; Lebanon’s sponsorship system and the withholding of passports continued to put domestic workers at risk of exploitation (2014)
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
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/le.html