Middle East :: Lebanon

Introduction ::Lebanon

    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 long 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 ::Lebanon

People and Society ::Lebanon

Government ::Lebanon

    conventional long form: Lebanese Republic
    conventional short form: Lebanon
    local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah
    local short form: Lubnan
    former: Greater Lebanon
    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
    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
    22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
    Independence Day, 22 November (1943)
    23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently in 1990 to include changes necessitated by the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta'if Accord) of October 1989
    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
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education; excludes military personnel
    note: following the resignation of Prime Minister Najib MIQATI and his Cabinet on 22 March 2013, the government is in caretaker status until a new prime minister is named and a new cabinet is formed
    chief of state: President Michel SULAYMAN (since 25 May 2008)
    head of government: Prime Minister Najib MIQATI (since 7 July 2011), Deputy Prime Minister Samir MOQBIL (since 7 July 2011)
    cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 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; 1 seat unfilled due to death of incumbent
    unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab (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 on 7 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
    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
    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 (6); Courts of First Instance; specialized tribunals, religious courts; military courts
    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]
    Democratic Gathering Bloc [Walid JUNBLATT, leader of Progressive Socialist Party]
    Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]
    Maronite Church [Patriarch Bishara al-Ra'i]
    other: note - most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps
    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
    chief of mission: Ambassador Maura CONNELLY
    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
    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
    cedar tree
    name: "Kulluna lil-watan" (All Of Us, For Our Country!)

    lyrics/music: Rachid NAKHLE/Wadih SABRA
    note: adopted 1927; the anthem was chosen following a nationwide competition

Economy ::Lebanon

    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 - saddling 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. The collapse of the government in early 2011 over its backing of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and unrest in neighboring Syria slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-12, after four years of 8% average growth. In September 2011 the Cabinet endorsed a bill that would provide $1.2 billion in funding to improve Lebanon''s downtrodden electricity sector, but fiscal limitations will test the government''s ability to invest in other areas, such as water.
    $64.22 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    $63.27 billion (2011 est.)
    $62.34 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $41.35 billion (2012 est.)
    1.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    1.5% (2011 est.)
    7% (2010 est.)
    $16,000 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    $16,000 (2011 est.)
    $16,000 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    17.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 87
    22.2% of GDP (2011 est.)
    13.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 81.5%
    government consumption: 15.2%
    investment in fixed capital: 32.9%
    exports of goods and services: 19.2%
    imports of goods and services: -48.8%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 4.6%
    industry: 19.7%
    services: 75.8% (2012 est.)
    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
    2.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    1.481 million
    country comparison to the world: 130
    note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2007 est.)
    agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    28% (1999 est.)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $9.396 billion
    expenditures: $13.32 billion (2012 est.)
    22.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    -9.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 199
    127.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    133.2% of GDP (2011 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
    calendar year
    6.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
    5.1% (2011 est.)
    3.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    10% (31 December 2009 est.)
    7.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    7.53% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $4.712 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    $4.072 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $97.04 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    $92 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $75.76 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 60
    $69.65 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $10.16 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    $12.59 billion (31 December 2010)
    $12.89 billion (31 December 2009)
    -$7.85 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    -$4.163 billion (2011 est.)
    $5.662 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    $5.386 billion (2011 est.)
    jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
    South Africa 16.9%, Switzerland 10.7%, UAE 8.7%, Saudi Arabia 8.5%, Syria 6.4%, Iraq 4.4% (2012)
    $20.38 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    $19.3 billion (2011 est.)
    petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
    US 11.2%, China 8.3%, Italy 7.8%, France 7.4%, Germany 5.4%, Turkey 4.7%, Egypt 4.1%, Greece 4.1% (2012)
    $52.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    $48.14 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $29.02 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    $24.88 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -
    1,507.5 (2012 est.)
    1,507.5 (2011 est.)
    1,507.5 (2010 est.)
    1,507.5 (2009)
    1,507.5 (2008)

Energy ::Lebanon

Communications ::Lebanon

    900,000 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    3.35 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    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)
    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)
    64,926 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    1 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 99

Transportation ::Lebanon

    8 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    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)
    total: 3
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m:
    1 (2013)
    1 (2013)
    gas 88 km (2013)
    total: 401 km
    country comparison to the world: 116
    standard gauge: 319 km 1.435-m gauge
    narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050-m gauge
    note: rail system unusable because of the damage done during fighting in the 1980s and in 2006 (2008)
    total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    total: 29
    country comparison to the world: 85
    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)
    Beirut, Tripoli

Military ::Lebanon

Transnational Issues ::Lebanon

    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 (country of origin): 436,154 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)) (2011); 6,516 (Iraq) (2012); 739,823 (Syria) (2013)
    IDPs: at least 47,000 (1975-90 civil war, 2007 Lebanese security forces' destruction of Palestinian refugee camp) (2011)
    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, 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 risk 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 conducts investigations of human trafficking and possibly some prosecutions but for another year did not report convicting any trafficking offenders or officials complicit in human trafficking; the government continues to lack a formal system for identifying victims and does not have a policy to protect victims from being punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; NGOs, rather than the government, provide victim assistance and protection (2013)
    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