LEBANON IS MORE THAN A COUNTRY, IT IS A MESSAGE
(JOHN PAUL II)
“Lebanon was and still is a living example of coexistence
and perhaps this is the characteristic that is vexing those who want to destroy it.”
(Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir/August 01, 2006).
Facts about Lebanon
Capital : Beirut
Population : 3.5 millions
Area : 10.452 square kilometers
Monetary Unit : the Lebanese Pound
Official Language : Arabic
General Information (lgic.org)
The History of Lebanon (lgic.org)
Lebanese Americans (lgic.org)
Photos of Lebanon (lgic.org)
Background: Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions since 1991 and the end of the devastating 16-year civil war. 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 war, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hizballah, the radical Shi'a party, retains its weapons. Syria maintains about 16,000 troops in Lebanon, based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Syria's troop deployment was legitimized by the Arab League during Lebanon's civil war and in the Ta'if Accord. Damascus justifies its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing Beirut's requests and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord. Israel's withdrawal from its security zone in southern Lebanon in May 2000, however, has emboldened some Lebanese Christians and Druze to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well.
Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
Geographic coordinates: 33 50 N, 35 50 E
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: 16.62%, permanent crops: 13.98%, other: 69.4% (2001)
Irrigated land: 1,200 sq km (1998 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, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: Nahr el 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.
Population: 3,777,218 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.9% (male 517,356; female 496,888), 15-64 years: 66.3% (male 1,197,430; female 1,305,339) , 65 years and over: 6.9% (male 117,930; female 142,275) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 26.9 years, male: 25.9 years, female: 27.9 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.3% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 19.31 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 6.28 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.83 male(s)/female, total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 25.48 deaths/1,000 live births, male: 28.21 deaths/1,000 live births, female: 22.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.35 years, male: 69.91 years, female: 74.91 years (2004 est.
Total fertility rate: 1.95 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.09% (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Lebanese (singular and plural), adjective: Lebanese
Ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%
Religions: Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant), other 1.3%
note: seventeen 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.)
Country name: conventional long form: Lebanese Republic, conventional short form: Lebanon, local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah, local short form: Lubnan
Government type: republic
Administrative divisions: 6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beyrouth, Beqaa, 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 Emile LAHUD (since 24 November 1998)
head of government: Prime Minister Omar KARAMI (since 21 October 2004); Deputy Prime Minister Issam FARES (since 23 October 2000)
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; election last held 15 October 1998 (next scheduled for 2004); note - on 3 September 2004 Parliament voted 96 to 29 to extend Emile LAHUD's six-year 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: Emile LAHUD elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 votes in favor, 0 against, 10 abstentions
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 27 August and 3 September 2000 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - Muslim 57% (of which Sunni 25%, Sh'ite 25%, Druze 6%, Alawite less than 1%), Christian 43% (of which Maronite 23%); seats by party - Muslim 64 (of which Sunni 27, Sh'ite 27, Druze 8, Alawite 2), Christian 64 (of which Maronite 34)
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, AMF, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, LAS, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Dr. Farid ABBOUD
chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:  (202) 939-6320 FAX:  (202) 939-6324
consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Vincent Martin BATTLE
embassy: Awkar, Lebanon
mailing address: P. O. Box 70840, Awkar, Lebanon; PSC 815, Box 2, FPO AE 09836-0002
telephone: 011-961-4-543-600/542-600 FAX: 011-961-4-544-136
Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green cedar tree centered in the white band.
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 enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery was helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers. Family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid provided the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon's economy made impressive gains since the launch in 1993 of "Horizon 2000," the government's $20 billion reconstruction program. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994, 7% in 1995, 4% in 1996 and in 1997, but slowed to 1.2% in 1998, -1.6% in 1999, -0.6% in 2000, 0.8% in 2001, 1.5% in 2002, and 3% in 2003. During the 1990s, annual inflation fell to almost 0% from more than 100%. Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has funded reconstruction by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In order to reduce the ballooning national debt, the re-installed HARIRI government began an economic austerity program to rein in government expenditures, increase revenue collection, and privatize state enterprises. The HARIRI government met with international donors at the Paris II conference in November 2002 to seek bilateral assistance restructuring its domestic debt at lower rates of interest. While privatization of state -owned enterprises had not occurred by the end of 2003, massive receipts from donor nations stabilized government finances throughout 2002 and 2003.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $17.82 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $4,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 12%, industry: 21%, services: 67% (2000)
Investment (gross fixed): 24.8% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line: 28% (1999 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.5% (2003 est.)
Labor force: 1.5 million
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 18% (1997 est.)
Budget: revenues: $4.414 billion, expenditures: $7.026 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2003 est.)
Public debt: 185.1% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products: citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industries: banking; food processing; jewelry; cement; textiles; mineral and chemical products; wood and furniture products; oil refining; metal fabricating
Electricity - production: 6.728 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 7.44 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports: 1.183 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 107,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Current account balance: $-2.865 billion (2003)
Exports: $1.359 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities: authentic jewelry, inorganic chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners: UAE 10.3%, Switzerland 9.3%, Saudi Arabia 7.7%, US 7.5%, Turkey 4.6%, Jordan 4.5% (2003 est.)
Imports: $6.073 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities: petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco
Imports - partners: France 13.1%, Germany 11.4%, Italy 10.5%, Syria 5.2%, China 5.1%, UK 4.8%, US 4.4% (2003 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold: $16.35 billion (2003)
Debt - external: $20.79 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $3.5 billion (pledges 1997-2001); $4.2 billion in soft loan pledges November 2002 Paris II Aid Conference (2002)
Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP)
Currency code: LBP
Exchange rates: Lebanese pounds per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2003), 1,507.5 (2002), 1,507.5 (2001), 1,507.5 (2000), 1,507.84 (1999)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Telephones - main lines in use: 678,800 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 775,100 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: telecommunications system severely damaged by civil war; rebuilding well underway
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay and cable; international: country code - 961; 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 20, FM 22, shortwave 4 (1998)
Television broadcast stations: 15 (plus 5 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code: .lb
Internet hosts: 6,998 (2004)
Internet users: 400,000 (2002)
Railways: total: 401 km, standard gauge: 319 km 1.435-m, narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050-m
note: rail system was unusable because of damage during the civil war in the 1980s; short sections are operable (2003)
Highways: total: 7,300 km, paved: 6,198 km, unpaved: 1,102 km (1999 est.)
Pipelines: oil 209 km (2003)
Ports and harbors: Antilyas, Batroun, Beirut, Chekka, El Mina, Ez Zahrani, Jbail, Jounie, Naqoura, Sidon, Tripoli, Tyre
Merchant marine: total: 49 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 198,602 GRT/248,313 DWT, by type: bulk 5, cargo 23, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, container 2, liquefied gas 1, livestock
carrier 8, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 4, vehicle carrier 3; foreign-owned: Greece 7, India 1, Netherlands 4, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Spain 1, Syria 2 registered in other
countries: 52 (2003 est.)
Airports: 8 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3, 914 to 1,523 m: 2, under 914 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Military branches: Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF; includes Army, Navy, and Air Force)
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 1,049,097 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 643,050 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $541 million (2002)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4.8% (FY99)
Disputes - international: Syrian troops in central and eastern Lebanon since October 1976; Lebanese Government claims Shab'a Farms area of Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
Illicit drugs: cannabis cultivation dramatically reduced to 2,500 hectares in 2002; 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
The World Factbook 2004
Lebanon capitalizes on the initiative of its people and its geographical location to make up for a lack of natural resources.
Traditionally, a substantial percentage of the country’s income derives from remittances sent by the millions of Lebanese residing overseas. A service-based economy, its trading, banking and financial facilities as well as its free currency market made Lebanon the region’s commercial and tourist center before the war. With peace established and reconstruction underway, Lebanon is once again serving as commercial and touristic capital in the area.
About 38% of the country is under cultivation, with wheat, vegetables, fruit, tobacco and olives the main crop categories. There is considerable livestock farming as well. Industry ranges from cement and cables to textiles, clothing furniture, canned goods and light metals. Tourism, one of the mainstays of the pre-war economy, is being revived.
To help strengthen the economy, the authorities have initiated a low income tax schedule to provide investment incentive, increase disposable income and expand the tax base.
Currency and Banking
Movement of currency into and out of the country and all exchange transactions are completely free of any kind of control. Gold and silver coins may be freely exchanged, imported and exported. The monetary unit is the Lebanese pound issued in LL50, LL100, LL250, LL500, LL1,000, LL5,000, LL10,000, LL20,000, LL50,000 and LL100,000 denominations.
Banking is a major industry in Lebanon with strict banking secrecy one of its important features. More than 75 banks operate in the country and transactions are performed efficiently and at low cost.
The Lebanese flag is divided into three wide horizontal stripes with red on top and bottom, and a wider white stripe in the middle. In the center of this stripe is a green cedar tree, the emblem of the country.
Lebanon is a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government and a cabinet headed by a prime minister. Its
constitution is based on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial power, with a president elected for six-year term. The 128 members of parliament are elected by universal adult suffrage for a four year term.
The Lebanese Republic is divided into six regional administrative districts, or Mohafazaat: Beirut, North Lebanon, Mount Lebanon, the Beqaa and Nabatiyeh.
Passports and Visas
Visitors to Lebanon must have a valid passport and a Lebanese visa. Visas are delivered by Lebanese diplomatic missions abroad. Tourists from the US and many Arab and European countries can obtain visas at the airport or any Lebanese border upon arrival.
Examination of travelers’ luggage is carried out rapidly and courteously. All ordinary personal effects are exempt from customs duty.
All the world’s great cities are linked by air with Beirut. The Beirut International Airport at Khaldeh (7 km from Beirut), is used by many international airlines plus the national carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA). In addition, several steamship lines connect the ports of Beirut, Jounieh and Tripoli with the rest of the world.
110 or 220 volts, 50 cycles. It is best to check.
Thanks to its diverse population and different religious groups, Lebanon has a full calendar of official holidays. Although all banks, government offices and schools are closed on these feast days, it is often possible to find some shops and restaurants open for business.
Holidays with fixed dates
|New Year's Day||January 1|
|St. Maron's Day||February 9|
|Labor Day||May 1|
|Martyr's Day||May 6|
|Resistance and Liberation Day||May 25|
|Assumption Day||August 15|
|All Saints Day||November 1|
|Independence Day||November 22|
|Christmas (Armenian Orthodox)||January 6|
Religious Holidays with moveable dates
|Catholic Good Friday|
|Orthodox Good Friday|
|Moslem New Year|
|Al-Fitr (three days)|
|Al-Adha (three days)|
|The Prophet Mohammad's Birthday|
In addition to his native Arabic language, the average Lebanese is often fluent in English or French. Many well educated Lebanese are tri-lingual.
Shopping: Monday through Saturday 9:00 am - 18:00 pm. Hours and in summer many establishments close early.
Working Hours: government offices 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Banking: Hours weekdays 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Saturday 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Temperatures in Beirut (Average Centigrade)
Lebanese time is G.M.T. + 2 hours in winter and + 3 hours in summer.
Geographic and Climate
Although a small country, Lebanon’s varied geographical areas fall into four features. First there is the narrow coastal plain where five of Lebanon’s great historical cities developed: Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon and Tyre. The 220 kilometer-long coastlines is marked by indentations and rocky outcrops wherever the sub-coastal range joins the sea.
The second geographical feature is a north-south mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. Appearing at times to rise abruptly from the sea, Mount Lebanon covers more than a third of the country. Its western slopes are well wooded and are frequently broken by wild valley. The mountains rise gradually over a distance of some 30 kilometers to the highest peaks of Sannine (2,628 meters) and Qornet Es Sawda (3,069 meters).
It is Mount Lebanon, or Jabal Lebnen, that gave its name to the country. In fact Lebanon owes its geographical unity to this mountainous range, which is almost entirely contained within its frontiers.
The next of Lebanon’s four areas is the Beqaa valley which is between 8 to 15 kilometers wide and about 120 kilometers long from north to south. A fertile plain east of the Mount Lebanon range between 800 and 1,250 meters in elevation, the Beqaa valley was known as the breadbasket of the Roman Empire in ancient times. Still the major agricultural zone of Lebanon, the central area is the most fertile while the southern part is less cultivated, being swampy and full of rocks. It is through the Beqaa that the 140 kilometers-long Litani River, the longest in the Lebanon, turns to meet the Mediterranean between Sidon and Tyre.
On the eastern side of the Beqaa, the Anti-Lebanon mountains and Mount Hermon rise. A chain of rocky, almost treeless mountains running parallel to the Lebanon range, the Anti-Lebanon is lower but more complete than Mount Lebanon. These mountains form the frontier between Lebanon and Syria.
Lebanon enjoys an essentially Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and long summers which are warm and humid. The spring months sometimes witness the so-called Khamseen, a hot, dry wind, but these winds are usually short-lived.
Snow Ski and Water Ski
Lebanon is one of the few winter sports centers in the Middle East and certainly the most extensive. The season begins in December and continues until April in a winter landscape surprising in its variety and beauty. The largest resorts have hotels, chalets and other facilities, including good ski lifts. There are six winter resorts: The Cedars (2,300 meters), Faraya Ouyoun As Siman (1,890 m), Laklouk (1,740 meters), Faqra (1,750 meters), Qanat Bakiche (1,990 meters) and Zaarour (1,990 meters).
Lebanon’s long varied coastline and its Mediterranean climate make it an ideal place for water sports. Numerous resort complexes, beaches and swimming clubs have aquatic amusements and sports on offer, including water skiing, surfing, underwater fishing, sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Equipment for water skiing and scuba diving can be rented from clubs and shops.
As tempting as the seaside is, many more sports opportunities await the visitor. Tennis, squash and football are all popular. There are fitness clubs where it is possible to work out, as well as groups interested in judo, karate, yoga, gymnastics, parasailing, golf, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, mountain climbing and potholing.
For further information write to:
The Ministry of Tourism
550 Central Bank Street
Tlx: 20898 LE
P.O.Box 11/5344, Beirut, Lebanon
Office du Tourisme du Liban
124, Rue du Faubourg St. Honore 75008 Paris,
France. Tel: (33) 143591199
Lebanon Tourist Office
I, Talaat Harb Str. (Midan al-Tahrir)
Tel & Fax: 3937529
Tlx: 92227 - Liban UN
Text: Dr- Hassan Salameh Sarkis
Ministry of tourism Cental Bank Street
Tel.: 961 (1) 340940/4 - Tlx: 20898 LE
Cable TOULIBAN- Fax: 961 (1) 343945
P.O.Box: 11-5344, Beirut, Lebanon.
In the event of any difficulty or problem, visitors may contact the Tourist Police at telephone (01) 350901, (01) 343286. Fax: 01-343504