Lebanon
Republic of Lebanon
اَلْجُمْهُورِيَّة اَللُّبْنَانِيَّة
al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah
République libanaise
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Lebanese National Anthem
Location of Lebanon
Location of Lebanon
Capital
(and largest city)
Beirut
33°54′N 35°32′E / 33.9°N 35.533°E / 33.9; 35.533
Official language(s) Arabic1
Ethnic groups  95% "Arab", 4% Armenian, 1% other[1]
Demonym Lebanese
Government Unitary confessionalist and Parliamentary republic[2]
 -  President Michel Suleiman
 -  Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri
 -  Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Legislature Chamber of Deputies
Independence End of French League of Nations Mandate 
 -  Declaration of Greater Lebanon 1 September 1920 
 -  Constitution 23 May 1926 
 -  Declared 26 November 1941 
 -  Recognized 22 November 1943 
Area
 -  total 10,452 km2 (166th)
4,036 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.6
Population
 -  2008 estimate 4,224,000[3] (124th)
 -  Density 404/km2 (25th)
1,046/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $61.581 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $15,557[4] 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $42.539 billion[4] 
 -  Per capita $10,746[4] 
HDI (2011) decrease 0.739[5] (high) (71st)
Currency Lebanese pound (LBP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code LB
Internet TLD .lb
Calling code 961[1]
1Article 11 of the Constitution of Lebanon states that "Arabic is the official national language. A law shall determine the cases in which the French language is to be used."

Lebanon (Listeni/ˈlɛbənɒn/ or /ˈlɛbənən/; Arabic: لُبْنَانLubnān; French: Liban), officially the Republic of Lebanon[nb 1] (Arabic: اَلْجُمْهُورِيَّة اَللُّبْنَانِيَّة al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah; French: République libanaise), is a country in the East Mediterranean. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has dictated its rich history, and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.[6]

The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than 7,000 years—predating recorded history.[7] Lebanon was the home of the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for nearly 2,500 years (3000–539 BC). Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five provinces that comprise modern Lebanon were mandated to France. The French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon, which was mostly populated by Maronite Catholics and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, and established a unique political system, known as confessionalism, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities – Bechara El Khoury who became independent Lebanon first President and Riad El-Solh, who became Lebanon's first prime minister, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country's independence. French troops withdrew from Lebanon in 1946.

Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, and banking.[8] Because of its financial power and diversity, Lebanon was known in its heyday as the "Switzerland of the East".[9] It attracted large numbers of tourists,[10] such that the capital Beirut was referred to as "Paris of the Middle East." At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.[11]

Until July 2006, Lebanon enjoyed considerable stability, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete,[12] and increasing numbers of tourists poured into the nation's resorts.[10] Then, the month-long 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon caused significant civilian death and heavy damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure.

Due to its tightly regulated financial system and the highest gold reserve in the Middle East, Lebanese banks largely avoided the financial crisis of 2007–2010. In 2009, despite a global recession, Lebanon enjoyed 9% economic growth and hosted the largest number of tourists in its history; however, by 2011, economic growth had slowed to below average for the region.[13]

Lebanon is known for its unique efforts in the Middle East to guarantee civil rights and freedom to its citizens, ranking first in the Middle East and 26th worldwide (out of 66 countries) in the The World Justice Project's Rule of Law Index 2011.[14]

Contents

Etymology

The name Lebanon comes from the Semitic root lbn, meaning "white", likely a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon.[15] Upon his arrival to Lebanon around 47 BC, Julius Caesar proclaimed "Lub" "Na'an", meaning "White-Land" in Semitic.[16]

Occurrences of the name have been found in texts from the library of Ebla,[17] which date to the third millennium BC, nearly 70 times in the Hebrew Bible, and three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh (perhaps as early as 2100 BC).[18]

The name is recorded in Ancient Egyptian as Rmnn, where R stood for Canaanite L.[19]

Geology and Archaeology

Lebanon is mainly composed of Jurassic age rock overlaid in places with a Cretaceous layer, the oldest of which is sandstone, usually occurring at altitudes of over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level.[20] Evidence of early habitation in Lebanon has been shown in flint industries dating to the Lower Paleolithic.[21]

History

Ancient history

Evidence of an early settlement in Lebanon was found in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world,[7] and date back to earlier than 5000 BC. Archaeologists discovered remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars left by the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.[22]

Lebanon was the homeland of the Phoenicians, a seafaring people that spread across the Mediterranean before the rise of Cyrus the Great.[23] After two centuries of Persian rule, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great attacked and burned Tyre, the most prominent Phoenician city. Throughout the subsequent centuries leading up to recent times, the country became part of numerous succeeding empires, among them Egyptian Empire, Persian, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Arab, Seljuk, Mamluk, Crusader, and the Ottoman Empire.

Medieval times

Carthage and its dependencies in the 3rd century BC. It was one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean.
Prince Bashir II "the Great" was Emir of Mt. Lebanon from 1788 until 1840.

In 1590, Fakhr-al-Din II became successor to Korkmaz. He was a skilled politician and described as a pupil of Machiavelli. Fakhr-al-Din II adjusted to the lifestyles of the Druze, Christianity and Islam, according to his needs. He paid tribute to the Sultanate of the Ottoman Empire and shared the spoils of war with his masters. Eventually, Fakhr-al-Din II was appointed Sultan of Mt. Lebanon, with full authority. He was considered one of the greatest rulers of the region, also across the Middle of Lebanon. But, his enemies and governors angered the Ottoman Sultanate. Hence, a campaign, calling for the arrest of Fakhr-al-Din II, found the deposed leader in Istanbul, where he was executed by hanging.[24] Shortly afterwards, the Emirate of Mt. Lebanon that lasted more than 500 years was replaced, instead of the emirate meteor.

French mandate and independence

The States of the French Mandate

Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, until 1918 when the area became a part of the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon following World War I. By the end of the war, famine had killed an estimated 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, about 30% of the total population.[25] On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria.[26] Lebanon was a largely Christian (mainly Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox) enclaves but it also included areas containing many Muslims (including Druze). On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926 establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.

Lebanon gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany.[27] General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.

After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941 General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by throwing the new government into prison. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943 and recognized the independence of Lebanon.

The allies kept the region under control until the end of World War II. The last French troops withdrew in 1946. Lebanon's unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Maronite Christian, its speaker of the parliament to be a Shiite Muslim, its prime minister be Sunni Muslim, and the deputy speaker of Parliament and the deputy prime minister be Greek Orthodox.[28]

Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil (including a civil conflict in 1958) interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.[29]

1948 Arab-Israeli war

In May 1948, Lebanon supported neighbouring Arab countries against Israel. While some irregular forces crossed the border and carried out minor skirmishes against Israel, it was without the support of the Lebanese government, and Lebanese troops did not officially invade.[30] Lebanon agreed to support the forces with covering artillery fire, armored cars, volunteers and logistical support.[31] On 5–6 June 1948, the Lebanese army captured Al-Malkiyya. This was Lebanon's only success in the war.[32]

During the war, some 100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon, and Israel did not permit their return at the end of hostilities.[33] Palestinians, previously prevented from working at all due to denial of citizenship, are now forbidden to work in some 20 professions after liberalization laws.[34] Today, more than 400,000 refugees remain in limbo, about half in camps.[35]

Civil war and beyond

In 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War lasted fifteen years, devastating the country's economy, and resulting in massive loss of human life and property. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 wounded.[36] Some 900,000 people, representing one-fifth of the pre-war population, were displaced from their homes.[37] The war ended in 1990 with the signing of the Taif Agreement and parts of Lebanon were left in ruins.[38]

GDP Change in Lebanon before and during the civil war (in real terms)[39]

1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1990 2000 2005 2011
GDP change (in real terms) 12.2% 4.7% 2.4% −30.3% −57.0% 67.7% −2.6% 2.4% 1.5% 0.6% −36.8% 6.5% 8.5% 4.6% 3.5%
GDP per capita (US$, current values) 893 1132 1423 1186 527 1005 1091 1274 1526 1470 1006 2201 4889 8921 11109

During the civil war, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) used Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel. Lebanon was twice invaded and occupied by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1978 and 1982,[40] with the PLO expelled in the second invasion. Israel remained in control of Southern Lebanon until 2000, when there was a general decision, led by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to withdraw because of continuous attacks executed by Hezbollah, and a belief that the violence would diminish and dissolve without the Israeli presence in Lebanon.[41] The UN determined that the withdrawal of Israeli troops beyond the blue line was in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, although a border region called the Shebaa Farms is still disputed. Hezbollah declared that it would not stop its operations against Israel until this area was liberated.[42]

Cedar Revolution

Part of Rue Minet al Hosn, where Rafik Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005

On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion near the Saint George Hotel in Beirut.[43] Leaders of the March 14 Alliance, a pro-Western coalition, accused Syria of the attack[44] because of its extensive military and intelligence presence in Lebanon, and the public rift between Hariri and Damascus over the Syrian-backed constitutional amendment extending President Lahoud's term in office. Others, namely the March 8 Alliance and Syrian officials, claimed that the assassination may have been executed by the Israeli Mossad in an attempt to destabilize the country.[45]

This incident triggered a series of demonstrations, dubbed the 'Cedar Revolution,' which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1559 on 7 April 2005, which called for an investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri.[46] Preliminary findings of the investigation were officially published on 20 October 2005 in the Mehlis report, which cited indications that high-ranking members of the Syrian and Lebanese governments were involved in the assassination.[47] Eventually, and under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing its 15,000-strong army troops from Lebanon.[48] By 26 April 2005, all uniformed Syrian soldiers had already crossed the border back to Syria.[49] The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassination attempts that resulted in the loss of many prominent Lebanese figures.[50]

The UN Investigation and the controversy

In 2005, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Mehlis as the Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people in Beirut. In October 2005, Jund al-Sham threatened to slaughter Detlev Mehlis while he was heading the UN inquiry into the assassination of Rafik Hariri, claiming that Mehlis was connected with Israel and the CIA.

The Mehlis report was presented to the Secretary General on 20 October 2005. It implicated Lebanese and Syrian Military Intelligence in the assassination, and it accused Syrian officials, including now Foreign Minister Muallem, of misleading the investigation. A second report was submitted on 10 December 2005. On 11 January 2006 Mehlis, upon his own suggestion, was replaced by Serge Brammertz.

2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

The conflict began when Hezbollah militants launched a missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two additional soldiers, believed to have been killed outright or mortally wounded, were taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Israel responded by bombing Lebanon, causing damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure (including Beirut's airport). Beirut's southern suburb was razed to the ground by Israeli airplanes.

The month-long conflict caused a significant loss of life; some 1,600 Lebanese and nearly 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict. In Israel, 3,970 Hezbollah rockets landed on northern Israel, landing many in urban areas and killing 44 civilians. The conflict officially ended on 14 August 2006, when the United Nations Security Council issued resolution 1701 ordering a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel and After Israel Declared Hezbollah's Victory.[51] Goldwasser and Regev, two captured Israeli soldiers, were held for two years, without indication as to their health, until their remains were returned by Hezbollah to Israel on 16 July 2008 in a trade for all Lebanese prisoners, both dead and living. Hezbollah had told Israel, prior to the prisoner swap, that these soldiers were alive.[citation needed]

Nahr al-Bared conflict

Nahr al-Bared (Arabic: نهر البارد, literally: Cold River) is a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, 16 km from the city of Tripoli. Some 30,000 displaced Palestinians and their descendants live in and around the camp, which was named after the river that runs south of the camp. The camp was established in December 1949 by the League of Red Cross Societies in order to accommodate the Palestinian refugees suffering from the difficult winter conditions in the Beqaa Valley and the suburbs of Tripoli. The Lebanese Army is banned from entering all Palestinian camps under the 1969 Cairo Agreement.

Late in the night of Saturday 19 May 2007, a building was surrounded by Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) in which a group of Fatah al-Islam militants accused of taking part in a bank robbery earlier that day were hiding. The ISF attacked the building early on Sunday 20 May 2007, unleashing a day long battle between the ISF and Fatah al-Islam militants. As a response, members of Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared Camp attacked an army checkpoint, killing several soldiers in their sleep. The army immediately responded by shelling the camp and Launching Rockets Bringing down Specific Buildings.

The camp became the center of the fighting between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. It sustained heavy shelling while under siege. UNRWA estimates the battle between the army and Islamic militant group Fatah al-Islam destroyed or rendered uninhabitable as much as 85 percent of homes in the camp and ruined infrastructure. The camp’s up to 40,000 residents were forced to flee, many of them sheltering in the already overcrowded Beddawi camp, 10 km south.

At least 169 soldiers, 287 insurgents and 47 civilians were killed in the army’s battle with the al-Qaeda-inspired militants. Funds for the reconstruction of the area have been slow to materialize, and life for the displaced refugees is difficult.[52]

2008 Internal Strife

When Émile Lahoud's presidential term ended in October 2007, the opposition refused to vote for a successor unless a power-sharing deal was reached, leaving Lebanon without a president. On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal forces, sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah's communications network was illegal, seized western Beirut[53] in Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975–90 civil war.[54] Moreover, the violence, decried by the Lebanese government as an attempted coup,[55] threatened to escalate into another civil war.[56] At least 62 people died in the resulting clashes between pro-government and opposition militias.[57]

On 21 May 2008, after five days of negotiation under Arab League mediation in Qatar, all major parties signed the Doha Agreement, which ended the fighting.[53][57] Under the accord, both sides agreed to elect former army head Michel Suleiman president and establish a national unity government with a veto share for the opposition.[53] This ended 18 months of political paralysis.[56] The agreement was a victory for opposition forces, who received concessions regarding the composition of the cabinet, Hezbollah's telecommunications network, and the airport security chief, increasing their political clout.[57]

2011 government collapse

In early January 2011, the national unity government collapsed after all ten opposition ministers and one presidential appointee resigned due to tensions stemming from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members in the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri.[58] The collapse plunged Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 2008 fighting, and indicated further political gains for the Hezbollah-led opposition March 8 Alliance, which gained a parliamentary majority. The parliament elected Najib Mikati, the 8 March candidate, Prime Minister of Lebanon, making him responsible for forming a new government.[59]

Geography and climate

Lebanon from space. Snow cover can be seen on the western and eastern mountain ranges
Mountain scenery in Barouk
A view from Beaufort Castle in south Lebanon

Lebanon is located in Western Asia, between latitudes 33° and 35° N, and longitudes 35° and 37° E. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the west along a 225-kilometre (140 mi) coastline, by Syria to the east and north, and by Israel to the south. The Lebanon-Syria border stretches for 375 kilometres (233 mi) and the Lebanon-Israel border for 79 kilometres (49 mi). The border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms.[60]

Most of Lebanon's area is mountainous terrain,[61] except for the narrow coastline and the Beqaa Valley, which plays an integral role in Lebanon's agriculture. However, climate change and political differences threaten conflict over water resources in the Valley.[62]

Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate. In coastal areas, winters are generally cool and rainy whilst summers are hot and humid. In more elevated areas, temperatures usually drop below freezing during the winter with frequent, sometimes heavy snow; summers are warm and dry.[63] Although most of Lebanon receives a relatively large amount of rainfall annually (compared to its arid surroundings), certain areas in north-eastern Lebanon receive little because of the high peaks of the western mountain front blocking much of the rain clouds that originate over the Mediterranean Sea.[64]

In ancient times, Lebanon housed large forests of the Cedars of Lebanon, which now serve as the country's national emblem.[65] However, centuries of trading cedar trees, used by mariners for boats, and the absence of any efforts to replant them have depleted the country's once-flourishing cedar forests, Now in The Lebanese People are Trying to Replant The Cedar Trees but Many Luxurious Ski resorts have Been Built in Place of the Forests.[65]

Late Cretaceous fish fossils beds of Lebanon are world famous, and are in the top twenty or thirty such location around the world.[66]

Government and politics

The Lebanese parliament building at the Place de l'Étoile.
The Grand Serail, the government headquarters in downtown Beirut.

Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy, which implements a special system known as confessionalism.[67] This system is intended to deter sectarian conflict and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized religious groups in government.[68][69] High-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Greek Orthodox.[70][71]

Lebanon's national legislature is the unicameral Parliament of Lebanon. Its 128 seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims, proportionately between the 18 different denominations and proportionately between its 26 regions.[72] Prior to 1990, the ratio stood at 6:5 in favor of Christians; however, the Taif Accord, which put an end to the 1975–1990 civil war, adjusted the ratio to grant equal representation to followers of the two religions.[70] The Parliament is elected for a four-year term by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation.[1]

The executive branch consists of the President, the head of state, and the Prime Minister, the head of government. The parliament elects the president for a non-renewable six-year term by a two-third majority. The president appoints the Prime Minister,[73] following consultations with the parliament. The President and the Prime Minister form the Cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism.

On 27 June 2009, Lebanon's president Michel Suleiman appointed parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri as prime minister after his pro-Western coalition, the March 14 Alliance, defeated a Hezbollah-led alliance in a June 2009 election.[74] In November, after five months of cabinet negotiations, Hariri formed a national unity government.[75] In January 2011, the government collapsed after all ten opposition ministers and one presidential appointee resigned due to tensions stemming from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members in the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri.[58]

Lebanon's judicial system is a mixture of Ottoman law, Napoleonic code, canon law and civil law. The Lebanese court system consists of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. The Constitutional Council rules on constitutionality of laws and electoral frauds. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on matters such as marriage and inheritance.[76]

Foreign relations

Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization.

Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, Syria and Iraq), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in more than 35 years. Lebanon is a member of the Francophone countries and hosted the Francophone Summit in October 2002 as well as the Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009.

Military

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has 72,100 active personnel,[77] including 1,100 in the air force, and 1,000 in the navy.[78] The Lebanese Armed Forces' primary missions include defending Lebanon and its citizens against external aggression, maintaining internal stability and security, confronting threats against the country's vital interests, engaging in social development activities, and undertaking relief operations in coordination with public and humanitarian institutions.[79]

Lebanon is a major recipient of foreign military aid.[80] With $400 million since 2005, it is the second largest per capita recipient of American military aid behind Israel.[81]

Governorates and districts

Lebanon is divided into six governorates (mohaafazaat, Arabic: محافظات —‎;singular mohafazah, Arabic: محافظة‎) which are further subdivided into twenty-five districts (aqdya—singular: qadaa).[82] The districts themselves are also divided into several municipalities, each enclosing a group of cities or villages. The governorates and their respective districts are listed below:

Economy

Coat of Arms of Lebanon.svg

Economy of Lebanon

Tourism
Agriculture
Beirut Stock Exchange
Companies listed on BSE
Companies
Banque du Liban
Shipping
Topics of Lebanon
Culture - Geography
History - Politics

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The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise.[83] Over the course of time, emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world.[84] As a result, remittances from Lebanese abroad to family members within the country total $8.2 billion[85] and account for one fifth of the country's economy.[86] Lebanon has the largest proportion of skilled labor among Arab States.[87]

Although Lebanon is ideally suited for agricultural activities in terms of water availability and soil fertility, as it possesses the highest proportion of cultivable land in the Arabic speaking world,[88] it does not have a large agricultural sector. Attracting only 12% of the total workforce,[89] agriculture is the least popular economic sector in Lebanon. It contributes approximately 11.7% of the country's GDP, also placing it in the lowest rank compared to other economic sectors. Major produce includes apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.[8]

Industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses that reassemble and package imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population,[89] and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.[8]

A combination of beautiful climate, many historic landmarks and World Heritage Sites continues to attract large numbers of tourists to Lebanon. In addition, Lebanon's strict financial secrecy and capitalist economy have given it significant, though no longer dominant, economic status among Arab countries. The thriving tourism and banking activities have naturally made the services sector the most important pillar of the Lebanese economy. The majority of the Lebanese workforce (nearly 65%)[89] attains employment in the services sector as a result of the abundant job opportunities. The GDP contribution, accordingly, amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP.[8] However, dependence on the tourism and banking sectors leaves the economy vulnerable to political instability.[90]

The Kadisha Valley is a World Heritage Site

The 1975–1990 civil war heavily damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a West Asian entrepôt and banking hub.[1] The subsequent period of relative peace 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.[91]

Until the 2006 Lebanon War, Lebanon's economy witnessed excellent growth, with bank assets reaching over 75 billion US dollars,[92] By the end of the first half of 2006, the influx of tourists to Lebanon had already registered a 49.3% increase over 2005 figures (which was a low figure, making the 49.3% increase seem more spectacular than it was).[92] Market capitalization was also at an all time high, estimated at $10.9 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2006, just weeks before the fighting started.[92]

The war severely damaged Lebanon's fragile economy, especially the tourism sector. According to a preliminary report published by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance on 30 August 2006, a major economic decline was expected as a result of the fighting.[93]

Rafiq Hariri International Airport re-opened in September 2006, and the efforts to revive the Lebanese economy have proceeded at a slow pace. Major contributors to the reconstruction of Lebanon include Saudi Arabia (with US$ 1.5 billion pledged),[94] the European Union (with about $1 billion)[95] and a few other Persian Gulf countries with contributions of up to $800 million.[96]

According to the CIA World Factbook, Lebanon's 2010 public debt exceeded 150.7% of GDP, ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, though down from 154.8% in 2009.[1] Finance minister Mohammad Chatah stated that the debt reached $47 billion in 2008 and would increase to $49 billion if privatization of two telecoms companies did not occur.[97] The Daily Star wrote that exorbitant debt levels have "slowed down the economy and reduced the government's spending on essential development projects."[98]

Given the frequent security turmoil it has faced, the Lebanese banking system has adopted a conservative approach, with strict regulations imposed by the central bank to protect the economy from political instability. These regulations have generally left Lebanese banks unscathed by the Financial crisis of 2007–2010. Lebanese banks remain, under the current circumstances, high on liquidity and reputed for their security.[99] Consequently, Lebanon is one of the only seven countries in the world in which the value of the stock markets increased in 2008.[100] Moreover, in 2009, Lebanon hosted the largest number of tourists to date, eclipsing the previous record set before the Lebanese Civil War.[101] The Lebanese economy grew 8.5 percent in 2008 and a revised 9 percent in 2009[102] despite a global recession.[103] Furthermore, the World Bank estimated GDP growth in 2010 to be seven percent.[103] As of 31 August 2010, The Daily Star reported that The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released an updated outlook on the Lebanese economy, predicting real gross domestic produce (GDP) growth would reach 6.8 percent in 2010 and 5.8 percent in 2011.[104]

Oil has recently been discovered inland and in the seabed between Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and talks are underway between Cyprus and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources.The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.[105]

To boost the economy and increase foreign direct investments, the Lebanese government has established a national investment promotion agency, IDAL, the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon in 1994. It was established with the aim of promoting Lebanon as a key investment destination, and attracting facilitating, and retaining investments in the country. In 2001, Investment Law No.360[106] was enacted to reinforce the organisation's mission, providing a framework for regulating investment activities in Lebanon, and providing local and foreign investors alike with a range of incentives and business support services. In addition to its role as an investment promotion agency, IDAL was entrusted with the active promotion and marketing of Lebanese exports including but not limited to agricultural and agro-industrial products. IDAL enjoys financial and administrative autonomy and reports to the President of the Council of Ministers who exercises a tutorial authority over it.

Tourism

Baalbek Temple of Jupiter
Sunset in Raouche

Between 2005 and 2007, Lebanon was in a state of political turmoil, resulting in a sharp fall in tourism. Over the course of 2008 Lebanon rebuilt its infrastructure mainly in the real estate and tourism sectors resulting in a comparatively robust post war economy. In 2009, the New York Times ranked Beirut the No. 1 travel destination worldwide Due to its Unique Nightlife and Hospitality.[107] In January 2010, the Ministry of Tourism announced that 1,851,081 tourists had visited Lebanon in 2009, a 39% increase from 2008, with Hotels reporting an occupancy rate of 95% in 2009. In March 2010, the Lebanon Opportunities review[citation needed] reported that 500,000 tourists had already come to Lebanon since the beginning of the year. Overall, Lebanon has seen an annual increase in tourism since 2006. The Ministry of Tourism said that more than 2.5 million tourists from the Gulf, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America visited in 2010.

Recently, after the long years of the civil war and reoccurring periods of political unrest in Lebanon, Lebanon has become an increasingly popular destination for tourism. Its rich history, historic sites, mild climate, along with other factors, have all made Lebanon currently one of the most visited countries in the Middle East. Lebanon, even in its post-war state, has managed to attract around 1,333,000 tourists in 2008, thus placing it as rank 79 out of 191 participating countries.[108] Statistics have shown that Lebanon's tourist attraction rate has been increasing rapidly and the Ministry of Tourism predicts that this ongoing trend will amplify in the coming years. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are the two most popular origin countries of foreign tourists to Lebanon.[109]

Education

Schools

All Lebanese schools are required to follow a prescribed curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Some of the 1400 private schools offer IB programs,[110] and may also add more courses to their curriculum with approval from the Ministry of Education. The main subjects taught are mathematics, sciences, Arabic, and at least one secondary language (either French or English).

The government introduces a mild form of selectivity into the curriculum by giving 11th graders choice between two "concentrations": sciences, humanities, and 12th graders choose between four concentrations: life sciences, general sciences, sociology and economics, and humanities and literature. The choices in concentration do not include major changes in the number of subjects taken (if at all). However, subjects that fall out of the concentration are given less weight in grading and are less rigorous, while subjects that fall within the concentration are more challenging and contribute significantly to the final grade.

Students go through three academic phases:

Name Number of years Annotations
Elementary 6
Intermediate 3 students earn Intermediate Certification (Lebanese Brevet) at completion
Secondary 3 students who pass official exams earn a Baccalaureate Certificate (Baccalauréat Libanais) in the concentration they chose in 12th grade. Students studying at French-system schools or American-system schools may also graduate with a French Baccalaureate that is considered equivalent to the Lebanese Baccalaureate. Students can also graduate with an International Baccalaureate (current in some of the private schools).

The first eight years are, by law, compulsory.[8] Nevertheless, this requirement currently falls short of being fully enforced.

Higher education

Following secondary school, Lebanese students may choose to study at a university, a college, or a vocational training institute. The number of years to complete each program varies. While the Lebanese educational system offers a very high quality and international class of education, the local employment market lacks sufficient opportunities, thus encouraging many of the young educated to travel abroad.

Lebanon has forty-one nationally accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized.[111][112] The American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) were the first Anglophone and the first Francophone universities to open in Lebanon, respectively.[113][114] Another prestigious and internationally recognized university is the Lebanese American University (LAU). The Lebanese American University is composed of two campuses, one in Beirut and the other in Byblos. Universities in Lebanon, both public and private, largely operate in French or English.[115]

The American University of Beirut is one of the highest-ranked and oldest universities in the Middle East. In 1862 American missionaries in Lebanon and Syria, under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, asked Dr. Daniel Bliss to establish a college of higher learning that would include medical training. On 24 April 1863, while Dr. Daniel Bliss was raising money for the new college in the United States and England, the State of New York granted a charter for the Syrian Protestant College. The college, which was renamed the American University of Beirut in 1920, opened with a class of 16 students on 3 December 1866. Dr. Bliss served as its first president, from 1866 until 1902. The American University of Beirut (AUB) has been accredited as an institution since 2004 by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, Tel. 267-284-5000). AUB’s accreditation was most recently reaffirmed in June 2009, after the completion of an extensive self-study that was reviewed by educational experts chosen in consultation with Middle States. The University’s next full accreditation cycle is due in 2018–19. Over the last several years, a number of University programs and faculties have also sought accreditation with more specialized bodies. The Faculty of Health Sciences’ Graduate Public Health program became the first such program to be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) outside of North America. Similarly, the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing became the first nursing school beyond American territories to have BSN and MSN programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In April 2009, undergraduate and graduate programs at the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business were accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Most recently, in July 2010, four undergraduate Engineering programs at AUB’s Faculty of Engineering and Architecture were accredited by ABET Inc. (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). In general, the accreditation process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of a university, faculty, or program, confirming that it is worthy of public confidence. AUB has been registered with and recognized by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) since 1863. Its degrees are recognized by the Lebanese government through the equivalence committees of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

At the English universities, students who have graduated from an American-style high school program enter at the freshman level to earn their baccalaureate equivalence from the Lebanese Ministry of Higher Education. This qualifies them to continue studying at the higher levels. Such students are required to have already taken the SAT I and the SAT II upon applying to college, in lieu of the official exams. On the other hand, students who have graduated from a school that follows the Lebanese educational system are directly admitted to the sophomore year. These students are still required to take the SAT I, but not the SAT II. The university academic degrees for the first stage are the Bachelor or the Licence, for the second stage are the Master or the DEA and the third stage is the doctorate.

The United Nations assigned Lebanon an education index of 0.871 in 2008. The index, which is determined by the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio, ranked the country 88th out of the 177 countries participating.[116]

Demographics

Identifying all Lebanese as ethnically Arab is a widely employed example of panethnicity since in reality, the Lebanese “are descended from many different peoples who have occupied, invaded, or settled this corner of the world,” making Lebanon, “a mosaic of closely interrelated cultures”.[117] While at first glance, this ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity might seem to cause civil and political unrest, “for much of Lebanon’s history this multitudinous diversity of religious communities has coexisted with little conflict”.[117]

The population of Lebanon was estimated to be 4,125,247 in July 2010,[1] however no official census has been taken since 1932 due to the sensitive confessional political balance between Lebanon's various religious groups.[118]

Population projection

Lebanese fertility declined from 4.23 in 1978 to within decimal points of the 2.1 children per woman level in 2000, and this was because "most of the female population [fell] into the better-educated groups", making Lebanon's fertility rate the lowest in the Arabic-speaking world.[119]

US Census Bureau, 2010 est.[120] :

  • 2020: 4,459,000
  • 2030: 4,512,000
  • 2040: 4,498,000
  • 2050: 4,389,000

United Nations, 2010 est.[121] :

  • 2020: 4,617,000
  • 2030: 4,713,000
  • 2040: 4,655,000
  • 2050: 4,414,000
  • 2060: 4,211,000
  • 2070: 4,113,000
  • 2080: 4,090,000
  • 2090: 3,989,000
  • 2100: 3,870,000

Religion

Lebanon has the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East.[122]

Lebanon's population is estimated to be 59.7% Muslim: 40% Shia 21% Sunni 5.7% Other (Shia, Sunni, Isma'ilite, Alawite, or Nusayri and non—Muslims with similar beliefs to the Muslim such as Druze), 39% Christian: (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), and 1.3% other.[1] Over the past 60 years, there has been a steady decline in the number of Christians as compared to Muslims, due to higher emigration rates among Christians, and a higher birth rate among the Muslim population.[123] The most recent study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, found that approximately 20% of the population was Sunni, 40% Shi'a, 21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Druze, 5% Greek Catholic, and 7% other Christian sects.[123] There are 18 state-recognized religious sects – 4 Muslim, 12 Christian, 1 Druze, and 1 Jewish.[123]

Religions in Lebanon by sect (2010).[123]

The Shi'a community is estimated to be 27%[123] of Lebanon's total population, and is often described as being the largest of Lebanon's Muslim communities,[124] or the largest of the 18 recognized religious sects in Lebanon.[125] Shi'a residents primarily live in South Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and southern Lebanon.[124]

The Sunni community is estimated to be 27% of Lebanon's total population.[123] Sunni residents primarily live in West Beirut, the southern coast of Lebanon, and northern Lebanon.[124]

The Maronite community is estimated to be approximately 21% of Lebanon's total population.[123] Maronite residents tend to live in East Beirut and the mountains of Lebanon.[124] They are the largest Christian community in Lebanon.[124]

The Greek orthodox community is estimated to be approximately 8% of Lebanon's total population. Greek orthodox residents primarily live in Koura, Beirut, Zahleh, Rachaya, Matn, Aley, Akkar, Tripoli, Hasbaya and Marjeyoun. They are the second largest Christian community in Lebanon and the 4th largest religious community in the country.

Language

Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that "Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French language may be used".[126] The majority of Lebanese people speak Lebanese Arabic, while formal Arabic is mostly used in magazines, newspapers, and formal broadcast media. Almost 40% of Lebanese are considered francophone, and another 15% "partial francophone," and 70% of Lebanon's secondary school use French as a second language of instruction.[127] By comparison, English is used as a secondary language in 30% of Lebanon's secondary schools.[127] The use of French is a legacy of the post-World War I League of Nations mandate over Lebanon given to France; as of 2004, some 20% of the population used French on a daily basis.[61]

English is increasingly used in science and business interactions, but French is still the language generally used by intellectuals.[128] Lebanese people of Armenian, Assyrian, or Greek descent often speak Armenian, Neo-Aramaic, or Greek with varying degrees of fluency. There are currently around 150,000 Armenians in Lebanon, or around 5% of the population.[129]

Diaspora

Millions of people of Lebanese descent are spread throughout the world, mostly Christians,[130] especially in Latin America.[131] Brazil has the largest expatriate population.[132] See Lebanese Brazilian. Large numbers of Lebanese migrated to West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast (home to over 100,000 Lebanese)[133] and Senegal (roughly 30,000 Lebanese).[134] Australia is home to over 270,000 Lebanese (1999 est.).[135]

Refugees

As of 2007, Lebanon was host to over 375,000 refugees and asylum seekers: 270,800 Palestinians, 50,000 from Iraq,[136] and 4,500 from Sudan. Lebanon forcibly repatriated more than 300 refugees and asylum seekers in 2007.[137]

In the last three decades, lengthy and destructive armed conflicts have ravaged the country. The majority of Lebanese have been affected by armed conflict; those with direct personal experience include 75% of the population, and most others report suffering a range of hardships. In total, almost the entire population (96%) has been affected in some way – either personally or because of the wider consequences of armed conflict.[138]

Culture

Overview

Phoenicia and its colonies
The original design

The area including modern Lebanon has been home to various civilizations and cultures for thousands of years. Originally home to the Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon's diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country's festivals, musical styles and literature as well as cuisine. When compared to the rest of the Southwest Asia, Lebanese society as a whole is well educated and 91%[139] of the population was literate. Despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they “share an almost common culture. . . .”.[117] Lebanese Arabic is universally spoken while food, music, and literature are deep-rooted “in wider Mediterranean and Levantine norms. . . .”.[117] Lebanese society is very modern and similar to certain cultures of Mediterranean Europe as the country is "linked ideologically and culturally to Europe through France, and its uniquely diverse ethnic and religious composition [create] a rare environment that [is] at once Arab and European.[140] It is often considered as Europe's gateway to Western Asia as well as Asia's gateway to the Western World.[141]

Arts and literature

Khalil Gibran (April 1913)

By the turn of the 20th century, Beirut was vying with Cairo to be the major center for modern Arab thought, with many newspapers, magazines and literary societies. Additionally, Beirut became a thriving epicenter of Armenian culture with varied productions[142] that was exported to the Armenian diaspora.

In literature, Khalil Gibran, who was born in Bsharri, is particularly known for his book The Prophet, which has been translated into more than twenty different languages.[143] Several contemporary Lebanese writers have also achieved international success; including Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf, Hanan al-Shaykh, and Georges Schehadé.

In art, Moustafa Farroukh was one of Lebanon's most prominent painters of the 20th century. Formally trained in Rome and Paris, he exhibited in venues from Paris to New York to Beirut over his career.

Many more interesting and contemporary artists are currently active, such as Walid Raad a contemporary media artist currently residing in New York.

Two contemporary art exhibition centers, the Beirut Art Center (located in an industrial building painted in white near the Beirut river) and the Beirut Exhibition center (a very modern glass structure) in the BIEL area reflect the vibrant Lebanese contemporary art scene. These two centers are intended to host exhibitions and are a must in the world of international as well as local contemporary art.

Many art galleries also testify to the liveliness of the local art scene, exhibiting the works of new and talented artists such as Ayman Baalbaki, Akram Zaatari, Marwan Sahmarani, Nadim Asfar, Lamia Joreige, Jean Marc Nahas and many others.

These galleries are run by passionate gallerists such as Saleh Barakat (Agial), Neyla Kettaneh Kunigk, Fadi Mogabgab, Galerie Janine Rubeiz or the resounding Ayyam gallery whose owner is a Syrian national, one of the promoters of artistic renewal in this neighboring country.

Located in Foch Street in the Solidere area, FFA Private Bank is home to many temporary exhibitions of contemporary local artists as well as to a permanent display of paintings by Lebanese artists (Sahmarani, Baalbaki, Hannibal Srouji...) or foreign artists such as Fabienne Arietti's "Nasdaq". At the entrance of the bank's building (typical of the architecture of the old Beirut with a futuristic interior design), visitors are greeted by a strange security guard, piece of work from "ultra-realistic" New York sculptor Marc Sijan.

A Jean Dubuffet's huge sculpture can also be seen when visiting the atrium of Bank Audi Plaza, located in a beautiful contemporary building designed by Kevin Dash. By Strolling through the streets of the city one can find some interesting works such as sculptures of Michel Basbous in the Bank of Lebanon street.

Another initiative is Ashkal alwan, a Lebanese association for plastic arts and a platform for the creation and exchange of artistic practices.

It was founded by Christine Tohme, Marwan Rechmaoui, Rania Tabbara, Mustapha Yamout and Leila Mroueh Initially, Ashkal Alwan promoted and introduced the work of artists who have been engaged in critical art practices within the context of post-war Lebanon.

The Home Works Forum is a multidisciplinary platform that takes place in Beirut, Lebanon about every other year. it has evolved into one of the most vibrant platforms for research and exchange on cultural practices in the region and beyond.

The main languages being taught in schools and universities are listed as: Arabic, French and English.

Festivals

Music festivals, often hosted at historical sites, are a customary element of Lebanese culture.[144] Among the most famous are Baalbeck International Festival, Byblos International Festival, Beiteddine International Festival, Broumana Festival, Batroun Festival, Dhour Chwer Festival and Tyr Festival.[144][145] These festivals are promoted by Lebanon's Ministry of Tourism, Lebanon Hosts about 15 Concerts from International Performers Each Year Ranking Number one for Nightlife in the Middle east and 6th Worldwide.[146]

Holidays

Lebanon has Christian and Muslim holidays; national holidays are also observed.

National flag

The national flag of Lebanon, created shortly after independence in 1943,[147] consists of three horizontal bands; the top and bottom bands are red and of equivalent size, each consisting of 1/4 of the flag's surface, while the larger, middle band is white with a green cedar tree fixed at its center and consists of 1/2 of the flag's surface.[1] The cedar tree, an emblem of Lebanon, symbolizes survival,[148] the white band symbolises the eternal snow on its mountain peaks and the peace that Lebanon seeks. Red symbolizes the blood shed for independence. The top and bottom of the cedar touch the edge of both red bands.[149]

Music

Music is pervasive in Lebanese society.[150] While traditional folk music remains popular in Lebanon, modern music reconciling Western and traditional Arabic styles, pop, and fusion are rapidly advancing in popularity.[151] Radio stations feature a variety of music, including traditional Lebanese, classical Arabic, Armenian [152] and modern French, English, American, and Latin tunes.[153] Prominent traditional musicians include Fairuz, an icon during the civil war, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Majida El Roumi, and Najwa Karam who built an international audience for the genre.[150] Marcel Khalife, a musician who blends classical Arab music with modern sounds, boasts immense[154] popularity for his politically charged lyrics.[150][151] Distinguished pop artists include Nancy Ajram, Haifa Wehbe, The 4 Cats—an all-female group—, Fadl Shaker, Elissa and Mika.[150]

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Lebanon's music industry is growing and could attain leading status in the region.[155] Lebanese performers are celebrated throughout the Arab World,[156] and with the notable exception of Egypt enjoy increasing regional popularity.[155] Rising demand for Arabic music outside Western Asia has provided Lebanese artists with a small but significant global audience. However, widespread piracy continues to inhibit the music industry's growth.[155]

Sports

Both summer and winter sports thrive in Lebanon because of the unique geography. In autumn and spring, for example, it is possible to go skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon. At the competitive level, basketball and football are among Lebanon’s most popular sports. In recent years, Lebanon has hosted the AFC Asian Cup and the Pan Arab Games.

Lebanon has six ski resorts, with opportunities also available for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. In the summer, skilifts can be used to access hiking trails, with views stretching as far as Cyprus to the west and Syria to the east on clear days. Canoeing, cycling, rafting, climbing, swimming, sailing and caving are among the other common leisure sports in Lebanon. Adventure and extreme sports are also possible throughout the country. The Beirut Marathon is held every fall, drawing top runners from Lebanon and abroad. Race day is promoted as a fun, family event, and it has become a tradition for many to participate in costumes or outlandish clothing.

But the most important of sports, and the most popular in Lebanon is basketball, as the Lebanese National Team prevailed to qualify for the FIBA World Championship 3 times in a row. Considered as one of the basketball power houses in Asia, Lebanon was able to defeat strong teams like Venezuela and shell-shock France in what was considered to be the upset of the tournament, throwing an amazing encounter proving to be one of the most competitive teams. In 2010 FIBA World Championship, Lebanon defeated Canada national men's basketball team but failed to qualify to the second round. Fadi El Khatib is considered to be the best Lebanese basketball player of all time. Dominant Basketball teams in Lebanon are Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut, who are the current Arab champions, Club Sagesse who were able to earn the Asian and Arab championships before, along with Champville SC, Al Mouttahed Tripoli, and Hoops Club,and Byblos.

Dance is also a popular activity in Lebanon that may fall under the category of 'sports'.

Lebanon hosted the 2009 Jeux de la Francophonie from 27 September to 6 October.

Prominent Lebanese bodybuilders include Samir Bannout, Mohammad Bannout and Ahmad Haidar.

Rugby league has enjoyed growth in Lebanon with a seven team domestic competition. An international team made up of domestic players recently[when?] played a two match tour in Dubai. The Lebanon national rugby league team took part in the 2009 European Cup. After narrowly failing to qualify for the final, the team defeated Ireland to finish 3rd in the tournament.

Hazem El Masri, who is the National Rugby League's all time highest points scorer, moved from Lebanon to Australia as a child and has represented Lebanon at international level, including playing at the 2000 Rugby League World Cup

Theatre

Theatre has existed in Lebanon since the first musical plays of Maroun Naccache, which were written and performed in the mid-1800s and are considered the birth of modern Arab theatre.[157]

Media

Lebanon is not only a regional center of media production but also the most liberal and free in the Arab world.[158] According to Press freedom's Reporters Without Borders, "the media have more freedom in Lebanon than in any other Arab country".[159] Despite its small population and geographic size, Lebanon plays an influential role in the production of information in the Arab world and is "at the core of a regional media network with global implications".[160]

Film

Cinema of Lebanon, according to film critic and historian, Roy Armes, was the only other cinema in the Arabic-speaking region, beside Egypt's, that could amount to a national cinema.[161] Cinema in Lebanon has been in existence since the 1920s, and the country has produced over 180 films,[162] some of which are:

Internet

Lebanon was one of the first countries in the Arabic-speaking world to introduce internet and Beirut's newspapers were the first in the region to provide readers with web versions of their newspapers.[163] By 1996, three newspapers from Lebanon were online, Al Anwar, Annahar, and Assafir, and by 2000, more than 200 websites provided news out of Lebanon.[164]

Publishing

The history of publishing in Lebanon dates back to 1610 when the first printing press was established at the Convent of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya in the Kadisha Valley, making its first publication, Qozhaya Psalter -the Bible's book of psalms, which was in both Syriac and Arabic, the first publication in the Middle East[165]. One of the first Arabic-script, printing presses in the region was founded in 1734 at The Convent of St. John in Khinshara where it remained in operation until1899[166]. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Beirut had become not only a multi-religious, commercial center but also an intellectual one, especially after the establishment of two private, higher education institutes, the American University of Beirut in 1864 and the Saint Joseph University in 1875, and it was this period that marked the emergence of Beirut's prolific press.[167] Lebanese publishers and journalists, along with Syrians, also played a major role in establishing the Egyptian press in the nineteenth century.[168] After independence, Beirut emerged as the epicenter of publishing in the Arab world, characterized by free and liberal media and literary scenes.[169] In the 1940s, Beirut was home to 39 newspapers as well as 137 periodicals and journals that were published in three languages.[169] Beirut also hosted the first book fair in the Arab world in 1956. By the early sixties, there were close to a hundred publishers and more than 250 printing presses in Lebanon.[169] Armenian publications also flourished in Beirut with over 44 publications, including dailies and periodicals.[170] Authors from Syria, Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab world found refuge in Lebanon's free and liberal publishing industry.[169] Lebanon's press became a huge industry despite the country's small size and has remained a haven for Arabic publishing.[168] The establishment of modern printing presses and sophisticated book distribution channels made Beirut a regional publishing leader, and gave the Lebanese publishers a dominant role in Arab publishing.[171] Lebanon hosts annually two important regional publishing events, the Beirut Book Fair and the Beirut Francophone Book Fair.[172]

Television

Television was introduced in Lebanon in 1959, with the launch of two privately-owned stations, CLT and Télé Orient that merged in 1977 into Télé Liban.[173] Lebanon has ten national television channels, most channels in Lebanon are affiliated or supported by certain political parties or alliances.

See also


Notes

  1. ^ Republic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among the citizens of Lebanon.

References

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Further reading

  • Arkadiusz, Plonka. L’idée de langue libanaise d’après Sa‘īd ‘Aql, Paris, Geuthner, 2004 (French) ISBN 2-7053-3739-3
  • Firzli, Nicola Y. Al-Baath wa-Lubnân [Arabic only] ("The Baath and Lebanon"). Beirut: Dar-al-Tali'a Books, 1973
  • Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon. New York: Nation Books, 2002.
  • Glass, Charles, "Tribes with Flags: A Dangerous Passage Through the Chaos of the Middle East", Atlantic Monthly Press (New York) and Picador (London), 1990 ISBN 0-436-18130-4
  • Hitti Philip K. History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine, Vol. 2 (2002) (ISBN 1-931956-61-8)
  • Holst, Sanford. Phoenicians: Lebanon's Epic Heritage. Los Angeles: Cambridge and Boston Press, 2005.
  • Norton, Augustus R. Amal and the Shi'a: Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon. Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1987.
  • Sobelman, Daniel. New Rules of the Game: Israel and Hizbollah After the Withdrawal From Lebanon, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv University, 2004.
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Salibi, Kamal. A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
  • Schlicht, Alfred. The role of Foreign Powers in the History of Syria and Lebanon 1799–1861 in: Journal of Asian History 14 (1982)

External links


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  • Lebanon, IN — U.S. city in Indiana Population (2000): 14222 Housing Units (2000): 6202 Land area (2000): 7.282579 sq. miles (18.861792 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 7.282579 sq. miles (18.861792 sq. km) FIPS …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Lebanon, KS — U.S. city in Kansas Population (2000): 303 Housing Units (2000): 204 Land area (2000): 0.317128 sq. miles (0.821357 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.317128 sq. miles (0.821357 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Lebanon, KY — U.S. city in Kentucky Population (2000): 5718 Housing Units (2000): 2555 Land area (2000): 4.410156 sq. miles (11.422251 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.004396 sq. miles (0.011385 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.414552 sq. miles (11.433636 sq. km) FIPS …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Lebanon, MO — U.S. city in Missouri Population (2000): 12155 Housing Units (2000): 5745 Land area (2000): 13.628231 sq. miles (35.296956 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.031445 sq. miles (0.081442 sq. km) Total area (2000): 13.659676 sq. miles (35.378398 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Lebanon, NE — U.S. village in Nebraska Population (2000): 70 Housing Units (2000): 48 Land area (2000): 0.160348 sq. miles (0.415300 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.160348 sq. miles (0.415300 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Lebanon, NH — U.S. city in New Hampshire Population (2000): 12568 Housing Units (2000): 5707 Land area (2000): 40.362794 sq. miles (104.539152 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.994132 sq. miles (2.574790 sq. km) Total area (2000): 41.356926 sq. miles (107.113942 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

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