Lebanese people

Lebanese people

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Lebanese people

Fairuz·Carlos Slim Helú·Musa al-Sadr
population = 3 million in Lebanon 15 million elsewhere in the world. [ [http://cedarfree.blogspot.com/2006/10/lebanese-diaspora.html Free Cedar: The Lebanese Diaspora ] ]
region1 = flag|Brazil
pop1 = 7 million
ref1 = lower| [ [http://www.estado.com.br/editorias/2006/07/30/int- Intelectuais de origem libanesa no Brasil descrevem o seu luto :: TXT Estado ] ]
region2 = flag|Lebanon
pop2 = 3,971,941 (July 2008 estimate)
ref2 = lower| [ [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/le.html#People CIA - The World Factbook - Lebanon ] ]
region3 = flag|Argentina
pop3 = 1,000,000
ref3 = lower| [ [http://www.lp.gov.lb/archive/english/presarvisit.htm - Argentinian President's visit to the Lebanese Parliament ] ]
region4 = flag|United States
pop4 = 440,000
ref4 = lower| [ [http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-23.pdf The Arab Population: 2000 ] ]
region5 = flag|Mexico
pop5 = 400,000
ref5 = [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/07/08/do0806.xml The biggest enchilada] , Telegraph]
region6 = flag|Australia
pop6 = 181,000
ref6 = lower| [ [http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/ABSNavigation/prenav/ViewData?breadcrumb=POTLD&method=Place%20of%20Usual%20Residence&subaction=-1&issue=2006&producttype=Census%20Tables&documentproductno=0&textversion=false&documenttype=Details&collection=Census&javascript=true&topic=Ancestry&action=404&productlabel=Ancestry%20(full%20classification%20list)%20by%20Sex&order=1&period=2006&tabname=Details&areacode=0&navmapdisplayed=true& 2006 Census Table : Australia ] ]
region7 = flag|Canada
pop7 = 134,358-250,000
ref7 = [ [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000263 Arabs ] ] [ [http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/middleeast-crisis/canada-lebanon.html Canada and Lebanon, a special tie] , CBC News]
languages = Vernacular Lebanese Arabic & Cypriot Maronite Arabic Traditional Phoenician, succeeded by Aramaic Liturgical Maronite Christians: Aramaic (Syriac) Muslims: Arabic (Qur'anic Arabic) Jews: Hebrew and Aramaic Diaspora Predominantly Portuguese, Spanish, English and French.
religions = Predominantly Maronite Christianity1 Large Muslim minority2 (mostly Shi'a3 and Sunni) Other Christian denominations including Greek Orthodox and Protestant. Other Muslim denominations, including Alawites and Druze4. Others, including non-religious, atheists, agnostics, and Jews.
related = Other Levantines Arabs, Assyrians and other Semites
#Lebanese Christians comprise a majority of all Lebanese, but represent only a large minority within Lebanon.
#Lebanese Muslims of all denominations represent a majority within Lebanon, but comprise only a large minority of all Lebanese.
#Lebanese Shi'ite Muslims hold the plurality among religious groups within Lebanon.
#In Lebanon, Lebanese Druze are officially categorized as a Muslim denomination by the Lebanese government.

The Lebanese people ( _ar. الشعب اللبناني, "el shaab el libnene") are a Middle Eastern people originating in the country of Lebanon, and this is also applied to people who lived in Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state. The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a rich blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years.

The Lebanese have traditionally spoken only languages of the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family throughout their history, starting with Phoenician, a Canaanite language most closely related to Hebrew and spoken by the earliest known inhabitants of what is today Lebanon; the Phoenicians. Phoenicia would see its land and people pass through several waves of foreign rulers, at least two of which would radically transform the cultural, linguistic and religious landscape of the country, as well as the identity of the people; Aramization, and centuries later, Arabization.

One curious fact about the Lebanese people is that most of them do not live in Lebanon. Historically an entrepreneurial people,huh the Lebanese have always travelled the world, many of them settling permanently, most notably in the last two centuries. Today, there are approximately 4 million people in Lebanon and an estimated 15 million people of Lebanese descent elsewhere in the world, the majority of them in Brazil. [ [http://www.brazzilmag.com/content/view/1877/49/ Brazil - Brazzil Mag - Brazil Has More Lebanese than Lebanon ] ]

Religiously, Lebanese Christians comprise the overwhelming majority [http://www.cnewacanada.ca/ecc-bodypg-ca.aspx?eccpageID=56&IndexView=alpha] of Lebanese people worldwide, according to some estimates, outnumbering Lebanese Muslims (both Sunni and Shi'a) at a 3:1 ratioFact|date=August 2008, and concentrated principally in the diaspora. [http://www.hamline.edu/cla/academics/international_studies/diaspora2002/Lebanese/Paper.htm] Reduced in numbers and estimated to have lost their status as a majority in Lebanon itself, largely as a result of their emigration, [http://www.cnewacanada.ca/ecc-bodypg-ca.aspx?eccpageID=56&IndexView=alpha] Christians still remain one of the principal religious groups in the country.


As with the rest of the Fertile Crescent (or Levant) and most of the rest of the Middle East, Aramization transformed Lebanon into an Aramaic-speaking and identifying region, abandoning their indigenous Phoenician language and cultural norms. Most of the population would also abandon the polytheistic Canaanite religion of the Phoenicians in favour of Christianity.

Aramaic cultural norms would remain dominant until the commencement of the era of Arabization which transformed not only Lebanon, but most of the Middle East and North Africa during the Arabian Muslim conquest. It is from the Arabization of Lebanon that the people receive the strongest cultural and linguistic imprint to date, though most would remain Christian. As a result of this, in modern discourse, the Lebanese are often referred to as Arabs, or as forming part of the Arab world.

Immediately prior to Arabization, the people residing in Lebanon — both those who would become Muslim and the vast majority which would remain Christian, along with the tiny Jewish minority — still spoke a dialect of Aramaic. [ [http://www.walidphares.com/artman/publish/article_58.shtml Review of Phares Book ] ] However, since at least the 15th century, Lebanese of all faiths have been Arabic-speaking, [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=RL5AAAAAIAAJ&q=%22maronites+have+been+speaking+arabic&dq=%22maronites+have+been+speaking+arabic&pgis=1 The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon] By Michael C. Hudson, 1968] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ugpIAAAAMAAJ&q=%22maronites+spoke&dq=%22maronites+spoke&pgis=1 Lebanon: Its Stand in History Among the Near East Countries] By Salim Wakim, 1996.] or more specifically, speakers of Lebanese Arabic. Among the Lebanese Maronites, Aramaic (Syriac) still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church. [ [http://www.stgeorgesa.org/ St. George Maronite Church ] ] As the second of two liturgical languages of Judaism, Aramaic was also retained as a language in the sphere of religion among Lebanese Jews. Among Lebanese Muslims, however, Aramaic was lost twice, once in the shift to Arabic in the vernacular and again in the religious sphere, since Arabic is also the liturgical language of Islam.

Some Lebanese, mainly Christians, identify themselves as Phoenician rather than Arab, seeking to draw "on the Phoenician past to try to forge an identity separate from the prevailing Arab culture". [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0559096520070910] They argue that Arabization merely represented a shift to the Arabic language as the vernacular of the Lebanese people, and that no actual shift of ethnic identity, much less ancestral origins, occurred. The argument based on the premise of ancestry having recently been vindicated by emerging genetic studies as discussed below. Thus, "Phoenicianists" consider the "Arabs" of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Iraq, and all other "Arabs" to be different peoples, and therefore an Arab ethnic identity redundant or inapplicable. Lehe nationals in particular tend to emphasize aspects of Lebanon's non-Arab history as a mark of respect to encompass all of Lebanon's historical stages, instead of only that which began during the Arab conquests, which is an attitude that prevails in the rest of the Arab world.

Among the Arabists, most don't dispute the ancestral origins of the Lebanese or disagree with acknowledging those roots. Their point of contention is that Phoenicianism disregards and often altogether seems to relegate the reality of the Arab cultural and linguistic heritage of Lebanon and the Lebanese, given the extent to which the culture and customs of today's Lebanese people are indebted to that period of Lebanon's history. This is argued especially when the Arab cultural elements are quantified against the elements that can be attributed to have originated prior to, and survived, the Arab period into the modern time and culture. Therefore, they see the notion of deriving a Lebanese identity based on Arabism as valid, and thus many Lebanese, whether Muslim, Christian or other, do identify as Arabs.

In light of this "old controversy about identity" [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0559096520070910] , some Lebanese prefer to see Lebanon, Lebanese culture and themselves as part of a "Mediterranean" or "Levantine" civilization, in a concession to Lebanon's various layers of heritage, both indigenous, foreign non-Arab, and Arab. Arab influence, nevertheless, applies to virtually all aspects of the modern Lebanese culture.

Population numbers

The total population of Lebanese people is estimated at 18 million. Of these, the vast majority, or 15 million, are in the diaspora (outside of Lebanon), and less than 4 million resident citizens of Lebanon itself.


There are approximately 4 million Lebanese in Lebanon. In addition to this figure, in Lebanon there are an additional 1 million foreign workers and about 400,000 Palestinian refugees. [ [http://www.uschamber.com/portal/lebanon/investment_overview Business Portal to Lebanon] ]


The Lebanese diaspora consists of approximately 14 million, both Lebanese-born living abroad and those born-abroad of Lebanese decent. The majority of the Lebanese in the diaspora are Christians [http://www.hamline.edu/cla/academics/international_studies/diaspora2002/Lebanese/Paper.htm] , disproportionately so in the Americas where the vast majority reside. An estimate figure show that they represent about 75% of the Lebanese in total.

The largest number of Lebanese is to be found in Brazil, where there is an estimated 6 million people of Lebanese descent. Large numbers also reside elsewhere in the Americas, most notably in the United States and Mexico with close to half a million each. In the rest of the Americas, significant communities are found in Argentina, [ [http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Asia-and-Oceania/Lebanon-MIGRATION.html Lebanon - Migration] ] Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with almost every other Latin American country having at least a small presence.

In Africa, the Ivory Coast is home to over 100,000 Lebanese. [ [http://countrystudies.us/ivory-coast/72.htm Ivory Coast - The Levantine Community] ] Australia hosts over 180,000. In the Arab world, the Gulf States harbour around 400,000 Lebanese. [ [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/9cc784a7002d9eb73b339b4d2c840090.htm One in three Lebanese want to leave] , Reuters] Lebanese also reside in Canada and the countries of the European Union.

Currently, Lebanon provides no automatic right to Lebanese citizenship for emigrants who lost their citizenship upon acquiring the citizenship of their host country, nor for the descendants of emigrants born abroad. This situation disproportionately affects Christians. Recently, the Maronite Institution of Emigrants called for the establishment of an avenue by which emigrants who lost their citizenship may regain it, or their overseas-born descendants (if they so wish) may acquire it. [http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=94429]


Lebanese Christians represent an overwhelming majority [http://www.cnewacanada.ca/ecc-bodypg-ca.aspx?eccpageID=56&IndexView=alpha] of Lebanese people worldwide, outnumbering Muslims (both Sunni and Shi'a) at an estimated 3:1 ratioFact|date=August 2008. Although reduced in numbers and estimated to have lost their status as a majority in Lebanon itself, mostly as a result of emigration and recently due to higher Muslim birth rates, Christians remain one of the principal religious groups in the country.

Lebanese Muslims in Lebanon are estimated to now represent the majority, and they are principally Shi'a and Sunni. Approximately 30% of Lebanon's population, and representing the country's plurality, are Shi'a Muslims, approximately another 20% are Sunni Muslims, and another approximate 25% are Maronite Christians. The remainder is composed of other Christian and Muslim denominations and other religious groups.


In recent years efforts have been made by various genetic researchers, both based in Lebanon and abroad, to identify the ancestral origins of the Lebanese people, their relationship to each other, and to other neighbouring and distant human populations. Like most DNA studies attempting to identify the origins of a given human population, and any migration patterns in or out of the region which may have influenced their genetic make-up, these studies have focused on two segments of the human genome, the Y chromosome (inherited only by males and passed only by fathers) and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, which passes only from mother to child). Both segments are unaffected by recombination, thus they provide an indicator of paternal and maternal origins, respectively.

Results of research yielded so far appear to coincide with the history of Lebanon, corroborating that, naturally, the Lebanese trace descent from the region's earliest known inhabitants, the Phoenicians, regardless of their membership to any of Lebanon's different religious communities today. "The genetic marker which identifies descendants of the ancient Levantines is found among members of all of Lebanon's religious communities" [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0559096520070910] as well as some Syrians and Palestinians. By identifying the ancient type of DNA attributed to the Phoenicians, geneticist Pierre Zalloua was also able to chart their spread out of the eastern Mediterranean. These markers were found in unusually high proportions in non-Lebanese samples from other parts of the "Mediterranean coast where the Phoenicians are known to have established colonies, such as Carthage in today's Tunisia." [http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0559096520070910] The markers were also found among samples of Maltese and Spaniards, where the Phoenicians were also known to have established colonies.

Beyond this, more recent finds have also been of interest to geneticists and Lebanese anthropologists alike — which indicate foreign non-Levantine admixture from some unexpected but not surprising sources, even if only in a small proportion of the samples. Like a story written in DNA, it recounts some of the major historical events seen in the land today known as Lebanon.

Among the more interesting genetic markers to be found are those which seem to indicate that a small proportion of Lebanese Christians (2%) and a small proportion of Lebanese Muslims are descended, in part, from European Crusader Christians and Arabian Muslims respectively. The author states that the "study tells us that some [European Crusaders] did not just conquer and leave behind castles. They left a subtle genetic connection as well." [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-crusaders-dna.html] In much the same manner, some of the Arabian Muslims did not just conquer and leave behind mosques.

It was during a broader survey of Middle Eastern populations conducted for the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society that the findings were stumbled upon. "We noticed some interesting lineages in the dataset. Among Lebanese Christians, in particular, we found higher frequency [2%] of a genetic marker — R1b — that we typically see only in Western Europe." [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-crusaders-dna.html] The lineage was seen at that "higher" frequency only in the Christian populations in Lebanon, even though among the Muslims it was not altogether absent. "The study matched the western European Y-chromosome lineage against thousands of people in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom." [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-crusaders-dna.html] On the other hand, in the Lebanese Muslim population a similar pattern, this time associated with genetic markers from Arabia, was also observed in "higher" preferential frequencies, although they too were not altogether absent in the Christian population. "We found that a lineage that is very common in the Arabian Peninsula — Hg J*— is found in slightly higher frequencies preferentially in the Muslim population." [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-crusaders-dna.html] The author of the study added that the findings "certainly doesn't undermine the similarities among the various Lebanese communities, but it does agree with oral tradition." [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080328-crusaders-dna.html]

Other unrelated studies have sought to establish relationships between the Lebanese people and other groups. At least one study by the International Institute of Anthropology in Paris, France, confirmed similarities in the Y-haplotype frequencies in Lebanese, Palestinian, and Sephardic Jewish men, identifying them as "three Near-Eastern populations sharing a common geographic origin." [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12820706] The study surveyed one Y-specific DNA polymorphism (p49/Taq I) in 54 Lebanese and 69 Palestinian males, and compared with the results found in 693 Jews from three distinct Jewish ethnic divisions; Mizrahi Jews, Sephardi Jews, and Ashkenazi Jews.

ee also

*Lebanese diaspora
*Arab diaspora

*List of Lebanese people
*Lebanese American
*Lebanese Australian
*Lebanese Brazilian
*Lebanese British
*Lebanese Canadian
*Lebanese Jamaican
*Sierra Leonean-Lebanese

External links

* [http://thejewsoflebanon.org The Jews of Lebanon]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lebanese People's Party — Infobox Political Party party name = Lebanese People s Party party leader = foundation = October 24, 1924 ideology = Communism international = headquarters = Lebanon colours = website = The Lebanese People s Party was the first formally organized …   Wikipedia

  • List of Lebanese people — This is a list of Lebanese people. The list has been ordered by Alphabetical order of Section names. No specific order was used within the sections.ActivistsActivists of Lebanese Descent* John Snow born Hanna Talj * James Zogby founder of Arab… …   Wikipedia

  • List of assassinated Lebanese people — This is a list of assassinated Lebanese political figures:*Dany Chamoun leader of National Liberal Party , son of Camille Chamoun, assassinated on Oct. 21, 1990 *Tony Frangieh Son of President Suleiman Frangieh. assassinated on June 13, 1978.… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese Civil War — The Martyr s Square statue in Beirut, 1982, during the civil war Date 13 A …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese Communist Party — الحزب الشيوعي اللبناني Lebanese Communist Party flag Leader …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese — is an adjective referring to matters related to the Republic of Lebanon, which is located on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Other meanings associated with this term are: *The Lebanese people ** ** ** *Anything relating to Lebanon:… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese nationalism — (or sometimes Maronite nationalism) is a nationalistic ideology that considers the Lebanese people, particularly Maronites, a distinguished nation independent from the Arab nation. It considers Lebanese sometimes a Phoenician and sometimes a… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese diaspora — Infobox Ethnic group group = Lebanese population = approx. 18 to 20 million region1 = flagcountry|Lebanon pop1 = 4,000,000 region2 = flagcountry|Brazil pop2 = 7,000,000 region3 = flagcountry|United States pop3 = 3,300,000 region4 =… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese American — Infobox Ethnic group John Abizaid • Ralph Nader • Tiffany • Vince Vaughn group =flagicon|Lebanon Lebanese Americans flagicon|USA population = 481,675 (3 million descendents) 0.16% of total population (2005) [ [http://www.factfinder.census.gov… …   Wikipedia

  • Lebanese Arabic — Infobox Language name=Lebanese Arabic familycolor=Afro Asiatic states=Lebanon fam2=Semitic fam3=West Semitic fam4=Central Semitic fam5=South Central Semitic fam6=Arabic script=Arabic alphabet nation= none agency= none iso2=ara iso3=apcLebanese or …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.