Geography of Lebanon

  History and explantion of the flag and the Cedar of Lebanon

Location: Middle East, bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria

Geographic coordinates: 33 50 N, 35 50 E

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Area: total: 10,452 sq km 

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; Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

Elevation extremes: lowest point : Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Jabal al Makmal 3,087 m

Natural resources: limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region

Land use: arable land : 21% permanent crops: 9% permanent pastures: 1% forests and woodland: 8% other: 61% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 860 sq km (1993 est.)

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, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note: Nahr al 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: 3,562,699 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (male 535,596; female 515,776)
15-64 years: 64% (male 1,084,121; female 1,196,678)
65 years and over: 6% (male 105,133; female 125,395) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.61% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 22.5 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 30.53 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.93 years
male: 68.34 years
female: 73.66 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.25 children born/woman (1999 est.)

noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Lebanese

Ethnic groups: Arab 55%, Levantine 40%, Armenian 4%, other 1%

Religions: Christian and Muslim. Christian (11 legally recognized Christian groups - 4 Orthodox Christian, 6 Catholic, 1 Protestant), Islam (5 legally recognized Islamic groups - Alawite or Nusayri, Druze, Isma'ilite, Shi'a, Sunni), Judaism.

Languages: Lebanese (spoken), Arabic (official), French (official), English, Armenian,

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 92.4% male: 94.7% female: 90.3% (1995 est.)


Country name: conventional long form: Lebanese Republic conventional short form: Lebanon. Local long form : Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah local short form: Libnen

Data code: LE

Government type: republic

National capital: Beirut

Administrative divisions: 5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Biqa', Al Janub, Ash Shamal, Bayrut, Jabal Lubnan

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

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 General Emile LAHOUD (since 24 Novemver 1998)
Prime Minister Michel AOUN (since September 1988 in exile after his removal in October 1990)

Head of Government :
Prime Minister Rafic Hariri

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).

Judicial branch: four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases)

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, AL, AMF, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OIC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green and brown cedar tree centered in the white band


Economy - overview: The 1975-91 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 has 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. Lebanon's economy has made impressive gains since  former Prime Minister HARIRI launched his $18 billion "Horizon 2000" reconstruction program in 1993. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994 and 7% in 1995 before Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 stunted economic activity. During 1992-96, annual inflation fell from more than 170% to 10%, and foreign exchange reserves jumped to more than $4 billion from $1.4 billion. Burgeoning capital inflows have fueled foreign payments surpluses, and the Lebanese pound has remained relatively stable. Progress also has been made in rebuilding Lebanon's war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. Solidere, a $2-billion firm, is managing the reconstruction of Beirut's central business district, the stock market reopened in January 1996, and international banks and insurance companies are returning. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. The government has had to fund reconstruction by tapping foreign exchange reserves and boosting borrowing. The stalled peace process and ongoing violence in southern Lebanon could spawn wider hostilities that would disrupt vital capital inflows. Furthermore, the gap between rich and poor has widened since HARIRI took office, sowing grassroots dissatisfaction over the skewed distribution of reconstruction's benefits and leading the government to shift its focus from rebuilding infrastructure to improving social conditions.
The government of Dr. Hoss tried to reduce Lebanon's national debt through various austerity measures. The state of the economy was a major factor in the re-election of Hariri in 2000 who was believed to be able to stimulate the economy.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$15.8 billion (1998 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1998 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$4,500 (1998 est.)

GDP—composition by sector: agriculture: 4% industry: 23% services: 73% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (1998 est.)

Labor force: total: 1.3 million plus as many as 1 million foreign workers by occupation: services 60%, industry 28%, agriculture 12% (1998 est.)

Unemployment rate: 18% (1997 est.)

Budget: revenues: $4.9 billion expenditures: $7.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $1 billion (1998 est.)

Industries: banking; food processing; textiles, jewelry; cement, oil refining, chemicals, metal fabricating, wood products

Electricity - production: 9.7 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 90.72% hydro: 9.28% nuclear: 0% other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 9.629 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 608 million kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: citrus, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco, hemp (hashish); sheep, goats

Exports: total value : $1 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.) commodities: paper and paper products 26%, food stuffs 16%, textiles and textile products 10%, jewelry 8%, metals and metal products 8%, electrical equipment and products 8%, chemical products 6%, transport vehicles 4% (1995) partners: Saudi Arabia 13%, Switzerland 12%, UAE 11%, Syria 9%, US 5%, Jordan 5% (1995)

Imports: $5.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.) commodities : machinery and transport equipment 28%, foodstuffs 20%, consumer goods 19%, chemicals 9%, textiles 5%, metals 5%, fuels 3% (1995)

Imports - partners: Italy 12%, France 10%, US 9%, Germany 9%, Switzerland 6%, Japan, UK, Syria (1998)

Debt - external: $8.8 billion (1999 est.)

Economic aid: recipient: aid pledges of $3.5 billion for 1997-2001

Currency: 1 Lebanese pound (£L) = 100 piasters

Exchange rates: Lebanese pounds (£L) per US$1 - 1,508.0 (January 1999), 1,516.1 (1998), 1,539.5 (1997), 1,571.4 (1996), 1,621.4 (1995), 1,680.1 (1994)1,741.4 (1993), 1,712.8 (1992)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones - main lines in use: 330,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 120,000 (1995)

Telephone system: telecommunications system severely damaged by war; rebuilding well underway domestic: primarily microwave radio relay and cable international: 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 5, FM 3, shortwave 1 note: government is licensing a limited number of the more than 100 AM and FM stations operated sporadically by various factions that sprang up during the war

Radios: 2.37 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 13 note: government is licensing a limited number of TV stations operated by various factions

Televisions: 1.1 million (1993 est.)


Railways: total: 222 km standard gauge : 222 km 1.435-m (from Beirut to the Syrian border)

Highways: total: 6,270 km paved

Pipelines: crude oil 72 km (none in operation)

Ports and harbors: Al Batrun, Al Mina, An Naqurah, Antilyas, Az Zahrani, Beirut, Jubayl, Juniyah, Shikka, Sidon, Tripoli, Tyre

Merchant marine: total: 68 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 346,029 GRT/536,861 DWT ships by type: bulk 8, cargo 44, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, combination ore/oil 1, container 4, livestock carrier 4, roll-on/roll-off 2, vehicle carrier 3 (1999 est.)

Airports: 9 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways: total: 7
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m : 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 2 (1999 est.)


Military branches: Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF; includes Army, Navy, and Air Force)

Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 957,729 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 592,264 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $500 million (FY98)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4% (FY98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: Israeli troops occupying southern Lebanon since June 1982 withdrew in May 2000 but still occupy the Shebaa Farms region of southern Lebanon; Syrian occupation troops in northern, central, and eastern Lebanon since October 1976.

Illicit drugs: small illicit producer of hashish and heroin for the international drug trade; hashish production is shipped to Western Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America; a key locus of cocaine processing and trafficking; a Lebanese/Syrian eradication campaign started in the early 1990s has practically eliminated the opium and cannabis crops.

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