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الجمهورية اللبنانية
Al-Jumhūrīyyah al-Lubnānīyyah
Lebanese Republic
Flag of Lebanon Coat of arms of Lebanon
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemLebanese National Anthem
Location of Lebanon
(and largest city)
33°54′N 35°32′E / 33.9°N 35.533°E / 33.9; 35.533
Official languages Arabic, French (administrative status)
Other common languages Armenian, English, French, Syriac
Demonym Lebanese
Government Confessionalist,
Parliamentary republic
 -  President Michel Suleiman
 -  Prime Minister Fouad Siniora
 -  Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri
Independence from France 
 -  Declared 26 November 1941 
 -  Recognized 22 November 1943 
 -  Total 10,452 km2 (166th)
4,035 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.6
 -  2007 estimate 4,099,000[1] (123th)
 -  Density 401/km2 (25th)
948/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $48.896 billion[2] (84th)
 -  Per capita $12,704[2] (67th)
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $30.903 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $8,029[2] 
HDI (2006) 0.796 (medium) (78th)
Currency Lebanese pound (LBP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .lb
Calling code 961

Lebanon (IPA: /ˈlɛbənɒn/ or IPA: /ˈlɛbənən/ Arabic: لبنان Lubnān), officially the Republic of Lebanon[3] or Lebanese Republic[4] (الجمهورية اللبنانية), is a country in Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. Due to its sectarian diversity, Lebanon evolved in 1942 a unique political system, known as confessionalism, based on a community-based power-sharing mechanism.[5] It was created when the ruling French mandatory powers expanded the borders of the former autonomous Otoman Mount Lebanon district that was mostly populated by Maronite Catholics and Druze. The red stripes on the flag means self- sacrifice and the white stripe symbolizes the snow- capped peaks of their mountains.

Lebanon is the historic home of the Phoenicians, a maritime culture which flourished for more than 3,000 years (3700-450 BC). Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five provinces that comprise present-day Lebanon were mandated to France. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946.[6]

Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the country enjoyed a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, and banking.[7] It is considered one of the banking capitals of Western Asia, and during its heyday was known to some as the "Switzerland of the East" due to its financial power and diversity at the time. Lebanon also attracted large numbers of tourists[8] to the point that the capital Beirut became widely referred to as the "self-proclaimed Paris of the East." Immediately following the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.[9]

Until July 2006, a considerable degree of stability had been achieved throughout much of the country, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete,[10] and an increasing number of foreign tourists were pouring into Lebanon's resorts.[8] This was until the one month long 2006 Lebanon War, between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, which caused significant civilian death and serious damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure. The conflict lasted from 12 July 2006 until a cessation of hostilities call, by the UN Security Council, went into effect on 14 August 2006.[11] After some turbulent political times, Lebanon was again able to revive and restablize its economy and government, though the overall situation remains precarious.


[edit] Etymology

Faraya, Mount Lebanon

The name Lebanon ("Lubnān" in standard Arabic; "Libnén" in the local dialect) comes from the Aramaic (and common West Semitic) root "LBN", meaning "white",[12] which could be regarded as a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon.[13] Other interpretations of the name are "Leb" (heart in Syriac) and (a)non (God) or "the Heart of God".[14] Occurrences of the name have been found in three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh (May be as early as 2100 BC), the texts of the library of Ebla (2400 BC), and 71 times in the Old Testament[13].[15][16] The name is recorded in Ancient Egyptian as Rmnn, where R stood for Canaanite L.[17]

[edit] History

Sarcophagus of Ahiram, king of Byblos, now in the National Museum of Beirut
Inscription in Greek on one of the tombs found in the Roman-Byzantine necropolis in Tyre

[edit] Ancient history

The earliest known settlements in Lebanon date back to earlier than 5000 BC. Kassem Nayif archaeologists have discovered in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world,[18] remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars which are evidence of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.[19]

Lebanon was the homeland of the Phoenicians, a seafaring people that spread across the Mediterranean before the rise of Cyrus the Great.[20] 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 Persian, Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Seljuks, Mamluks, Crusader, and Ottoman.

[edit] French mandate and independence

Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, in a region known as Greater Syria,[21] until 1918 when the area became a part of the French Mandate of Syria following World War I. On 1 September 1920, France formed the State of Greater Lebanon as one of several ethnic enclaves within Syria.[22] Lebanon was a largely Christian (mainly Maronite) enclave but also included areas containing many Muslims and Druze. On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. The Republic was afterward a separate entity from Syria (related to the country Syria) but still administered under the French Mandate of Syria.

Lebanon gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany.[23] 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.

The flag of Greater Lebanon (1920-1943)

After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under various political pressures from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle decided to recognize 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 accepted 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, and its prime minister be Sunni Muslim.[24]

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.

[edit] 1948 Arab-Israeli war

In May 1948, Lebanon was among the five Arab states that invaded Israel with the declared intent of destroying the newly-declared country. (See for example the statement by Jamal Husseini, spokesman for the Arab Higher Committee, who proclaimed that Arab countries would retake "the soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood." Quoted in Hurewitz, J.C., The Struggle for Palestine, Shocken Books, 1976, p. 308).

The Arab states' intentions to adhere to the declared aims of the Arab League have, however, been challenged by Israeli historians writing in the 1980s, including Avi Shlaim. Indeed, according to Shlaim, each Arab state involved in the war had their own hidden agenda, with their aims being far less ambitious than the wholesale destruction of Israel.[25]

During the war, about 100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon. Israel did not allow their return at the end of the hostilities despite a number of UN resolutions requiring their return. Today, most of their descendants live in camps throughout Lebanon. Though some Palestinian refugees did become Lebanese citizens, the great majority did not.

[edit] 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.[26] The war ended in 1990 with the signing of the Taif Agreement and parts of Lebanon were left in ruins.[27]

During the civil war, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) used Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel; this resulted in numerous civilian deaths and injuries. Lebanon was twice invaded and occupied by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1978 and 1982,[28] 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 due to continuous attacks executed by Hezbollah, and a belief that the violence would diminish and dissolve without the Israeli presence in Lebanon.[29] 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, according to the Hezbollah description, liberated.[30]

[edit] 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 descendents 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 May 19, 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 May 20, 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.

The camp became the centre 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 materialise, and life for the displaced refugees is hard.[31]

[edit] Cedar Revolution

On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion near the Saint George Bay in Beirut.[32] Leaders of the March 14 Alliance, a pro-Western coalition, accused Syria of the attack[33] due to 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.[34]

This incident triggered a series of demonstrations, dubbed the 'Cedar Revolution' by the media, that 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 1595 on 7 April 2005, which called for an investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri.[35] 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.[36] Eventually, and under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing its 15,000-strong army troops from Lebanon.[37] By 26 April 2005, all uniformed Syrian soldiers had already crossed the border back to Syria.[38][dead link]. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassination attempts that led to the loss of many prominent Lebanese figures.

On March 14, 2005, up to one million protesters demanded an end to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah purposely fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. Of the seven Israeli soldiers in the two jeeps, two were wounded, three were killed, and two were kidnapped and taken to Lebanon. Five more were killed in a failed Israeli rescue attempt. Israel launched strikes all over Lebanon, and Hezbollah responded by shelling Northern Israel. In Lebanon, air strikes caused serious damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure (including Beirut's airport), and were followed by Israel's ground forces moving into areas of Lebanon militarily controlled by Hezbollah fighters. Israel rained as many as 4.6 million cluster sub-munitions across southern Lebanon in at least 962 separate strikes, the vast majority over the final three days of the war when Israel knew a settlement was imminent.[39] In Israel, over 3,000 Hezbollah rockets landed on northern Israel, many in urban areas. The month-long conflict caused significant loss of life, both Israeli (nearly 100) and Lebanese (over 1,000). The conflict officially ended on 14 August 2006, when the United Nations Security Council issued resolution 1701 ordering a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel.[40] (Goldwasser and Regev were held for two years, without indication as to their health, until their remains were returned by Hezbollah to Israel on July 16, 2008 in a trade for living prisoners.)

In October 2007, Émile Lahoud finished his term as president. The opposition conditioned its vote for a successor on a power-sharing deal, thus leaving the country without a president for over 6 months. On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal resistance, in an armed attack triggered by a government decision on Hezbollah's communications network, temporarily took over Western Beirut[41][dead link]. The situation was described by the government as an attempted coup and led many to fear the country was on the brink of another civil war.[42] On 21 May 2008, all major Lebanese parties signed an accord to elect Michel Suleiman president and establish a government of national unity with a veto share for opposition parties, including one Hezbollah minister. The deal was brokered by an Arab League delegation, headed by the Emir and Foreign Minister of Qatar and the Secretary General of the Arab League, after five days of intense negotiations in Doha. Suleiman was officially elected president on 25 May 2008.

[edit] Government and politics

The Lebanese parliament building at the Place de l'Étoile

Lebanon is a parliamentary democratic republic, which implements a special system known as confessionalism.[43] This system is intended to ensure that sectarian conflict is kept at bay and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized religious groups in the governing body.[44][45] 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 and the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim.[46][47]

Lebanon's national legislature is the unicameral Parliament of Lebanon. Its 128 seats are divided equally between Muslims and Christians, proportionately between the different denominations and proportionately between regions.[48] 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.[46] The Parliament is elected for a four-year term by universal suffrage although the civil war precluded the exercise of this right.

The Grand Serail, the government headquarters in downtown Beirut

The executive branch constitute 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.[49] Following consultations with the parliament and the President, the Prime Minister forms the Cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism.

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.

[edit] 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. Aside from Syria, Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, 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.[50] The Lebanese remain neutral with the Israelis although there has been tension between the two.

[edit] 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).[51] 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:

[edit] 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. 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 in Syria is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms, but the border has been demarcated by the United Nations.[52]

Most of Lebanon's area is mountainous terrain,[53] 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 Valley.[54]

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.[55] 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 due to the high peaks of the western mountain front blocking much of the rain clouds that originate over the Mediterranean Sea.[56]

In ancient times, Lebanon housed large forests of the Cedars of Lebanon, which now serve as the country's national emblem.[57] 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.[57]

[edit] Economy

Economy of Lebanon

Beirut Stock Exchange
Companies listed on BSE
Bank of Lebanon
Topics of Lebanon
Culture - Geography
History - Politics

The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise.[58] Over the course of time, emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world.[59] Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor comparable to most European nations and the highest among Arabic speaking countries.[60]

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,[61] it does not have a large agricultural sector. Attracting a mere 12% of the total workforce,[62] 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.[63]

Lebanon's lack of raw materials for industry and its complete dependency on Arab countries for oil have made it difficult for the Lebanese to engage in significant industrial activity. As such, industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses concerned with reassembling and packaging imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population,[62] and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.[63]

A combination of beautiful climate, many historic landmarks and World Heritage Sites continues to attract large numbers of tourists to Lebanon annually, in spite of its political instability. In addition, Lebanon's strict financial secrecy and capitalist economy — though no longer unique in the region — have given it significant, though no longer dominant, economic status among Arab countries. The at-times 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%)[62] take employment in the services sector as a result of abundant job opportunities, as the economy itself is not all the diverse. The GDP contribution, accordingly, is very large and amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP.[63] The economy's dependence on services has always been an issue of great criticism and concern,[citation needed] as it leaves the country subject to the instability of this sector and the vagaries of international trade.

The 1975-1990 civil war seriously 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.[64] The subsequent period of relative peace enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes (though not always successfully), 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.[65]

Until the 2006 Lebanon War, Lebanon's economy witnessed excellent growth, with bank assets reaching over 75 billion US dollars,[66] 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).[66] 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.[66]

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.[67]

Rafiq Hariri International Airport, re-opened in September 2006, and the efforts to revive the Lebanese economy have since been proceeding at a slow pace. Major contributors to the reconstruction of Lebanon include Saudi Arabia (with US$ 1.5 billion pledged),[68] the European Union (with about $1 billion)[69] and a few other Persian Gulf countries with contributions of up to $800 million.[70]

[edit] Education

[edit] Schools

All Lebanese schools are required to follow a prescribed curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Private schools, approximately 1,400 in all,[71] may also add more courses to their curriculum with approval from the Ministry of Education. The main subjects taught are mathematics, sciences, history, civics, geography, Arabic, and at least one secondary language (either French or English). The subjects gradually increase in difficulty and in number. Students in Grade 11, for example, study up to eighteen different subjects.

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 may also graduate with a French Baccalaureate that is considered equivalent to the Lebanese Baccalaureate.

These three phases are provided free to all students and the first eight years are, by law, compulsory.[72] Nevertheless, this requirement currently falls short of being fully enforced.

[edit] 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 offer a very high quality and international class of education, the local employment market lacks of enough opportunities, thus encouraging many of the young educated to travel abroad.

Lebanon has forty-one nationally accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized.[73][74] 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.[75][76] The universities, both public and private, largely operate in French or English.[77]

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.[78]

[edit] Demographics & Religions

The number of people inhabiting Lebanon proper was estimated at 3,971,941 (July 2008 estimate).[64] Approximately 18 million people of Lebanese descent are spread all over the world, of whom a majority are Christians (75% Maronite Catholic and 25% Muslim[79]; in Lebanon, it is 30% Shiite, 30% Sunni, while 40% are mainly Maronite Catholic. The most live in Brazil, 8 million.[80] In 2007, Lebanon hosted approximately 325,800 refugees and asylum seekers: 270,800 from Palestine, 50,200 from Iraq, and 4,500 from Sudan. Lebanon forcibly repatriated more than 300 refugees and asylum seekers in 2007.[81]

No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional balance. The CIA World Fact Book gives the following distribution: Muslim - 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian - 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Coptic, Protestant), and 1.3% as "other".[82] There are 17 recognized religious sects.[64] An 18th sect, the Copts, was officially added recently. Some followers of the Druze religion do not consider themselves to be Muslim, but the state legally considers them Muslim. It should be noted that almost half the groups, though recognized, have less than 5,000 members each[citation needed].

According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of Lebanese Muslims believe that religion is very important.[83]

[edit] 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".[84] The majority of Lebanese people speak Lebanese Arabic, and sometimes French and/or English. Lebanese people of Armenian or Greek descent often speak Armenian or Greek fluently. Also in use is Syriac by Maronites and the Syriac minorities. Other languages include Circassian (spoken by 50,000), Tigrinya (30,000), Sinhala (25,000), Polish (5,000), Russian, and Romanian (together 10,000 speakers).[citation needed]

The colloquial language used in Lebanon, which is known as Lebanese, belongs to a group of dialects called Levantine Arabic. It differs from the literary Modern Standard Arabic, due to its historical blend to Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Turkish. In recent years, it has become increasingly common for Lebanese people, especially the better educated, to converse in a combination of Lebanese, English (40%) and French (45%), whereby the same sentence would include words or expressions from the different languages. In the 1960s Lebanese linguists proposed 37 letters for the Lebanese dialect based on the Latin alphabets. The Arab League rejected the idea, putting pressure on the Lebanese government to refuse such a project.[citation needed]

[edit] Culture

[edit] Overview

Phoenicia and its colonies.

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, and numerous violent clashes amongst different religious and ethnic groups. When compared to the rest of the Western Asia, Lebanese society as a whole is well educated, and as of 2003 87.4% of the population was literate.[85] Lebanese society is very modern and similar to certain cultures of Mediterranean Europe. It is often considered to serve as Europe's gateway to Western Asia as well as the Asian gateway to the Western World.[86]

[edit] Creative arts

Lebanese music is known around the Arab world for its soothing rhythms and oriental beats. Traditional and folk music are extremely popular, as are western rhythms. One of the most well-known Lebanese singers is Fairuz; her songs are broadcast every morning on most radio stations and many TV channels, both in Lebanon and the Arab world in general. Other prominent artists include Julia Boutros, composer and oud player Marcel Khalife, Majida El Roumi, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, and the important nun and singer Sister Marie Keyrouz, founder of The Ensemble of the Peace. Some Lebanese artists, such as Najwa Karam and Assi Hellani, remain loyal to a traditional type of music known as 'jabali' ("from the mountains"), while other artists incorporate Western styles into their songs. Lebanese performers are among the most popular in the Arab world[citation needed], and the star scene includes prominent figures like Najwa Karam, Nancy Ajram, Haifa Wehbe, Elissa, Ragheb Alame, Myriam Fares, Wael Kfoury, Nawal al Zoghbi, Carole Samaha, Julia Boutros, Marwan Khouri, Waleed Tawfeek, Amal Hijazi and Majida El Roumi.

[edit] Sports

Because of Lebanon's unique geography, both summer and winter sports thrive in the country. In autumn and spring it is sometimes possible to engage in both during the same season, skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean during the afternoon, much as one can in Cyprus. At the competitive level, basketball, football, and in recent years, Lebanon has hosted the Asian Cup and the Pan-Arab Games; the country will host the Winter Asian Games in 2009.

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 spelunking 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.

[edit] Arts and literature

By the turn of the 20th century, Beirut was vying with Cairo as the major centre for modern Arab thought, with many newspapers, magazines, and literary societies.

In literature, Gibran 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.[87] Several contemporary Lebanese writers have also achieved international success; including Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf and Hanan al-Shaykh.

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. His work was applauded for its representation of real life in Lebanon in pictures of the country, its people and its customs. Farroukh became highly regarded as a Lebanese nationalist painter at a time when Lebanon was asserting its political independence. His art captured the spirit and character of the Lebanese people and he became recognized as the outstanding Lebanese painter of his generation. He also wrote five books and taught art at the American University of Beirut.

[edit] Festivals

Several international music festivals are held in Lebanon, featuring world-renowned artists and drawing crowds from Lebanon and abroad. Among the most famous are Baalbeck International Festival, Beiteddine Festival, Byblos International Festival, Deir el Qamar Festival, and the Al-Bustan Festival. Beirut (Beirut Nights) in particular has a vibrant arts scene, with numerous performances, exhibits, fashion shows, and concerts held throughout the year in its galleries, museums, theatres, and public spaces.

Muslims in Lebanon celebrate Eid Al-Fitr (End of the month of fasting, which is called Ramadan) and Eid Al-Adha (The end of Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage).

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2007), World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision, United Nations, pp. 46, http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2006/WPP2006_Highlights_rev.pdf 
  2. ^ a b c d "Lebanon". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?pr.x=42&pr.y=14&sy=2004&ey=2008&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=446&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=. Retrieved on 2008-10-09. 
  3. ^ According to the website of the Embassy of Lebanon in the U.S. and the website of the Lebanese presidency
  4. ^ According to U.S. government sources such as the CIA and State Department country guides
  5. ^ Countries Quest. Jonathan Trumbull was born here "Lebanon, Government". Retrieved 14 December 2006.
  6. ^ UNIFIL. "Lebanon (10/08)". State.gov. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35833.htm. Retrieved on 2008-10-14. 
  7. ^ U.S. Department of State. "Background Note: Lebanon (History) August 2005" Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  8. ^ a b Anna Johnson (2006). "Lebanon: Tourism Depends on Stability"[dead link]. Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  9. ^ Canadian International Development Agency. "Lebanon: Country Profile". Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  10. ^ Center for the Study of the Built Environment. "Deconstructing Beirut's Reconstruction: 1990-2000". Retrieved 31 October 2006.
  11. ^ "Security Council calls for end to hostilities between Hizbollah, Israel, unanimously adopting Resolution 1701 (2006)". UN. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8808.doc.htm. Retrieved on 2008-10-14. 
  12. ^ "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Semitic Roots Index". http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/S177.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-03. 
  13. ^ a b Harb, Antoine (February 2004). "Lebanon: A Name through 4000 Years". Daily Star. http://www.cedarseed.com/air/dsharb.html. Retrieved on November 1, 2006. 
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  15. ^ Pollak, Sarah. "Lebanon Historically Linked to the Bible". Christian World News. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/080406biblical.aspx. Retrieved on February 21, 2007. 
  16. ^ Yazbeck, Roger. "Lebanon was mentioned 71 times in the Holy Bible...". Yazbeck wetsuits. http://www.yazbeck.com/roger/lebanon/bible.html. Retrieved on February, 21 2007. 
  17. ^ Ross, Kelley L. "The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian". The Proceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series. Friesian School. http://www.friesian.com/egypt.htm. Retrieved on 2009-01-20. 
  18. ^ "Byblos". Retrieved 31 July 2007.
  19. ^ "Archaeological Virtual Tours: Byblos". Destinationlebanon.gov.lb. http://destinationlebanon.gov.lb/eng/Byblos/History.asp. Retrieved on 2008-10-14. 
  20. ^ About.com (1987)."Lebanon in Ancient Times". Retrieved 17 December 2006.
  21. ^ U.S. Library of Congress. "History: Present-Day Syria". Retrieved 2 May 2007
  22. ^ Chorbishop Seely Beggiani (2005). "Aspects of Maronite History (Part Eleven) The twentieth century in Western Asia". Retrieved 24 January 2007.
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  25. ^ Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
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  31. ^ UN IRIN news. "Life set to get harder for Nahr al-Bared refugees". Retrieved 5 November 2008.
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  33. ^ CBC News Indepth (2006). "Recent background on Syria's presence in Lebanon". Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  34. ^ See this MEMRI bulletin, includes several statements and sources.
  35. ^ "Press Release SC/8353". United Nations - Security Council. April 07, 2005. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sc8353.doc.htm. Retrieved on 2009-01-19. 
  36. ^ Mehlis, Detlev (19 October 2005). "Report of the International Independent Investigation Commission established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1595". United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine. http://domino.un.org/UNISPAl.NSF/fd807e46661e3689852570d00069e918/308be5d60f79289b852570a5005d0d00!OpenDocument. Retrieved on 2009-02-02. "It is the Commission's view that the assassination of 14 February 2005 was carried out by a group with an extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities. [...] Building on the findings of the Commission and Lebanese investigations to date and on the basis of the material and documentary evidence collected, and the leads pursued until now, there is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act." "Report of the International Independent Investigation Commission established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1595" (PDF). http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/6779420.html. 
  37. ^ "Syria begins Lebanon withdrawal". BBC News. March 12, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4342705.stm. Retrieved on December 11, 2006. 
  38. ^ CNN (2005) "Last Syrian troops leave Lebanon". Retrieved 11 December 2006.
  39. ^ "Israel’s Use of Cluster Bombs Shows Need for Global Ban". Human Rights Watch. February 17, 2008. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/02/17/israel-s-use-cluster-bombs-shows-need-global-ban. Retrieved on 2009-01-19. 
  40. ^ "SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN HIZBOLLAH, ISRAEL". UN - Security Council, Department of Public Information. August 11, 2006. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8808.doc.htm. Retrieved on 2009-01-19. 
  41. ^ [2]
  42. ^ Martínez, Beatriz; Francesco Volpicella (September 2008). "Walking the tight wire - Conversations on the May 2008 Lebanese crisis". Transnational Institute. http://www.tni.org/docs/200809111337472070.pdf?. Retrieved on 2009-01-19. 
  43. ^ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2002). "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002: Lebanon". Retrieved 3 January 2007.
  44. ^ Lijphart, Arend. Consociational Democracy, in "World Politics", Vol. 21, No. 2 (January 1969), pp. 207-225.
  45. ^ Lijphart, Arend. Multiethnic democracy, in S. Lipset (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Democracy". London, Routledge, 1995, Volume III, pp. 853-865.
  46. ^ a b United States Institute of Peace (March 2006). "Lebanon's Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects". Retrieved 3 January 2007.
  48. ^ [unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan023179.pdf "Lebanon Public Administration Profile"] (PDF). Division for Public Administration and Development Management, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations. October 2004. unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan023179.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-09-11. 
  49. ^ UNDP. "Democratic Governance, Elections, Lebanon". Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  50. ^ UNIFIL. "Lebanon (11/07)". State.gov. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35833.htm. Retrieved on 2008-10-14. 
  51. ^ USAID Lebanon. "USAID Lebanon — Definitions of Terms used". Retrieved 17 December 2006.
  52. ^ Telegraph (2000) "Israel's Withdrawal from Lebanon Given UN's Endorsement". Retrieved 1 November 2006.
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  54. ^ UN IRIN news. "Climate change and politics threaten water wars in Bekaa". Retrieved 1 February 2009.
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  57. ^ a b Blue Planet Biomes. "Lebanon Cedar - Cedrus libani". Retrieved 10 December 2006.
  58. ^ U.S. Department of State (1994) Header: People, 4th paragraph. Retrieved 3 December 2006.
  59. ^ Background Note: Lebanon "www.washingtoninstitute.org" Retrieved 3 December 2006.
  60. ^ United Nations Population Fund."Lebanon - Overview"[dead link]. Retrieved 9 November 2006.
  61. ^ Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, U.S.A. 1986-1988. [3]. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  62. ^ a b c Jean Hayek et al, 1999. The Structure, Properties, and Main Foundations of the Lebanese Economy. In The Scientific Series in Geography, Grade 11, 110-114. Beirut: Dar Habib.
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  64. ^ a b c CIA, the World Factbook (2006). "Lebanon". Retrieved 7 November 2006.
  65. ^ CIA World Factbook 2001. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
  66. ^ a b c Bank Audi (2006). "Lebanon Economic Report: 2nd Quarter, 2006". Retrieved 27 November 2005.
  67. ^ Lebanese Ministry of Finance (2006)."Impact of the July Offensive on the Public Finances in 2006". Retrieved 24 September 2006.
  68. ^ Cyprus News (2006). "Saudi Arabia Key Contributor To Lebanon's Reconstruction". Retrieved 26 November 2006.
  69. ^ Lebanon Under Siege (2006). "Donors pledge more than $940 million for Lebanon". Retrieved 26 November 2006.
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  71. ^ Samidoun (2006). "Aid groups scramble to fix buildings, fill backpacks before school bell rings". Retrieved 9 December 2006.
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  80. ^ Marina Sarruf (2006). "Brazil Has More Lebanese than Lebanon". Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  81. ^ "World Refugee Survey 2008". U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 2008-06-19. http://www.refugees.org/survey/. 
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  83. ^ Lebanon's Muslims: Relatively Secular and Pro-Christian Pew Research Center (2006).
  84. ^ "Article 11 of the Lebanese Constitution" http://www.servat.unibe.ch/law/icl/le00000_.html#A011_ Retrieved 28 June 2008.
  85. ^ Lebanon CIA World Fact Book. [4]. 18 December 2006.
  86. ^ Lebanon Culture. [5]. 18 December 2006.
  87. ^ The Hindu (5 January 2003). "Called by life";. Retrieved 8 January 2007.

[edit] Further reading

  • Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon. New York: Nation Books, 2002.
  • Firzli, Nicola Y. Al-Baath wa-Lubnân [Arabic only] ("The Baath and Lebanon"). Beirut: Dar-al-Tali'a Books, 1973
  • 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.
  • Plonka Arkadiusz, L’idée de langue libanaise d’après Sa‘īd ‘Aql, Paris, Geuthner, 2004 (French) ISBN 2705337393
  • 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.

[edit] External links

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[edit] General information

[edit] News media

[edit] Government

[edit] Non-governmental organizations

[edit] Learned Societies and Non-Profit Organizations

[edit] Web portals

[edit] Culture and education

[edit] Festivals

[edit] Travel and tourism

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