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History of Lebanon

A picture taken on November 1, 2015 shows a view of Beirut’s Grand Serail (the headquarters of Lebanon’s prime minister) and what used to be the city’s market as it was taken in a postcard published by late Armenian photographers Sarrafian Brothers and posted on May 23, 1919. The Sarrafian Brothers Company was based in Beirut and was the main publisher of postcards in the Near East in the begging of the 20th century. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo by PATRICK BAZ / AFP)

“All of them means all of them”, was the slogan of the protesting Lebanese on the 17th of October, 2019. A slogan that shook the pillars of the “Confessionalism” Lebanese political regime. This political system was founded since the Taif agreements (1989) that ended a 15 years-long civil war.

Protests against corruption and mismanagement led to the resignation of the prime minister Saad Hariri, the “Future Movement” leader and the hand of the Sunni Muslims in Lebanon. As a result, Hassan Diab was appointed head of a new government that was described as a “new patch on a weary dress”.

In this section, we will dive into Lebanon’s history from its present to its past, attempting to get through the conclusive events which laid out this country’s present and identity from a historian’s perspective.

The Second Republic (2019-1989)

After the Lebanese civil war and the constitutional reforms of November 1989, the second republic era began, headed by the Maronite Christian president “René Moawad”. However, Moawad was assassinated a few days after being appointed in one of the Syrian controlled areas.

The political disputes intensified during the reign of his successor “Elias Hrawi”, especially with the government of “Omar Karami”. This government was formed under a Syrian sponsorship and was opposed by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah.
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Sectarianism and the Civil War (1989-1970)

Due to “Back September” clashes in 1970 with the Jordanian army, Palestine Liberation Organization moved its headquarters from Amman to Beirut. The stance of the Lebanese political groups varied towards the Palestinian Fedayeen’s operations against Israel. That political contrast quickly escalated into a sectarian division fed by territorial forces. The Lebanese president at that time Suleiman Frangieh couldn’t contain the escalation.
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In the spring of 1975, Palestinians attacked one of the churches. The regulatory forces of the Lebanese Phalanges Party (Kataeb) – led by the Maronite Pierre Gemayel – responded with an assault on a Palestinian bus. This further intensified the sectarian division, and military militias were formed for each religious sect. Consequently, a civil war started, causing the death of people merely for belonging to a sect. This situation was named as “Murder based on Identity”. The civil war lasted for 15 years, including an Israeli siege on Beirut in 1982 summer. The siege went on for 3 months and ended with Sabra and Shatila massacre.
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Lebanon didn’t go unscathed from the aftermath of June’s war in 1967 between the Arabs and Israel. Israel occupied Shebaa Farms which are adjacent to the Syrian borders. In addition, more Palestinian refugees fled to Lebanon, settling in the south of the country and close to the Israeli borders. The Lebanese armed forces proved to be unable to control the camps.
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Between the First Republic and the French Mandate (1970-1920)

After the presidential term of the second president “Camille Chamoun” (1952 – 1958), the term of President Fuad Chehab (1958-1964) witnessed several unprecedented social and economic reforms. These reforms including establishing the Central Bank of Lebanon and attempting to decrease the intense income disparities. In addition, Chehab developed the rural areas and founded social security institutions. However, he was not able to change the laws that sanctified sectarianism.
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Lebanon had announced its independence from France in 1946. Due to a general strike that paralyzed the country, the first president “Bechara Al-Khoury” were forced to resign in 1952. The Israeli Declaration of Independence (Nakba) in 1948 and the Arab-Israeli War later resulted in more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees flowing into Lebanon. This changed the political and the demographic map of the whole region.

During the French Mandate, Greater Lebanon comprised of the coastal areas. Although this changed the demographic composition, Christian sects stayed generally in favor. A constitution for the country was drafted and completed in 1926. It stated that presidency is allocated to a Maronite Christians. While the speaker of the parliament must be a Shia Muslim, the prime minister has to be a Sunni Muslim. The minister of defense has to be a Druze.
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Between the 19th century’s tranquility and the Mamluks (1900-1282)

Tranquility and prosperity prevailed in Mount Lebanon until the 19th century. This mount was a haven for different religious and ethnic minorities that fled persecution. These minorities have had to coexist one way or another.

The Mamluks were defeated by the Ottoman Empire in 1516, paving the way for 3 centuries of relative harmony between different religious sects.

Since the Mamluks were Sunnis, they were wary of the Christians -especially the Maronites- and the Shia who inhabited those areas. However, Mamluks enjoyed a good relationship with the Catholic Christians of Venice and allowed the Christian sects to live peacefully in Lebanon.
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Lebanon: Home of the Religious Diversity

Over history, Lebanon was featured by religious diversity: Jews, several Christian sects and Muslims lived there. Although the coastal cities converted into Islam at advent of this religion, they remained home for the Greeks and the Armenians. Ali’s followers -Shia- settled in the south of Lebanon and on the mountains. One of Shia branches that spread in Lebanon and Syria was the Ismailies who came from Egypt to Lebanon during the Fatimid dynasty era. This migration happened during the 9th and 10th centuries. The Druze -who comprise a main part of the Lebanon social fabric- is a dissident branch from the Ismaili sect, whose roots go back to Egypt as well.

The coastal region of present-day Lebanon corresponds to an important part of ancient Canaan, which extended from Ugarit (now Ras Shamra) in northern Syria, along the coast and the valley of the river Orontes, down Acre. The Cities located on the currently Lebanese coast, such as Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre were famous Phoenician cities, and each of them was an independent city.
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Lebanon History

Much of Lebanon has a natural definition consisting of two distinct northern New England towns nestled in valleys rich in natural and human history. This landscape provides a clearly-definable “sense of place.”

The Mascoma and Connecticut Rivers meander through or alongside the City with quiet waters and stretches of turbulent waters. The Mascoma River serves a dual role of linking the eastern and the western ends of the City and of partitioning the north from the south. The Connecticut River serves as a landmark that defines the City limits on the west and ties the northwest section of Lebanon with the southwest corner.

Lebanon is characterized by ridgelines surrounding the bottomlands of these rivers. In the Mascoma basin, Crafts Hill, Quarry Hill, Signal Hill, and Mount Tug form the northern rim, while Bass Hill, Storrs Hill, and Farnum Hill define the southern boundary of the valley. Mount Finish, Bald Hill, Crafts Hill, and Colburn Hill define the eastern rim of the Connecticut River Valley. These prominences trend on a north/south axis and give Lebanon’s terrain a strong, undulating form. These major ridgelines and especially certain prominences such as Storrs/Farnum Hill, Mount Support, Mount Tug, and Signal Hill lend natural definition to the City.

In this natural setting Lebanon took form resulting in its present cultural landscape. The City’s early use of land resembed the historic European development pattern that is, a dense urban center surrounded by agricultural uses and forested open spaces. Two such urban centers now exist, one in central Lebanon and the other located in western Lebanon. It is within these areas that the commercial, civic, and dense residential land uses emerged and continue to function.

Lebanon was one of sixteen towns on the Connecticut River to receive a charter from Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire in 1761. In that year, four men settled on the bank of the Connecticut River near what is now Wilder Dam the first family arrived the following year.

The settlers constructed a sawmill on the Mascoma River in the western end of town in 1763 and a bridge in 1767. Early settlers built cabins on the intervales. The oldest surviving house in Lebanon today, the old Hall place on South Main Street in West Lebanon, was built in 1766. The first schoolhouse, a log structure built in 1768 on the King’s Highway in West Lebanon, west of the present airport, was also the town’s first public building. Four years later the first meetinghouse was built on Seminary Hill in West Lebanon, destined to stand only ten years before being moved to a new location on Farnum Hill.

From a town with 162 inhabitants in 1767, Lebanon grew to 1,579 inhabitants by 1800. A blend of agriculture and industry has characterized Lebanon since its incorporation. The town’s early development was based on subsistence farming with industries producing lumber, flour, and cloth. The initial pattern of settlement was southward along the Connecticut River, but gradually moved from the River into Farnum and Storrs Hills.

During the period between 1800 and 1830, subsistence farming was transformed to commercial farming as transportation along the Connecticut River was supplemented by the completion of the Fourth New Hampshire Turnpike, linking Lebanon to the seacoast, and by the incorporation of the Croydon Turnpike in 1804, allowing fast transport of food products. The convergence of the rivers and these turnpikes in Lebanon along with the White River Turnpike and the Hanover Branch Turnpike supported a number of inns and public houses in town along these well-travelled routes and provided an excellent location for industrial development.

Spurred by the 1828 tariff which protected domestic wool, sheep raising dominated agricultural activity in Lebanon until about 1845. Grazing and other farming activities reduced the town’s woodland to less than 20% of the area of the town as compared to 80% in 1800. By 1850, a marked shift in population, characterized by rapid growth of the urban population and slow decline in the rural areas, was apparent in Lebanon as well as most of New England.

Unable to compete with the western wool industry, the town’s agricultural emphasis subsequently focused on dairy herds rather than sheep. Two creameries were established in Lebanon in the 1880s. Dairy farming continued to be the chief agricultural pursuit through the 20th century. With the reduction in pasture land due to dairying, Lebanon began to return to its predominantly wooded state.

Beginning about 1800, business activity in Lebanon shifted from the Connecticut River to Payne’s Mills, known later as Lebanon City, located at the outlet of Mascoma Lake in East Lebanon. Initial development here, along Hibbard and Great Brooks, was prompted by the construction of a dam, sawmill, and gristmill in 1778. The establishment of a textile mill, wool carding establishment, slate quarry, and furniture factory increased the village’s importance until a fire in 1840 destroyed most of the mills. They were never rebuilt, returning East Lebanon, as it is known today, to its rural character.

Another nucleus of population began to grow in what is now Lebanon Center following the construction of the Town Meetinghouse in 1792. The first industry here was a gristmill, followed by fulling and linseed oil mills. Not until the middle of the century were the assets of the Mascoma River utilized and urbanization begun. The demise of East Lebanon, the superiority of the water provided by the Mascoma River, and the availability of railroad transportation all encouraged the growth of Lebanon Center.

With the exception of a decrease during the 1830s, Lebanon maintained slow but steady population growth between 1800 and 1860. The decade between 1860 and 1870 resulted in a 26% increase in Lebanon’s population, reaching 3,094 in 1870. During this period large numbers of French-speaking Canadians immigrated to Lebanon to work in the mills.

Also significant was an 1866 town resolution which extended a hearty invitation to manufacturing capital two important Lebanon firms – Carter and Churchill and H.W. Carter and Sons – were founded during this period.

The industrial development of Lebanon Center after 1848 was characterized by three basic industries centering around iron, wood, and wool. By 1887, iron factories had been reduced to specialization in fewer items, since Lebanon could not compete with other manufacturing areas with ready sources of iron and coal.

A major fire in 1887, which destroyed some 80 buildings on 12 acres in Central Lebanon, was largely responsible for completing the evolution from furniture factories to woolen mills. Nearly the entire manufacturing community was destroyed. Many residences, tenement houses, commercial buildings, and enterprises, including the furniture businesses, never resumed operations. Growth of the woolen mills was further advanced by labor advantages stemming from the untapped labor supply of women, the superiority of the soft water of the Mascoma River for bleaching and dying, and the increased capacity of the dams upstream.

The concentration or variety of industry was never to match earlier levels after the fire. Smaller shops and mills gave way to larger operations. Despite the effects of the fire, Lebanon population between 1880 and 1890 increased by 12.2%. Rapid growth of other industries lessened the impact of the disaster which had left some 600 people unemployed. The 1890’s saw an additional 24% increase in growth, bringing the population to 4,965 persons in 1900.

Private water and telephone services were introduced in 1883 with electricity following in 1890. This period of growth was also characterized by a building boom, evidenced in commercial structures such as the National Bank and the Whipple Block in Lebanon Center, as well as many existing residences.

Despite difficult times during the Depression, the woolen industry maintained an important role in Lebanon’s economy through the 1940s and 1950s until the closing of the Mascoma Mills in 1953. The arrival of the E. Cummings Tannery in the late 1930s which located on the site of what was once Lebanon’s largest mill, insured that downtown Lebanon would remain an industrial center. The Tannery closed in 1980 and was razed the following year.

Major transportation developments including the completion of Lebanon Airport in 1942, the construction of Interstate 89 through town to connect with Interstate 91 across the river, and the abandonment of the railroad have made it possible for industries to establish in outlying areas instead of at sources of power and rail transportation which once dictated the location of industries.

A new charter establishing the city of Lebanon with a mayor-council form of government was approved by the State Legislature and adopted by the voters in 1957.

Lebanon’s second major fire, in June 1964, destroyed 20 downtown buildings and caused an estimated $3 million worth of damage in much the same location as the fire of 1887. Destroyed were most of the city’s late 19th century mill and commercial structures, replaced several years later by a pedestrian mall, new traffic patterns, and newly built streets and bridges.

Lebanon’s railroad era was brought to a close with the end of passenger service in the 1960s and the subsequent abandonment of the freight lines in the 1980s. Additional development of roads resulted in changes in population distribution. Many areas formerly considered rural are now becoming desirable locations for residential housing subdivisions. West Lebanon, whose growth was influenced by its railroad station and river crossing to Vermont, has grown into an urban center in its own right and beginning in the 1960s became a regional shopping center. Lebanon has maintained steady population growth in the 20th century.

While the 1960-70 decade saw the smallest population gain in Lebanon’s history (4.6%), the ensuing decade of the 70s saw the rate jump to 14.5%. The development of Lebanon’s own commercial base, as well as the expansion of Dartmouth College and Mary Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover and the V.A. Hospital in White River Junction, fueled the major portion of this increase.

Development in the 1980s included additional growth along Route 12A and a number of housing projects. The decade of the eighties concluded with the City approving the relocation of the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to Lebanon. DHMC opened in 1991 and is now the major employer in the City.

‘Keep their memory alive’

The memory of the regiment is kept alive by a small group of local re-enactors. Known as the 93rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, the group has about 15 official members, according to spokesman Steven Bansner.

Before COVID shut everything down, Bansner says, the re-enactors participated in eight to ten events per year, spread through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

Bansner says he’s been involved in the group since 1987, and he notes that some members have ancestors who served in the original Civil War regiment.

Another member, Dennis Shirk, says he’s been re-enacting for 35 years, and he enjoys recreating Civil War battles on the sites where they originally took place.

“Keeping Civil War history alive is very important to me,” Shirk says. “It is up to us to keep their memory alive.”

Another group maintains an educational group on Facebook known as the Lebanon Infantry: The 93rd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Basic information about the 93rd is available through various online and published sources, “but you learn more the more you dig,” Brandt notes.

A regimental history (Amazon), published in 1911 by Capt. Penrose B. Mark of Company D, “is the bible of the 93rd,” he adds. There are also old newspaper clips, journal entries, letters and other resources that help to fill in the blanks.

“More is discovered all the time,” Brandt says.

U.S. Relations With Lebanon

Lebanon’s history since independence in 1943 has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on its position as a regional center for finance and trade. The country’s 1975-90 civil war was followed by years of social and political instability. Sectarianism is a key element of Lebanese political life. Neighboring Syria long influenced Lebanon’s foreign policy and internal policies, and its military forces were in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005. After the Syrian military withdrew, the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hizballah and Israel continued to engage in attacks and counterattacks against each other, fighting a brief war in 2006 and engaging in cross-border skirmishes in 2019 and 2020. Lebanon’s borders with both Syria and Israel are still to be resolved.

The United States seeks to help Lebanon preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, stability, and territorial integrity. The United States, along with the international community, supports full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1559, 1680, and 1701, including the disarming of all militias, the delineation of the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) throughout Lebanon. The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

U.S. Assistance to Lebanon

Since 2010, the United States has provided more than $4 billion total in foreign assistance to Lebanon.

Specifically, the United States has provided more than $2 billion in assistance since 2010 to address both economic support and security needs. This assistance aims to strengthen strategic partners such as Lebanon’s security forces ensure key services reach the Lebanese people preserve the multi-sectarian character of Lebanon and counter Hizballah’s narrative and influence. Support for Lebanon’s security agencies and other strategic partners remains at the core of our efforts to preserve stability while countering and delegitimizing Hizballah’s false narrative and justification for retaining its arms in Lebanon and in the region.

Economic Support Funding (ESF) to Lebanon since 2010 totaled nearly $1 billion and has supported programs that promote economic growth, workforce employability and productivity, good governance, and social cohesion. This assistance has also supported access to clean water and improved education services to Lebanese communities, especially those deeply affected by the influx of Syrian refugees. Included in this amount is nearly $210 million in basic education programs and over $150 million in higher education programs in Lebanon, supporting access for over 1,170 Lebanese and refugee students from disadvantaged backgrounds to top ranking Lebanese universities, including the American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University.

The United States is Lebanon’s primary security partner and has provided more than $2 billion in bilateral security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) since 2006. U.S. assistance supports the LAF’s ability to secure Lebanon’s borders, counter internal threats, and demonstrate it is the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty. Through the provision of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, munitions, vehicles, and associated training, the LAF has become a committed partner and greatly increased its capability as a fighting force against violent extremists. Our investment in training and equipping the LAF has paid outsized dividends for U.S. interests in Lebanon and the region by enabling the Lebanese military to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Lebanon, carry out operations against Al Qaeda, and reassert control over Lebanese territory along its border with Syria. U.S. security assistance has included more than $235 million in civilian security assistance since 2011. This assistance has enhanced the capabilities and professionalism of security institutions, among them the Internal Security Forces (ISF), as they work to prevent, counter, and respond to criminal and terrorist threats and their underlying causes, to secure and safeguard Lebanon’s territory and people, to interdict items of proliferation concern, and to extend rule of law throughout the country.

The United States has also provided more than $2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance in Lebanon since the start of the Syria crisis. Lebanon hosts the second-highest per capita number of refugees in the world, and the second-highest total number of Syrian refugees in the world. There are approximately 880,000 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and nearly 27,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). There are approximately 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon but the actual number is unknown as registration of Syrian refugees was suspended in 2015. There are also approximately 475,000 longstanding Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations, and approximately 18,000 Iraqi and other refugees residing in Lebanon. Since the start of the Syria crisis, U.S. humanitarian assistance in Lebanon has met a range of critical needs of Syrian refugees and host communities, including food, shelter, medical care, clean water and sanitation, education, and psychosocial support.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Lebanon has historically been a free-market economy with a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. Since the fall of 2019, however, Lebanon has been mired in an economic and financial crisis from which it has yet to recover. In March 2020, the government defaulted on $31 billion in eurobonds, dealing a significant blow to the country’s creditworthiness. As of August 2020, the government has yet to implement economic reforms necessary to reduce overall debt and put the country on a sound economic footing. In 2018, major U.S. exports to Lebanon were vehicles, mineral fuel and oil, products of chemical industries, machinery and electrical instruments, prepared foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco, and vegetable products. The U.S. and Lebanon have signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to help promote an attractive investment climate, expand trade relations, and remove obstacles to trade and investment between the two countries. The United States does not have a bilateral investment treaty with Lebanon or an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. The long-standing U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program allows Lebanon to export select products to the United States without paying duties or customs.

Lebanon’s Membership in International Organizations

Lebanon and the United States belong to several of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.

Bilateral Representation

Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.

Lebanon maintains an embassy in the United States at 2560 28th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300.

More information about Lebanon is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

A controversy still concerns the people at the origin of this breakage, some seeing the hand of the Mossad, others of the British SAS because of documents considered compromising which could be in the coffers of the establishment or even a group. , faction 17, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organization and therefore to Yasser Arafat.

The establishment was, however, functional despite the events that began just 9 months ago, with fighting between Christian and Palestinian militias. The Green Line was already taking hold of people’s minds for a long time, but when it came to money, it had been a sacred thing until then.

The robbers – 8 in number, each carrying an M16 type submachine gun – from 5 floors then fired one of the walls of the establishment, with a 40 or 60 mm mortar, causing a large hole in its facade. . It was then a question of opening the coffers of the bank.

Then with the help, it is said, locksmiths of Corsican origin would have taken for 20 to 50 million dollars in the form of gold bars mainly but also of foreign currency and even of jewelry, that is today more than 100 millions of dollars in terms of discounted value. Some even believe that this value would be even more important.

The operation will last 4 hours without anyone trying to put an end to it, which is nevertheless striking given the scale of the loot.

The loot will never be found, perhaps sold on the local market as for many goods stolen at that time or even sold to Switzerland according to others, another tax haven, which has remained quite in peace.

Until now, the identity of the robbers as well as the exact amount of the loot or even its destination remain a mystery …

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Before the Christian faith reached the territory of Lebanon, Jesus had traveled to its southern parts near Tyre where the scripture tells that he cured a possessed Canaanite child. [nb 1] [7] [8] Christianity in Lebanon is almost as old as gentile Christian faith itself. Early reports relate the possibility that Saint Peter himself was the one who evangelized the Phoenicians whom he affiliated to the ancient patriarchate of Antioch. [9] Paul also preached in Lebanon, having lingered with the early Christians in Tyre and Sidon. [10] Even though Christianity was introduced to Lebanon after the first century AD, its spread was very slow, particularly in the mountainous areas where paganism was still unyielding. [11]

The earliest indisputable tradition of Christianity in Lebanon can be traced back to Saint Maron in the 4th century AD, being of Greek/Eastern/Antiochian Orthodox origin and the founder of national and ecclesiastical Maronitism. Saint Maron adopted an ascetic and reclusive life on the banks of the Orontes river in the vicinity of Homs–Syria and founded a community of monks which began to preach the gospel in the surrounding areas. [9] By faith, liturgy, rite, religious books and heritage, the Maronites were of Eastern origin. [11] The Saint Maron Monastery was too close to Antioch to grant the monks their freedom and autonomy, which prompted Saint John Maron, the first Maronite patriarch-elect, to lead his monks into the Lebanese mountains to escape emperor Justinian II's persecution, finally settling in the Qadisha valley. [9] Nevertheless, the influence of the Maronite establishment spread throughout the Lebanese mountains and became a considerable feudal force. The existence of the Maronites was largely ignored by the western world until the Crusades. [9] In the 16th century, the Maronite Church adopted the catechism of the Catholic Church and reaffirmed its relationship with it. [11] Moreover, Rome dispatched Franciscan, Dominican and later Jesuit missionaries to Lebanon to Latinise the Maronites. [9]

Due to their turbulent history, the Maronites formed a secluded identity in the mountains and valleys of Lebanon, led by the Maronite patriarch who voiced his opinion on contemporary issues. They identify themselves as a unique community whose religion and culture is distinct from the predominantly Muslim Arab world. [11] The Maronites played a major part in the definition of and the creation of the state of Lebanon. The modern state of Greater Lebanon was established by France in 1920 after the instigation of ambitious Maronite leaders headed by patriarch Elias Peter Hoayek, who presided over delegations to France following World War I and requested the re-establishment of the entity of the Principality of Lebanon (1515AD-1840AD). With the creation of the state of Lebanon, Arabism was overcome by Lebanism, which emphasizes Lebanon's Mediterranean and Phoenician heritage. In the National Pact, an unwritten gentleman's agreement between the Maronite President Bshara el-Khoury and Sunni Prime Minister Riad as-Solh, the seats of presidency were distributed between the main Lebanese religious denominations. According to the pact, the President of the Lebanese republic shall always be a Maronite. Furthermore, the pact also states that Lebanon is a state with an "Arab face" (not an Arab identity). [12]

The number of Christians in Lebanon has been disputed for many years. There has been no official census in Lebanon since 1932. Christians were still half the country by mid-century, but by 1985, only a quarter of all Lebanese were Christians. [13] Many argue over the percentage and population of Christians in Lebanon. One estimate of the Christian share of Lebanon's population as of 2012 is 40.5%. [14] Therefore, the country has the largest percentage of Christians of all the Middle Eastern nations.

The Maronite Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Catholic Church, is the largest and politically most active and influential denomination of Lebanon's Christians. The Catholic Church also includes other Eastern Catholic churches, such as the Melkite Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church forms the second largest proportion of Lebanese Christians. The Armenian Apostolic Church also forms a large portion of the Christian population in Lebanon.

In the Lebanese Parliament, Lebanese Christians hold 64 seats in tandem with 64 seats for Lebanese Muslims. The Maronites holds 34 seats, the Eastern Orthodox 14, Melkite 8, the Gregorian Armenians 5, Catholic Armenians 1, Protestants 1, and other Christian minority groups, 1.

The head of the Maronite Church is the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, who is elected by the bishops of the Maronite church and now resides in Bkerké, north of Beirut (but in the northern town of Dimane during the summer months). The current Patriarch (from 2011) is Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. When a new patriarch is elected and enthroned, he requests ecclesiastic communion from the Pope, thus maintaining the Catholic Church communion. Patriarchs may also be accorded the status of cardinals, in the rank of cardinal-bishops. They share with other Catholics the same doctrine, but Maronites retain their own liturgy and hierarchy. Strictly speaking, the Maronite church belongs to the Antiochene Tradition and is a West Syro-Antiochene Rite. Syriac is the liturgical language, instead of Latin. Nevertheless, they are considered, with the Syro-Malabar Church, to be among the most Latinized of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The Seat of the Maronite Catholic Church is in Bkerké. Monasteries in Lebanon are run by both the Maronite and Orthodox Church. The Holy Monastery of Saint George in Deir El Harf and Saint John the Baptist Monastery in Douma both date back to the 5th century. The Balamand Monastery in Tripoli is a very prominent Orthodox monastery that has a seminary and a university associated with it.

Under the terms of an agreement known as the National Pact between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country must be a Maronite, the Prime Minister must be a Sunnite, and the Speaker of Parliament must be a Shiite.

The Taif Agreement helped establish a power sharing system between the Christian and Muslim Lebanese political parties. [21] The political and economic situation in Lebanon had improved greatly. Lebanon had rebuilt its infrastructure. Historical and contemporary conflicts between Hezbollah and Israel have threatened to deteriorate Lebanon's political and economic situation, with growing tension between the 8 March and 14 March alliances and threatening Lebanon with renewed strife. The Christian community is currently divided, with some aligned with the Kataeb party, Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, the El Marada Party headed by Suleiman Frangieh, Jr., the Lebanese Forces Movement Samir Geagea, and others within the collection of various 14 March Christian leaders. Although the Taif agreement was widely considered by Christians to degrade their role in Lebanon, by removing much of the President's role (which is allocated to the Maronites), and bolstering the roles of the Prime Minister (a Sunni) and the Speaker of Parliament (Shia), the Lebanese President nevertheless still wields considerable power. [ citation needed ] The constitutional remit of the president includes the role of Commander in Chief of the armed forces, as well as the sole ability to form and dissolve governments. Many Lebanese leaders, as well as global powers, continue to lobby to roll back features of the Taif Agreement that eroded the constitutional powers of the president of the republic. [ citation needed ] The role of president of the Lebanese Central bank is also a position reserved for Lebanese Christians. [ citation needed ] This is due to the historical and contemporary influence of Lebanese Christians among the key bankers of the Middle East region.

Although Lebanon is a secular country, family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities representing a person's faith. Calls for civil marriage are unanimously rejected by the religious authorities but civil marriages conducted in another country are recognized by Lebanese civil authorities.

Non-religion is not recognized by the state. But the Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud made it possible in 2009 to have religious affiliation removed from the Lebanese identity card. This does not, however, deny the religious authorities' complete control over civil family issues inside the country. [22] [23]

In a 1976 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, a US diplomat stated "if I got nothing else from my meeting with Frangie, Chamoun and Gemayel, it is their clear, unequivocal and unmistakable belief that their principal hope for saving Christian necks is Syria. They sound like Assad is the latest incarnation of the Crusaders." [24]

Lebanon - History

After the Vichy government assumed power in France in 1940, General Henri-Fernand Dentz was appointed high commissioner of Lebanon. This appointment led to the resignation of Emile Iddi on April 4, 1941. Five days later, Dentz appointed Alfred Naqqash as head of state. The Vichy government's control ended a few months later when its forces were unable to repel the advance of French and British troops into Lebanon and Syria. An armistice was signed in Acre on July 14, 1941.

After signing the Acre Armistice, General Charles de Gaulle visited Lebanon, officially ending Vichy control. Lebanese national leaders took the opportunity to ask de Gaulle to end the French Mandate and unconditionally recognize Lebanon's independence. As a result of national and international pressure, on November 26, 1941, General Georges Catroux, delegate general under de Gaulle, proclaimed the independence of Lebanon in the name of his government. The United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, the Arab states, and certain Asian countries recognized this independence, and some of them exchanged ambassadors with Beirut. However, even though the French technically recognized Lebanon's independence, they continued to exercise authority.

General elections were held, and on September 21, 1943, the new Chamber of Deputies elected Bishara al Khuri as president. He appointed Riyad as Sulh as prime minister and asked him to form the first government of independent Lebanon. On November 8, 1943, the Chamber of Deputies amended the Constitution, abolishing the articles that referred to the Mandate and modifying those that specified the powers of the high commissioner, thus unilaterally ending the Mandate. The French authorities responded by arresting a number of prominent Lebanese politicians, including the president, the prime minister, and other cabinet members, and exiling them to the Castle of Rashayya. This action united the Christian and Muslim leaders in their determination to get rid of the French. France, finally yielding to mounting internal pressure and to the influence of Britain, the United States, and the Arab countries, released the prisoners at Rashayya on November 22, 1943 since then, this day has been celebrated as Independence Day.

The ending of the French Mandate left Lebanon a mixed legacy. When the Mandate began, Lebanon was still suffering from the religious conflicts of the 1860s and from World War I. The French authorities were concerned not only with maintaining control over the country but also with rebuilding the Lebanese economy and social systems. They repaired and enlarged the harbor of Beirut and developed a network of roads linking the major cities. They also began to develop a governmental structure that included new administrative and judicial systems and a new civil code. They improved the education system, agriculture, public health, and the standard of living. Concurrently, however, they linked the Lebanese currency to the depreciating French franc, tying the Lebanese economy to that of France. This action had a negative impact on Lebanon. Another negative effect of the Mandate was the place given to French as a language of instruction, a move that favored Christians at the expense of Muslims.

The foundations of the new Lebanese state were established in 1943 by an unwritten agreement between the two most prominent Christian and Muslim leaders, Khuri and Sulh. The contents of this agreement, later known as the National Pact or National Covenant (al Mithaq al Watani), were approved and supported by their followers. The National Pact laid down four principles. First, Lebanon was to be a completely independent state. The Christian communities were to cease identifying with the West in return, the Muslim communities were to protect the independence of Lebanon and prevent its merger with any Arab state. Second, although Lebanon is an Arab country with Arabic as its official language, it could not cut off its spiritual and intellectual ties with the West, which had helped it attain such a notable degree of progress. Third, Lebanon, as a member of the family of Arab states, should cooperate with the other Arab states, and in case of conflict among them, it should not side with one state against another. Fourth, public offices should be distributed proportionally among the recognized religious groups, but in technical positions preference should be given to competence without regard to confessional considerations. Moreover, the three top government positions should be distributed as follows: the president of the republic should be a Maronite the prime minister, a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, a Shia Muslim. The ratio of deputies was to be six Christians to five Muslims.

From the beginning, the balance provided for in the National Pact was fragile. Many observers believed that any serious internal or external pressure might threaten the stability of the Lebanese political system, as was to happen in 1975. Lebanon became a member of the League of Arab States (Arab League) on March 22, 1945. It also participated in the San Francisco Conference of the United Nations (UN) and became a member in 1945. On December 31, 1946, French troops were completely withdrawn from the country, with the signing of the Franco-Lebanese Treaty.

The history of Lebanon during the 1943-75 period was dominated by prominent family networks and patron-client relationships. Each sectarian community had its prominent family: the Khuris, Shamuns, Shihabs, Franjiyahs, and Jumayyils for the Maronites the Sulhs, Karamis, and Yafis for the Sunnis the Jumblatts, Yazbaks, and Arslans for the Druzes and the Asads and Hamadahs for the Shias. Notable events of this era included the expulsion of large numbers of Palestinian guerrillas from Jordan in late 1970 and 1971, as a result of severe clashes between the Jordanian army and the PLO, had serious repercussions for Lebanon, however. Many of the guerrillas entered Lebanon, seeing it as the most suitable base for launching raids against Israel. The guerrillas tended to ally themselves with existing leftist Lebanese organizations or to form various new leftist groups that received support from the Lebanese Muslim community and caused further splintering in the Lebanese body politic. Clashes between the Palestinians and Lebanese right-wing groups, as well as demonstrations on behalf of the guerrillas, occurred during the latter half of 1971. PLO head Arafat held discussions with leading Lebanese government figures, who sought to establish acceptable limits of guerrilla activity in Lebanon under the 1969 Cairo Agreement.

The October 1973 War overshadowed disagreements about the role of the guerrillas in Lebanon. Despite Lebanon's policy of noninvolvement, the war deeply affected the country's subsequent history. As the PLO's military influence in the south grew, so too did the disaffection of the Shia community that lived there, which was exposed to varying degrees of unsympathetic Lebanese control, indifferent or antipathetic PLO attitudes, and hostile Israeli actions. The Franjiyah government proved less and less able to deal with these rising tensions, and by the onset of the Civil War in April 1975, political fragmentation was accelerating.


Lebanese Edit

Ethnic background is an important factor in Lebanon. The country encompasses a great mix of cultural, religious, and ethnic groups which have been building up for more than 6,000 years. The Arabs invaded and occupied Phoenicia in the 7th century AD from Arabia. The predominant cultural backgrounds and ancestry of the Lebanese vary from Canaanite (Phoenician), Aramean (Ancient Syria) and Greek (Byzantine). The question of ethnic identity has come to revolve increasingly around aspects of cultural self-identification more than descent. Religious affiliation has also become a substitute in some respects for ethnic affiliation. [8]

Generally, the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a 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. Moreover, in a 2013 interview, the lead investigator, Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions: "Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another". [9]

The Lebanese Christians are some of the oldest Christians in the world, preceded only by the oriental Orthodox of Armenia, Ethiopia, and the Copts of Egypt. The Maronite Christians belong to the West Syriac Rite. Their Liturgical language is the Syriac-Aramaic language. [10] [11] The Melkite Greek Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox, tend to focus more on the Greco-Hellenistic heritage of the region from the days of the Byzantine Empire, and the fact that Greek was maintained as a liturgical language until very recently. Some Lebanese even claim partial descent from Crusader knights who ruled Lebanon for a couple of centuries during the Middle Ages, also backed by recent genetic studies which confirmed this among Lebanese people, especially in the north of the country that was under the Crusader County of Tripoli. This identification with non-Arab civilizations also exists in other religious communities, albeit not to the same extent.

The sectarian system Edit

Lebanon's religious divisions are extremely complicated, and the country is made up by a multitude of religious groupings. The ecclesiastical and demographic patterns of the sects and denominations are complex. Divisions and rivalries between groups date back as far as 15 centuries, and still are a factor today. The pattern of settlement has changed little since the 7th century, but instances of civil strife and ethnic cleansing, most recently during the Lebanese Civil War, has brought some important changes to the religious map of the country. (See also History of Lebanon.)

Lebanon has by far the largest proportion of Christians of any Middle Eastern country, but both Christians and Muslims are sub-divided into many splinter sects and denominations. Population statistics are highly controversial. The various denominations and sects each have vested interests in inflating their own numbers. Shias, Sunnis, Maronites and Eastern Orthodox (the four largest denominations) all often claim that their particular religious affiliation holds a majority in the country, adding up to over 150% of the total population, even before counting the other denominations. One of the rare things that most Lebanese religious leaders will agree on is to avoid a new general census, for fear that it could trigger a new round of denominational conflict. The last official census was performed in 1932.

Religion has traditionally been of overriding importance in defining the Lebanese population. Dividing state power between the religious denominations and sects, and granting religious authorities judicial power, dates back to Ottoman times (the millet system). The practice was reinforced during French mandate, when Christian groups were granted privileges. This system of government, while partly intended as a compromise between sectarian demands, has caused tensions that still dominate Lebanese politics to this day.

The Christian population majority is believed to have ended in the early 1970s, but government leaders would agree to no change in the political power balance. This led to Muslim demands of increased representation, and the constant sectarian tension slid into violent conflict in 1958 (prompting U.S. intervention) and again in the grueling Lebanese Civil War, in 1975–90.

The balance of power has been slightly adjusted in the 1943 National Pact, an informal agreement struck at independence, in which positions of power were divided according to the 1932 census. The Sunni elite was then accorded more power, but Maronites continued to dominate the system. The sectarian balance was again adjusted towards the Muslim side but simultaneously further reinforced and legitimized. Shia Muslims (by now the second largest sect) then gained additional representation in the state apparatus, and the obligatory Christian-Muslim representation in Parliament was downgraded from a 6:5 to a 1:1 ratio. Christians of various denominations were then generally thought to constitute about 40% of the population, although often Muslim leaders would cite lower numbers, and some Christians would claim that they still held a majority of the population.

18 recognized religious groups Edit

The present Lebanese Constitution officially acknowledges 18 religious groups (see below). These have the right to handle family law according to their own courts and traditions, and they are the basic players in Lebanon's complex sectarian politics.

Religious population statistics Edit

Note: stateless Palestinians and Syrians are not included in the statistics below since they do not hold Lebanese citizenship. The numbers only include the present population of Lebanon, and not the Lebanese diaspora.

The 1932 census stated that Christians made up 50% of the resident population. Maronites, largest among the Christian denomination and then largely in control of the state apparatus, accounted for 29% of the total resident population.

Total population of Lebanon was reported to be 1,411,000 in 1956. [12] The largest communities were Maronites (424,000), Sunni Muslims (286,000), Shiite Muslims(250,000), Greek Orthodox (149,000), Greek Catholics (91,000), Druzes (88,000), Armenian Orthodox (64,000), Armenian Catholics (15,000), Protestants (14,000), Jews (7,000), Syriac Catholics (6,000), Syriac Orthodox (5,000), Latins (4,000) and Nestorian Chaldeans (1,000). [12]

A 2010 study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, cited by the United States Department of State found that of Lebanon's population of approximately 4.3 million was estimated to be: [13]

  • 45%Christian (Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Protestant, other Christian denominations non-native to Lebanon like Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, and Copt)
  • 48%Islam (Shia and Sunni)
  • 5.2%Druze (included within the Muslim group in the Lebanese Constitution.)

There is also a very small number of other religious minorities such as, Baháʼís, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons. [13]

In 2021, the CIA World Factbook specified that of those residing in Lebanon, 61.1% are Muslims (30.6% Sunni, 30.5% Shia, with smaller percentages of Alawites and Ismailis), 33.7% are Christians (mostly Maronites, Eastern Orthodox, Melkite Catholics, Protestant, Armenian Apostolic, Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean Catholic, Syrian Catholic), 5.2% are Druze, and there are "very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, and Hindus". [14]

Census of 1932 Edit

Residents Emigrants before 30/08/1924 Emigrants after 30/08/1924
paying taxes does not pay paying taxes does not pay
Sunni 178,100 2,653 9,840 1,089 3,623
Shi'i 155,035 2,977 4,543 1,770 2,220
Druze 53,334 2,067 3,205 1,183 2,295
Maronite 227,800 31,697 58,457 11,434 21,809
Greek Catholic 46,709 7,190 16,544 1,855 4,038
Greek Orthodox 77,312 12,547 31,521 3,922 9,041
Protestant 6,869 607 1,575 174 575
Armenian Orthodox 26,102 1 60 191 1,718
Armenian Catholic 5,890 9 50 20 375
Syriac Orthodox 2,723 6 34 3 54
Syriac Catholic 2,803 9 196 6 101
Jews 3,588 6 214 7 188
Chaldean Orthodox 190 0 0 0 0
Chaldean Catholic 548 0 6 0 19
Miscellaneous 6,393 212 758 59 234
Total 793,396 59,981 127,003 21,713 46,290
Foreigners 61.297
source [15]

Muslims Edit

According to the CIA World Factbook, [14] in 2018 the Muslim population was estimated at 61.1% within Lebanese territory and 20% of the over 4 million [4] [5] [6] Lebanese diaspora population. In 2012 a more detailed breakdown of the size of each Muslim sect in Lebanon was made:

  • The Shia Muslims are around 22.5% [16] –29% [17][18] of the total population. The Speaker of Parliament is always a Shia Muslim, as it is the only high post that Shias are eligible for. [19][20][21][22] The Shias are largely concentrated in northern and western Beqaa, Southern Lebanon and in the southern suburbs of Beirut. [23]
  • The Sunni Muslims constitute also about 25.5% [23] –29% [16] of the total population. Sunni notables traditionally held power in the Lebanese state together, and they are still the only sect eligible for the post of Prime Minister[24] Sunnis are mostly concentrated in west Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, Central and Western Beqaa, and Akkar in the north. [23]
  • Other Muslim sects have a small presence, with the Isma'ilis and Alawites combined comprising less than 1% of the population and are included among Lebanese Shia Muslims.

Christians Edit

According to the CIA World Factbook, [14] in 2021, the Christian population in Lebanon was estimated at 33.7%. In 2012 a more detailed breakdown of the size of each Christian sect in Lebanon was made:

  • The Maronites are the largest of the Christian groups about 30% [16] of the population of Lebanon. They have had a long and continuous association with the Roman Catholic Church, but have their own patriarch, liturgy, and customs. Traditionally they had good relations with the Western world, especially France[25] and the Vatican. [26] They traditionally dominated the Lebanese government. Their influence in later years has diminished, because of their relative decrease in numbers but also due to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, which generally benefited Shia communities, and was resisted by most of the others. Today the Maronites are believed to compose about 26% of the population, scattered around the Lebanese countryside but with heavy concentrations on Mount Lebanon and in Beirut (Greater Beirut).
  • The second largest Christian group is the Eastern Orthodox that constitute at least 9% [16] of the population. The church exists in many parts of the Arab world and Eastern Orthodox Christians have often been noted for pan-Arab or pan-Syrian leanings it has had less dealings with Western countries than the Maronites. The Eastern Orthodox Lebanese Christians have a long and continuous association with Eastern Orthodox European countries like Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the deputy Prime Minister are reserved for Eastern Orthodox Christians.
  • The Melkite Catholics are thought to constitute about 6% [16] of the population.
  • The Protestants are thought to constitute about 1% [16] of the population.
  • The remaining Christian churches are thought to constitute another 5% [16] of the population (Roman Catholics, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, and Assyrians.)

Druze Edit

The Druze constitute 5.2% [14] of the population and can be found primarily in the rural, mountainous areas of Mount Lebanon and the Chouf District. Traditionally, the Druze tended to prefer Syria over the West, but after the civil war and the emergence of Hezbollah, the Druze hold a powerful negativity towards the Syrian Regime, Iran, and Hezbollah, and now the Druze strongly prefer to ally with the West. Even though the faith originally developed out of Ismaili Islam, most Druze do not identify as Muslims, [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] and they do not accept the five pillars of Islam. [32]

Other religions Edit

Other religions account for only an estimated 0.3% of the population mainly foreign temporary workers, according to the CIA World Factbook. There remains a very small Jewish population, traditionally centered in Beirut. It has been larger: most Jews left the country after the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) as thousands of Lebanese did at that time.

Apart from the four and a half million citizens of Lebanon proper, there is a sizeable Lebanese diaspora. There are more Lebanese people living outside of Lebanon (over 4 million [33] [34] [35] ), than within (4.6 million citizens plus 1.5 million refugees). The majority of the diaspora population consists of Lebanese Christians however, there are some who are Muslim. They trace their origin to several waves of Christian emigration, starting with the exodus that followed the 1860 Lebanon conflict in Ottoman Syria.

Under the current Lebanese nationality law, diaspora Lebanese do not have an automatic right of return to Lebanon. Due to varying degrees of assimilation and high degree of interethnic marriages, most diaspora Lebanese have not passed on the Arabic language to their children, while still maintaining a Lebanese ethnic identity.

Many Lebanese families are economically and politically prominent in several Latin American countries (in 2007 Mexican Carlos Slim Helú, son of Lebanese immigrants, was determined to be the wealthiest man in the World by Fortune Magazine), and make up a substantial portion of the Lebanese American community in the United States. The largest Lebanese diaspora is located in Brazil, where about 6–7 million people have Lebanese descent (see Lebanese Brazilian). In Argentina, there is also a large Lebanese diaspora of approximately 1.5 million people having Lebanese descent. (see Lebanese Argentine). In Canada, there is also a large Lebanese diaspora of approximately 250,000-500,000 people having Lebanese descent. (see Lebanese Canadians).

There are also sizable populations in West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Senegal.

The large size of Lebanon's diaspora may be partly explained by the historical and cultural tradition of seafaring and traveling, which stretches back to Lebanon's ancient Phoenician origins and its role as a "gateway" of relations between Europe and the Middle East. It has been commonplace for Lebanese citizens to emigrate in search of economic prosperity. Furthermore, on several occasions in the last two centuries the Lebanese population has endured periods of ethnic cleansing and displacement (for example, 1840–60 and 1975–90). These factors have contributed to the geographical mobility of the Lebanese people.

While under Syrian occupation, Beirut passed legislation which prevented second-generation Lebanese of the diaspora from automatically obtaining Lebanese citizenship. This has reinforced the émigré status of many diaspora Lebanese. There is currently a campaign by those Lebanese of the diaspora who already have Lebanese citizenship to attain the vote from abroad, which has been successfully passed in the Lebanese parliament and will be effective as of 2013 which is the next parliamentary elections. If suffrage was to be extended to these 1.2 [ citation needed ] million Lebanese émigré citizens, it would have a significant political effect, since as many as 80% of them are believed to be Christian. [ citation needed ]

Lebanese Civil War refugees and displaced persons Edit

With no official figures available, it is estimated that 600,000–900,000 persons fled the country during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90). Although some have since returned, this permanently disturbed Lebanese population growth and greatly complicated demographic statistics.

Another result of the war was a large number of internally displaced persons. This especially affected the southern Shia community, as Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1978, 1982, and 1996 prompted waves of mass emigration, in addition to the continual strain of occupation and fighting between Israel and Hezbollah (mainly 1982 to 2000).

Many Shias from Southern Lebanon resettled in the suburbs south of Beirut. After the war, the pace of Christian emigration accelerated, as many Christians felt discriminated against in a Lebanon under increasingly oppressive Syrian occupation.

According to a UNDP study, as much as 10% of the Lebanese had a disability in 1990. [36] Other studies have pointed to the fact that this portion of society is highly marginalized due to the lack of educational and governmental support of their advancement. [36]

Arabic is the official language of the country. Lebanese Arabic is mostly spoken in non-official contexts. French and English are taught in many schools from a young age. Among the Armenian ethnic minority in Lebanon, the Armenian language is taught and spoken within the Armenian community. Many younger Lebanese people (between 10 and 40) use English and French almost as much as Arabic.

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.

  • 0–14 years: 23.32% (male 728,025/female 694,453) 15–24 years: 16.04% (male 500,592/female 477,784) 25–54 years: 45.27% (male 1,398,087/female 1,363,386) 55–64 years: 8.34% (male 241,206/female 267,747) 65 years and over: 7.03% (male 185,780/female 243,015) (2018 est.)
  • Median age:
  • Population growth rate:
  • Net migration rate:
  • Sex ratio:
  • Life expectancy at birth:

UN estimates [37] Edit

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR 1 CDR 1 NC 1 TFR 1 IMR 1
1950–1955 61,000 24,000 38,000 39.9 15.4 24.4 5.74 90.0
1955–1960 70,000 23,000 47,000 39.3 12.7 26.6 5.72 72.8
1960–1965 77,000 22,000 55,000 37.6 10.7 26.9 5.69 61.1
1965–1970 81,000 21,000 59,000 34.5 9.2 25.3 5.34 53.4
1970–1975 83,000 21,000 62,000 31.9 8.1 23.8 4.78 47.0
1975–1980 85 000 22 000 63 000 30.5 7.8 22.7 4.31 44.2
1980–1985 84,000 21,000 62,000 29.5 7.6 21.9 3.90 40.6
1985–1990 78,000 21,000 57,000 26.7 7.3 19.4 3.31 36.8
1990–1995 80,000 23,000 57,000 24.8 7.1 17.8 3.00 31.4
1995–2000 81,000 26,000 56,000 22.6 7.1 15.5 2.70 28.1
2000–2005 69,000 27,000 42,000 17.7 6.9 10.8 2.09 25.6
2005–2010 66,000 28,000 38,000 15.9 6.9 9.1 1.86 22.7
2010–2015 63,000 29,000 34,000 14.8 7.1 7.7 1.81 18.7
1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000) CDR = crude death rate (per 1000) NC = natural change (per 1000) TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman) IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births

Registered births and deaths [38] Edit

Life expectancy [39] Edit

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950–1955 60.5 1985–1990 69.6
1955–1960 62.4 1990–1995 71.0
1960–1965 64.0 1995–2000 73.2
1965–1970 65.4 2000–2005 75.5
1970–1975 66.7 2005–2010 77.7
1975–1980 67.6 2010–2015 78.9
1980–1985 68.4

There are substantial numbers of immigrants from other Arab countries (mainly Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Egypt) and non-Arab-speaking Muslim countries. Also, recent years have seen an influx of people from Ethiopia [40] and South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, [41] as well as smaller numbers of other immigrant minorities, Colombians and Brazilians (of Lebanese descent themselves). Most of these are employed as guest workers in the same fashion as Syrians and Palestinians, and entered the country to search for employment in the post-war reconstruction of Lebanon. Apart from the Palestinians, there are approximately 180,000 stateless persons in Lebanon.

Armenians, Jews and Iranians Edit

Lebanese Armenians, Jews and Iranians form more distinct ethnic minorities, all of them in possession of a separate languages (Armenian, Hebrew, Persian) and a national home area (Armenia, Israel, Iran) outside of Lebanon. However, they combined total 5% of the population.

French and Italians Edit

During the French Mandate of Lebanon, there was a fairly large French minority and a tiny Italian minority. Most of the French and Italian settlers left after Lebanese independence in 1943 and only 22,000 French Lebanese and 4,300 Italian Lebanese continue to live in Lebanon. The most important legacy of the French Mandate is the frequent use and knowledge of the French language by most of the educated Lebanese people, and Beirut is still known as the "Paris of the Middle East".

Palestinians Edit

Around 175,555 Palestinian refugees were registered in Lebanon with the UNRWA in 2014, who are refugees or descendants of refugees from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Some 53% live in 12 Palestine refugee camps, who "suffer from serious problems" such as poverty and overcrowding. [42] Some of these may have emigrated during the civil war, but there are no reliable figures available. There are also a number of Palestinians who are not registered as UNRWA refugees, because they left earlier than 1948 or were not in need of material assistance. The exact number of Palestinians remain a subject of great dispute and the Lebanese government will not provide an estimate. A figure of 400,000 Palestinian refugees would mean that Palestinians constitute less than 7% of the resident population of Lebanon.

Palestinians living in Lebanon are considered foreigners and are under the same restrictions on employment applied to other foreigners. Prior to 2010, they were under even more restrictive employment rules which permitted, other than work for the U.N., only the most menial employment. They are not allowed to attend public schools, own property, or make an enforceable will. [43] Palestinian refugees, who constitute nearly 6.6% of the country's population, have long been denied basic rights in Lebanon. They are not allowed to attend public schools, own property or pass on inheritances, measures Lebanon says it has adopted to preserve their right to return to their property in what constitutes Israel now.

Their presence is controversial, and resisted by large segments of the Christian population, who argue that the primarily Sunni Muslim Palestinians dilute Christian numbers. Many Shia Muslims also look unfavorably upon the Palestinian presence since the refugee camps have tended to be concentrated in their home areas. The Lebanese Sunnis, however, would be happy to see these Palestinians given the Lebanese nationality, thus increasing the Lebanese Sunni population by well over 10% and tipping the fragile electoral balance much in favor of the Sunnis. Late prime minister Rafiq Hariri —himself a Sunni— had hinted on more than one occasion on the inevitability of granting these refugees Lebanese citizenship. Thus far the refugees lack Lebanese citizenship as well as many rights enjoyed by the rest of the population, and are confined to severely overcrowded refugee camps, in which construction rights are severely constricted.

Palestinians may not work in a large number of professions, such as lawyers and doctors. However, after negotiations between Lebanese authorities and ministers from the Palestinian National Authority some professions for Palestinians were allowed (such as taxi driver and construction worker). The material situation of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is difficult, and they are believed to constitute the poorest community in Lebanon, as well as the poorest Palestinian community with the possible exception of Gaza Strip refugees. Their primary sources of income are UNRWA aid and menial labor sought in competition with Syrian guest workers.

The Palestinians are almost totally Sunni Muslim, though at some point Christians counted as high as 40% with Muslims at 60%. The numbers of Palestinian Christians has diminished in later years, as many have managed to leave Lebanon. During the Lebanese Civil War, Palestinian Christians sided with the rest of the Palestinian community, instead of allying with Lebanese Eastern Orthodox or other Christian communities.

60,000 Palestinians have received Lebanese citizenship, including most Christian Palestinians. [44] [45]

Syrians Edit

In 1976, the then Syrian president Hafez al-Assad sent troops into Lebanon to fight PLO forces on behalf of Christian militias. This led to escalated fighting until a cease-fire agreement later that year that allowed for the stationing of Syrian troops within Lebanon. The Syrian presence in Lebanon quickly changed sides soon after they entered Lebanon they had flip-flopped and began to fight the Christian nationalists in Lebanon they allegedly entered the country to protect. The Kateab Party and the Lebanese Forces under Bachir Gemayel strongly resisted the Syrians in Lebanon. In 1989, 40,000 Syrian troops remained in central and eastern Lebanon under the supervision of the Syrian government. Although, the Taif Accord, established in the same year, called for the removal of Syrian troops and transfer of arms to the Lebanese army, the Syrian Army remained in Lebanon until the Lebanese Cedar Revolution in 2005 ended the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.

In 1994, the Lebanese government under the pressure of the Syrian government, gave Lebanese passports to thousands of Syrians. [46]

There are nearly 1.08 million registered [47] Syrian refugees in Lebanon. [48]

Assyrians Edit

There are an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Assyrian refugees in Lebanon. The vast majority of them are undocumented, with a large number having been deported or put in prison. [49] They belong to various denominations, including the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, and Syriac Catholic Church.

Iraqis Edit

Due to the US-led invasion of Iraq, Lebanon received a mass influx of Iraqi refugees numbering at around 100,000. The vast majority of them are undocumented, with a large number having been deported or put in prison. [49]

Kurds Edit

There are an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Kurdish refugees from Turkey and Syria within Lebanese territory. Many of them are undocumented. As of 2012, around 40% of all Kurds in Lebanon do not have Lebanese citizenship. [50]

Turks Edit

The Turkish people began to migrate to Lebanon once the Ottoman sultan Selim I conquered the region in 1516. Turks were encouraged to stay in Lebanon by being rewarded with land and money. [51] Today the Turkish minority numbers approximately 80,000. [52] Moreover, since the Syrian Civil War, approximately 125,000 to 150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees arrived in Lebanon, and hence they now outnumber the long established Turkish minority who settled since the Ottoman era. [53] [54]

Circassians Edit

The Circassians migrated to the Ottoman Empire including Lebanon and neighboring countries in the 18th and 19th century. However, they are mostly located in Akkar Governorate, in which they have come to Berkail since 1754. Today the Circassian minority numbers approximately 100,000. [55] [56]