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World Factbook (1982) Lebanon.jpg
(See reference map VI)


10,360 km²; 27% agricultural land, 64% desert, waste, or urban, 9% forested

Land boundaries: 531 km


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): no specific claims (fishing, 6 nm)

Coastline: 225 km


Population: 3,177,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 2.6%; this estimate does not take into account any demographic consequences of the 1975-76 civil war

Nationality: noun—Lebanese (sing., pl.); adjective—Lebanese

Ethnic divisions: 93% Arab, 6% Armenian, 1% other

Religion: 55% Christian, 44% Muslim and Druze, 1% other (official estimates); Muslims, in fact, constitute a majority

Language: Arabic (official); French is widely spoken

Literacy: 86%

Labor force: about 1 million economically active; 49% agriculture, 11% industry, 14% commerce, 26% other; moderate unemployment

Organized labor: about 65,000


NOTE: Between early 1975 and late 1976, Lebanon was torn by civil war between its Christians—then aided by Syrian troops—and its Muslims and their Palestinian allies. The cease-fire established in October 1976 between the domestic political groups has generally held, despite occasional fighting, although the country is still under the occupation of Syrian troops constituted as the Arab Deterrent Force by the Arab League. In March 1978 southern Lebanon was invaded by Israeli troops. When the Israelis withdrew in June, they turned much of the south over to a United Nations interim force but left Christian militias in control of zones along the border. The country's own army is gradually being reestablished but is still too fragile to give the central government effective power. Syria's move toward supporting the Lebanese Muslims and the Palestinians and Israel's growing support for Lebanese Christians have brought the two sides into rough equilibrium, but no progress has been made on national reconciliation or political reforms—the original cause of the war. The following description is based on the present constitutional and customary practices of the Lebanese system.

Official name: Republic of Lebanon

Type: republic

Capital: Beirut

Political subdivisions: 5 provinces

Legal system: mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, and civil law system; constitution mandated in 1926; no judicial review of legislative acts; legal education at Lebanese University; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 22 November

Branches: power lies with President elected by parliament (Chamber of Deputies); Cabinet appointed by President, approved by parliament; independent secular courts on French pattern; religious courts for matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.; by custom, President is a Maronite Christian, Prime Minister is a Sunni Muslim, and president of parliament is a Shia Muslim; each of nine religious communities represented in parliament in proportion to national numerical strength

Government leader: President Elias SARKIS

Suffrage: compulsory for all males over 21; authorized for women over 21 with elementary education

Elections: Chamber of Deputies held every four years or within three months of dissolution of Chamber; security conditions have prevented parliamentary elections since April 1972

Political parties and leaders: political party activity is organized along largely sectarian lines; numerous political groupings exist, consisting of individual political figures and followers motivated by religious, clan, and economic considerations; most parties have well-armed militias which are still involved in occasional clashes

Communists: the Lebanese Communist Party was legalized in 1970; members and sympathizers estimated at 2,000-3,000

Other political or pressure groups: Palestinian guerrilla organizations

Member of: Arab League, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMCO, IMF, IPU, ISCON, ITU, IWC—International Wheat Council, NAM, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WSG, WTO


Agriculture: fruits, wheat, corn, barley, potatoes, tobacco, olives, onions; not self-sufficient in food

Major industries: service industries, food processing, textiles, cement, oil refining, chemicals, some metal fabricating, tourism

Electric power: 604,000 kW capacity (1980); 2.325 billion kWh produced (1980), 760 kWh per capita

Exports: $817 million (f.o.b., 1980)

Imports: $3.2 billion (f.o.b., 1980)

Budget: (1981) public revenue $942 million, current expenditures $941 million, development expenditures $327 million

Monetary conversion rate: 4.61 Lebanese pounds=US$1 as of October 1981

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 378 km total; 296 km standard gauge (1.435 m), 82 km 1.050-meter gauge; all single track

Highways: 7,370 km total; 6,270 km paved, 450 km gravel and crushed stone, 650 km improved earth

Pipelines: crude oil, 72 km

Ports: 3 major (Beirut, Tripoli, Sayda), 5 minor

Civil air: 36 major transport aircraft, including 2 leased out and 4 leased in

Airfields: 8 total, 6 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; 3 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m; major military airfields are Riyaq and Kleiat

Telecommunications: rebuilding program disrupted; international facilities restored, domestic being rebuilt; fair system of radio relay, cable; approx 125,000 telephones (5.0 per 100 popl.); 2 FM, 4 AM, and 7 TV stations; 1 Indian Ocean satellite station; 3 submarine cables; planned second satellite station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 719,000; 443,000 fit for military service; average of about 40,000 reach military age (18) annually

Military budget: for fiscal year ending 31 December 1982, $272 million; 26% of central government budget