Lebanon

Lebanon

Once a vibrant cultural hot-spot, Lebanon suffered badly from years of civil war and occupation until a 1989 peace deal. Reconstruction was reversed by Israeli bombardment in 2006.

Geography: Behind a narrow Mediterranean coastal plain, two parallel mountain ranges run the length of the country, separated by the fertile Beqaa Valley.

Climate: Winters are mild and summers are hot, with high coastal humidity. Snow falls on high ground in winter.

People and Society: Politics has long been dominated by divisions between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims and the traditional ruling Maronite Christians. Power-sharing ended 14 years of civil war in 1989. Syria acted as power broker until made to withdraw in 2005. Israel attacked in 2006 in a botched bid to crush Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants. A huge gulf exists between the poor and a small, immensely rich elite. Lebanon hosts 420,000 Palestinian refugees.

The Economy: Much infrastructure destroyed. Instability undermines Beirut’s role as regional financial center. Wine and fruit production. High public debt.

Insight: The Cedar of Lebanon has been the nation’s symbol for more than 2000 years

Fact File:

Official Name: Republic of Lebanon

Date of Formation: 1941

Capital: Beirut

Population: 4.22 million

Total Area: 4015 sq. miles(10,400 sq. km)

Density: 1069 people per sq. mile

Languages: Arabic*, French, Armenian, Assyrian

Religions: Muslim 70%,Christian 30%

Ethnic Mix: Arab 94%, Armenian 4%, other 2%

Government: Parliamentary system

Currency: Lebanese pound = 100 piastres

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