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Lebanon Facts

Law Firm Lebanon: Facts about Lebanon


Background: Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since the end of the devastating 16-year civil war, which ended in 1991. Under the Ta’if Accord—the blueprint for national reconciliation—the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater say in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government.


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

Geographic coordinates: 33 50 N, 35 50 E

Map references: Middle East


total: 10,452 sq km

land: 10,230 sq km

water: 170 sq km

Area—comparative: about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries:

total: 454 km

border countries: Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km

Coastline: 225 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows

Terrain: narrow coastal plain; Al Biqa’ (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

highest point: Jabal al Makmal 3,087 m

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

Land use:

arable land: 21%

permanent crops: 9%

permanent pastures: 1%

forests and woodland: 8%

other: 61% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 860 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms

Environment—current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Beirut from vehicular traffic and the burning of industrial wastes; pollution of coastal waters from raw sewage and oil spills

Environment—international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

Geography—note: Nahr al Litani only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity


Population: 3,562,699 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 30% (male 535,596; female 515,776)

15-64 years: 64% (male 1,084,121; female 1,196,678)

65 years and over: 6% (male 105,133; female 125,395) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.61% (1999 est.)

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

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

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

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female

total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

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

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 70.93 years

male: 68.34 years

female: 73.66 years (1999 est.)

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


noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)

adjective: Lebanese

Ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%

Religions: Islam 70% (5 legally recognized Islamic groups—Alawite or Nusayri, Druze, Isma’ilite, Shi’a, Sunni), Christian 30% (11 legally recognized Christian groups—4 Orthodox Christian, 6 Catholic, 1 Protestant), Judaism NEGL%

Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian widely understood


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 86.4%

male: 90.8%

female: 82.2% (1997 est.)


Country name:

conventional long form: Lebanese Republic

conventional short form: Lebanon

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah

local short form: Lubnan

Data code: LE

Government type: republic

Capital: Beirut

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

Independence: 22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday: Independence Day, 22 November (1943)

Constitution: 23 May 1926, amended a number of times

Legal system: mixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Michel Suleiman

head of government: Prime Minister Najib Mikati

cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly.

elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term; election last held 2005 prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly; by custom, the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the legislature is a Shi’a Muslim

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis Alnuwab (Arabic) or Assemblee Nationale (French) (128 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms)

election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—NA (one-half Christian and one-half Muslim)

Judicial branch: four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases); Constitutional Council (called for in Ta’if Accord) rules on constitutionality of laws; Supreme Council (hears charges against the president and prime minister as needed)

Political parties and leaders: political party activity is organized along largely sectarian lines; numerous political groupings exist, consisting of individual political figures and followers motivated by religious, clan, and economic considerations

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

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


Economy—overview: The 1975-91 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon’s economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon’s position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Peace has enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange. Lebanon’s economy has made impressive gains since the launch of “Horizon 2000,” the government’s $20 billion reconstruction program in 1993. Real GDP grew 8% in 1994 and 7% in 1995 before Israel’s Operation Grapes of Wrath in April 1996 stunted economic activity. During 1992-98, annual inflation fell from more than 100% to 5%, and foreign exchange reserves jumped to more than $6 billion from $1.4 billion. Burgeoning capital inflows have generated foreign payments surpluses, and the Lebanese pound has remained relatively stable. Progress also has been made in rebuilding Lebanon’s war-torn physical and financial infrastructure. Solidere, a $2-billion firm, is managing the reconstruction of Beirut’s central business district; the stock market reopened in January 1996; and international banks and insurance companies are returning. The government nonetheless faces serious challenges in the economic arena. It has had to fund reconstruction by tapping foreign exchange reserves and boosting borrowing. Reducing the government budget deficit is a major goal of the LAHUD government. The stalled peace process and ongoing violence in southern Lebanon could lead to wider hostilities that would disrupt vital capital inflows. Furthermore, the gap between rich and poor has widened in the 1990’s, resulting in grassroots dissatisfaction over the skewed distribution of the reconstruction’s benefits and leading the government to shift its focus from rebuilding infrastructure to improving living conditions.

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

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1998 est.)

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

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 4%

industry: 23%

services: 73% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

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

Labor force: 1 million

note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (1996 est.)

Labor force—by occupation: services 62%, industry 31%, agriculture 7% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate: 18% (1997 est.)


revenues: $4.9 billion

expenditures: $7.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)

Industries: banking; food processing; jewelry; cement; textiles; mineral and chemical products; wood and furniture products; oil refining; metal fabricating

Industrial production growth rate: 25% (1993 est.)

Electricity—production: 8.4 billion kWh (1997 est.)

Electricity—production by source:

fossil fuel: 87.72%

hydro: 12.28%

nuclear: 0%

other: 0% (1996)

Electricity—consumption: 6.01 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

Electricity—imports: 310 million kWh (1996)

Agriculture—products: citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco, hemp (hashish); sheep, goats

Exports: $711 million (f.o.b., 1997)

Exports—commodities: foodstuffs and tobacco 20%, textiles 12%, chemicals 11%, metal and metal products 11%, electrical equipment and products 10%, jewelry 10%, paper and paper products 8% (1997)

Exports—partners: Saudi Arabia 14%, UAE 9%, France 7%, Syria 6%, US 6%, Kuwait 4%, Jordan 4%, Turkey 4%

Imports: $7.5 billion (c.i.f., 1997)

Imports—commodities: foodstuffs 29%, machinery and transport equipment 28%, consumer goods 18%, chemicals 9%, textiles 5%, metals 5%, fuels 3%, agricultural foods 3% (1997)

Imports—partners: Italy 13%, US 9%, France 9%, Germany 8%, Switzerland 7%, Japan 4%, UK 4%, Syria 4% (1997)

Debt—external: $3 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid—recipient: $3.5 billion (pledges 1997-2001)

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

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

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 150,000 (1990 est.)

Telephone system: telecommunications system severely damaged by civil war; rebuilding well underway

domestic: primarily microwave radio relay and cable

international: satellite earth stations—2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean) (erratic operations); coaxial cable to Syria; microwave radio relay to Syria but inoperable beyond Syria to Jordan; 3 submarine coaxial cables

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 3, shortwave 1

note: government is licensing a limited number of the more than 100 AM and FM stations operated sporadically by various factions that sprang up during the civil war

Radios: 2.37 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 28 (1997)

Televisions: 1.1 million (1993 est.)



total: 222 km

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


total: 6,270 km

paved: 6,270 km

unpaved: 0 km (1998 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 72 km (none in operation)

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

Merchant marine:

total: 64 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 267,562 GRT/403,252 DWT

ships by type: bulk 6, cargo 41, chemical tanker 1, combination bulk 1, combination ore/oil 1, container 3, livestock carrier 6, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, vehicle carrier 3 (1998 est.)

Airports: 9 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:

total: 7

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:

total: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (1998 est.)


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

Military manpower—availability:

males age 15-49: 925,834 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:

males age 15-49: 573,093 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $445 million (1997)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 5% (1997)

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