|State and form of government||parliamentary republic|
|Head of state||President Michel Aoun|
|Head of government||
Prime Minister Hassan Diab (in office after resignation)
Saad Hariri ( designated )
|population||6,100,075 (July 2018, estimated)|
|Population density||583 inhabitants per km²|
|Population development||+ 0.84% (2016) per year|
gross domestic product
|Human Development Index||0.744 ( 92nd ) (2019)|
|currency||Lebanese pound (LBP)|
|independence||November 22, 1943
(from France )
|National anthem||Kullunā li-l-watan li-l-ʿulā li-l-ʿalam|
|National holiday||22nd of November|
UTC + 2
UTC + 3 (March to October)
|ISO 3166||LB , LBN, 422|
The Lebanon ([ liːbanɔn ] official: Lebanese Republic ; Arabic الجمهورية اللبنانية) is a state in the Middle East on the Mediterranean Sea . It borders Syria to the north and east and Israel along the Blue Line to the south . In the west it is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon is counted among the Mashrek countries and the Levant . The Lebanon Mountains , which are up to 3000 meters high, are covered in snow in winter. The country's name, which goes back to the Semitic root lbn (“white”), is derived from its white peaks .
The country is divided into four landscape zones that run parallel to the coast:
- The 225 km long, narrow, steep coastal strip that only expands to the north and south.
- The heavily rugged Lebanon Mountains
- The Bekaa plain , which lies in the rain shadow of the Lebanon Mountains, is very fertile due to artificial irrigation ( viticulture , grain, dairy farming, fruit)
- The dry Anti-Lebanon mountain range and the Hermon , which forms the border with Syria.
At 140 kilometers, the Litani is the longest river in Lebanon, the course of which lies entirely within the national territory. Other notable rivers are the Orontes , which flows into Syria and Turkey, and the Hasbani , one of the three source rivers of the Jordan .
According to the differences in the landscape of Lebanon, the climate is also very different. The coast has a Mediterranean climate with dry, warm summers and humid, rainy winters . In the mountains there is a pronounced mountain climate, with the main precipitation falling in winter and then mainly in the form of snow . On the border with Syria there is a dry steppe climate , which forms the transition to the desert climate of southern Syria and Jordan . In Beirut, daytime temperatures average 18 ° C in January and 30 ° C in July and August. December and January have an average of 11 rainy days in Beirut, while August generally remains completely dry.
Lebanon has a population of around 6.23 million (as of 2017, estimated). 95% of them are of Arab , 4% of Armenian , 1% of other descent. There are also Kurdish refugees, 408,438 Palestinian , Iraqi and Syrian refugees registered with UNRWA . There are also Arabic-speaking Mhallamis from Turkey who immigrated to Lebanon mainly in the 1920s and 1940s.
Since Lebanon has shown a very strong rural exodus for the past 50 years , the majority of the population lives in cities, especially in the capital Beirut and suburbs. Almost half of the Lebanese live and work there.
At around 79 years of age, Lebanon has one of the highest life expectancies in the Arab world between 2010 and 2015. At the same time a relatively low fertility rate of 1.6 children per woman. Therefore, it is expected that the country's population will age significantly in the next few decades.
- Adult literacy rate (> 15 years) 2015 (estimated): 93.9%
- 2011 birth rate (estimated): 1.6 children per woman
- Child mortality 2011 (estimated): 1.5%
- Death rate 2011 (estimated): 0.6%
The population structure had changed significantly from 2011 onwards due to the influx of numerous refugees from the Syrian civil war ; the country took in around 1.5 million Syrians. Refugees make up around a quarter of Lebanon's resident population. The rapid increase in population within a few years is a major burden on the economy and infrastructure. There are bottlenecks in the supply of electricity and drinking water, the already deficient infrastructure of which cannot cope with the additional demand.
In 2013 there were more Syrian school-age children than Lebanese children in the country, too many to teach them all in the public education system. Between 2011 and 2013, unemployment doubled to 20%; in December 2012, 40% of all doctor visits were made by Syrian refugees.
The great majority of Lebanese speak Lebanese Arabic as their mother tongue , a dialect very similar to Syrian Arabic and Palestinian Arabic ; Standard Arabic is often used in newspapers, magazines, and the public broadcast media . Minorities speak Armenian ( Western Armenian ), Kurdish and Aramaic , which is also the liturgical language of the Maronite Church and other Syrian churches .
In addition, French is also widely used as a lingua franca and elite, and recently English as a third language . Almost 40% of the Lebanese are Francophone and a further 15% “partly Francophone”; two thirds of secondary school students in Lebanon use French as the language of instruction. Of these, a good 20% still use French every day. English is now used as a second language in a third of Lebanon's secondary schools. It is increasingly gaining importance in science and business interactions, while French is the language commonly used by intellectuals.
The mountains of Lebanon, namely the eponymous Lebanon Mountains, traditionally represent a retreat for various religious minorities. There are 18 recognized religious communities in Lebanon, the largest of which are Maronite Christians , Shiite and Sunni Muslims. There are also Druze , Rum Orthodox Christians , Melkite Greek Catholic Christians , Armenian Apostolic Christians , Alawites , Armenian Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians as well as Coptic Christians and a few Jews.
In 1956, the proportion of Christians in Lebanon was given as 54% of the population, making up the majority compared to Muslims and Druze. Because no census has been taken since 1932 , no reliable estimates are available for the size of the individual religious communities. However, it is estimated that the proportion of Christians has decreased to around 39% due to lower birth rates, higher emigration and predominantly non-Christian immigration and that they no longer constitute the majority of the country's population. The Maronites live mainly in the west and east of the country, the Orthodox Christians especially in the northwest.
According to the latest information, Muslims should now make up a share of up to 59.7%. The Sunnis live mainly in the coastal cities of Beirut , Sidon and Tripoli as well as in rural areas in the south-east and north of the country, while the Shiites live mainly in the southern suburbs (Dahiya) of Beirut, in the north-east and south. According to estimates, the number of Shiites was 780,000 in 1980 and 1.37 million in 1996. There are also the Druze , who make up 7% of the population and are no longer considered to be Shiite Muslims. The majority of the Druze live scattered in the center of the country.
Christian Lebanese in particular have emigrated from their home areas in what was then the Ottoman Empire since the middle of the 19th century as a result of religious repression . Since then, there has been a Lebanese diaspora numbering several million people , which is larger than the population of Lebanon itself. She lives mainly in North America ( USA and Canada ), Latin America , France and the francophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa . In the first few years of the civil war, more than half a million people are believed to have left the country - since official figures are not available, these are estimates.
Brazil has the largest number of people of Lebanese origin. Estimated at around 7–9 million, the Lebanese minority is predominantly made up of Christians whose ancestors came during an immigration movement in the 1850s. A large number of Lebanese also emigrated to West Africa, especially to the Ivory Coast (home to over 100,000 Lebanese) and Senegal (almost 30,000 Lebanese). Australia is home to over 270,000 Lebanese (1999 estimate). Since the late 19th century, France has been a cultural reference point, especially for the country's intellectual upper class; There has been permanent immigration of Lebanese to France since the beginning of the civil war in 1975.
In ancient times, great empires including Lebanon such as Egypt and Assyria and the largely independent Phoenician city-states Byblos , Tire and Sidon played an important role in the Mediterranean region. The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years before history was recorded. Lebanon was the home of the Canaanites / Phoenicians and their kingdoms. They formed a maritime culture that flourished for a thousand years (approx. 1550–539 BC). The trading colonies of the Phoenicians took a dominant position in the western and southern Mediterranean as the Carthaginian Empire under the leadership of Carthage until the rise of the Roman Empire. Phoenician sea traders brokered in the 8th century BC The alphabet was used as a Phoenician script in archaic Greece , where it became the basis of the Greek alphabet , from which the Latin and Cyrillic originated, and the name "Europe" probably goes back to the Phoenician word conquered (west / sunset).
From the 16th century BC The Phoenician city-states were under the sovereignty of the Egyptian New Kingdom . The decline began with the New Assyrian Empire , which began in the 7th century BC. BC conquered the area. He was followed as a foreign ruler by the New Babylonian Empire , this in the 6th century BC. The ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire . The Persian Empire was smashed by the Macedonian Alexander the Great , after whose death in 323 BC. The empire he had created was divided among his diadochi (successors) Ptolemy I and Seleucus I in the 2nd century BC . Lebanon became part of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire .
After the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC After conquering the Middle East, the area belonged to the Roman province of Syria , which was one of the richest provinces in Rome due to the emerging coastal cities. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, today's Lebanon was part of the Eastern Roman-Byzantine Empire and was administered from Constantinople (Byzantium) and developed into a center of Christianity . Between 634 and 640 AD, Lebanon was conquered in the course of Islamic expansion .
While Sunnis and Rum-Orthodox (Greek-Orthodox) Christians dominated in the coastal strip and other flat regions until the 19th century , the mountain regions of the Lebanon Mountains and the Nusairier Mountains in Syria, which bordered to the north , developed into an Islamic retreat from the 6th century AD - Shiite and Christian heterodox currents and sects (“religious dissidents”). Historically, the Shiite mountain inhabitants were the Qarmatians and Assassins , who in the Middle Ages made up the Druze with the historical center in the southern mountain section Chouf , the Alawis (Nusairians) mainly north of Lebanon in Syria, partly also in the far north of the country, and the Ismailis , northeast outside Lebanon, formed. The main Shiite stream of the Twelve-Shia was also detectable since the 11th century in the middle mountain section of Kesrouan, but was largely removed from the mountains into the hill country of southern Lebanon and the eastern part of the country, with the exception of a few villages, from campaigns by the Mamluks from the end of the 13th century to Sultan Barqūq. Bekaa Plain , where they form the largest population group to this day. One of the Christian currents that deviates from the surrounding area are the Maronites from Syria, who had founded an independent patriarchate and initially settled in the area around Wadi Qadischa in the northern mountains, probably in the 6th century . In the late Middle Ages and modern times, they developed into the most important population group in Lebanon, whose more tolerant climate later also attracted other deviating Christian currents: from the 18th century onwards, Greek Catholic Christians (especially around Zahlé , Sidon and Kaa in the extreme northeast), im 20th century Armenians (mostly in Bourj Hammoud and Anjar ), more recently Syrian Orthodox , Assyrian and Chaldean refugees from Syria and Iraq.
From 1098, the Christian crusaders began to move to liberate the "Holy Land" (Palestine) from the hands of the "infidels". After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, the south of Lebanon belonged to the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem , the north later to the county of Tripoli (founded in 1109). Even after the Crusaders were driven out of Jerusalem, Tripoli (and Antioch, Tire and Tortosa) initially remained under their rule. The Christian crusader army was finally driven back from the region in the 13th century by the Mamluk Empire , an Egyptian ruling dynasty (fall of Acre in 1291). The Mamluks left Beirut as a regional trading center and, moreover, pursued a "burned shore" policy against the other coastal cities and ports from Baibars I. They ruled over what is now Lebanon until 1516, before they were ousted by the Ottoman Empire . The ruler was now the Turkish sultan in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), who as caliph was both secular and spiritual head of the Ottoman Empire.
In Lebanon, as in other Ottoman areas, governors were installed, under whom the various religious communities were largely tolerated. In the mountains of the Lebanon Mountains, the emirate of the Druze (16th – 19th centuries), later called the "Emirate of Berglebanon", arose, whose former Emir Fachreddin II tried to achieve independence from the Ottomans and expansion with European help until he was defeated by the Ottomans was executed. The basis of this emirate was the assumption of official posts within the Ottoman administration, later also the tax lease , by members of the local elite. In this "emirate of the mountain Lebanon", the Christian Maronites and the Druze, united with the Pope in Rome, became the dominant population groups, whose settlement areas increased through population growth. The Maronites first settled the middle mountain section of Kesrouan (Kisrawan), which was mostly deserted by Shiites, then the Metn east of Beirut, settled since the 19th century at the invitation of the emirs in southern mountain sections and also dominated the coastal strip between Batrun and East Beirut . The Druze settled since Fachreddin II. To the southeast in the Hermon massif, then also outside Lebanon in Hauran , on the Golan Heights and finally in the Carmel Mountains .
A specific Lebanese identity can be found for the first time in the writings of historians at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1840 and 1842 the Ottomans deposed the last two emirs because the penultimate one was allied with the Egyptian khedive Muhammad Ali Pascha , who rebelled against the Ottomans , the last one could not end the conflict between Druze and Maronite landowners and the Ottomans directly took over the administration of the mountain Lebanon, which they divided into a northern Maronite and a southern Druze subdistrict. After a successful Maronite peasant uprising in 1858 in the central mountains in the southern Druze part of the region, which resulted in another Maronite-Druze conflict with massacres of Christians as far as Damascus , the French army intervened in 1860. The political forerunner of Lebanon was an autonomous province of Mount Lebanon within the Ottoman Empire , led from 1860 to 1916 by a Christian governor, who was not allowed to come from Lebanon, and which developed into a trading and banking center in the Middle East with French economic investments .
Emergence of the state
From 1920, today's national borders came into being under a French League of Nations mandate . Under the name État de Grand Liban, it was part of the mandate for Syria and Lebanon and was given a certain independence as a republic in 1926. On November 26, 1941, the French general Georges Catroux announced the independence of Lebanon and its subordination to the Free French government. Elections were held in November 1943 , and on November 8 the new Lebanese government unilaterally dissolved the French mandate.
On November 22, 1943, the government was reinstated by Lebanese officials; this is also the official independence day. Immediately after Lebanon's independence, around 20,000 volunteers under the command of the future President Fuad Schihab were integrated into the Free French Army under Charles de Gaulle , where they contributed to the success of the Allies in the Mediterranean theater of war in Bir Hakeim and Monte Cassino . During the Second World War, independent Lebanon was part of the " anti-Hitler coalition " and later also a founding member of the United Nations . At its founding meeting in San Francisco in February 1945, the Lebanese delegate Charles Malik played a dominant role alongside Eleanor Roosevelt and essential parts of the Co -authored the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Since the neighboring state of Israel was proclaimed , Lebanon has been at war with Israel. In 1958 the Lebanon crisis broke out between pro-Western Christians and nationalist Muslims during the Cold War . Thereafter, the country stabilized under President Fuad Schihab (Chéhab) and his successor Charles Helou through a far- reaching social, political and economic reform policy known as Chehabism (Schihabism). Because of its economic stability and political neutrality (1949–1969), Lebanon, which has a strong western or French influence, was also referred to as the “Switzerland of the Orient” in the 1950s and 1960s. The capital Beirut was even known as the "Paris of the Middle East" until 1984 . The women's suffrage was introduced 1,953th
Civil War in Lebanon
The termination of the Chehabist reform policy by President Suleiman Frangieh, who was only barely elected by armed force, in August 1970 and the arrival of the PLO leadership and militias from Jordan after “ Black September ” 1970 in Lebanon, which turned the country into the scene of the Middle East conflict , apply as the main causes for the weakening of the state and the arming of “left” pro-Palestinian and “right” anti-Palestinian party militias 1970–75. From 1975 to 1990 the country was ravaged by a long civil war. The civil war began in April 1975 with the outbreak of open fighting between the Maronite Kata'ib (also known as the Phalange militia ) and Palestinian and Lebanese-Muslim militias. The beginning of April 13th, when the Kata'ib massacred the Palestinian occupants of a bus on their way back to a refugee camp after an attack on a church.
The causes of the civil war are discussed in different ways. While some put the conflict with the Palestinians in the foreground, others see the worsening social differences in general and in particular along confessional boundaries as the cause. Still others emphasize the influence of outside powers. Those who emphasize the conflict with the Palestinians point to the loss of ethnic balance following the arrival of the armed forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who were driven out of Jordan during the Jordan Civil War in 1970 .
In 1976 Syrian soldiers marched into Lebanon and initially intervened on the side of the Christian faction in the war. The Christian Lebanese found their strongest support in Israel, where many of their fighters were trained.
On March 14, 1978, after several attacks by the PLO, the last of the Coastal Road Massacre in Tel Aviv was on March 11, 1978, and caused the death of 37 Israelis and injured a further 76 people who marched Israeli army as part of Operation Litani in invaded southern Lebanon and occupied the area south of the Litani River . Between 1,000 and 2,000 people were killed and, according to estimates by the Lebanese government, around 280,000 were displaced. Five days after this invasion, UN Security Council Resolution 425 was adopted, and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) troops were stationed in southern Lebanon to implement it. In 1982 Israel occupied the south of the country and in this Lebanon campaign forced the PLO to withdraw completely from Lebanon on August 21. This was carried out under the supervision of a multinational protection force, mainly American and French soldiers. On September 17, 1983, the US Navy fired at positions of the Syrians near Beirut for the first time. However, the multinational peacekeeping force left in late February to early March 1984 Lebanon after when on 23 October 1983. Two bomb attacks on the multinational headquarters that the Hezbollah , 241 US soldiers and 58 French were killed attributed. In 1985, Israel established a protection zone in the run-up to the Israeli border.
It was not until 1989 that the Taif Agreement laid the foundation for ending the civil war. The civil war left 90,000 dead, 115,000 injured and 20,000 missing. 800,000 people fled abroad.
Syrian and Israeli influence
With the Syrian-Lebanese Treaty of May 1991, Syria was able to consolidate its function as a power of order (occupying power) in Lebanon.
In 1994 and 1995, the Israeli army repeatedly bombed positions of the paramilitary Shiite Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in order to press the Lebanese government into calling for the disarmament of the pro-Iranian militia. The Israeli army withdrew completely from Lebanon on May 24, 2000, with the exception of the disputed Shebaa farms . Since the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon in 2000, there have been almost regular armed clashes between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the Israeli-Lebanese border area.
The Syria-friendly President of Lebanon Emile Lahoud left the end of 2004 his expired mandate from Parliament through constitutional amendment to extend by three years. This quickly led to the resignation of the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri , after the latter was also unable to assert himself with his demand for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops.
The death of al-Hariri became the starting point for a domestic political escalation, the so-called Cedar Revolution . A broad opposition movement vehemently called for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops. This movement was based primarily on Christians, Druze and Sunnis, but was also supported by significant parts of the Shiite population. The USA and France have also been putting increasing pressure on Syria since the end of February. On February 28, the pro-Syria Lebanese government resigned. On March 7, Syria agreed with Lebanon that the first step would be to withdraw its troops to the eastern Bekaa Valley by the end of the month. By the end of April, all 14,000 Syrian soldiers had returned to their homeland.
On March 8, 2005, the anti-Western Hezbollah called for a demonstration to protest against UN resolution 1559 (which has been calling for this group to be disarmed since September 2, 2004). Many of the 500,000 or so participants in the demonstration also thanked the Syrians and turned against the USA and Israel. This gave the pro-Syrian parliamentary group enough strength to reassign Prime Minister Omar Karami, who had resigned a few days earlier, to form a government on March 10. On March 14, another 300,000 opposition demonstration gathered in central Beirut. The pro-Syrian demonstrations on March 8 and the anti-Syrian demonstrations on March 14 then gave their names to the two camps of the newly emerging political spectrum.
On April 15, Najib Miqati became prime minister of a transitional government. Parliamentary elections were held in June . They were won by Saad al-Hariri's opposition anti-Syrian "future movement". Saad al-Hariri is the son of the murdered Rafiq al-Hariri .
On July 30, then Finance Minister Fuad Siniora was given the task of forming a government by President Lahoud. The Lebanese government's toleration of the armed arm of Hezbollah continued even after the opposition won the election. In addition, Hezbollah was now involved in the government for the first time, the cabinet now included a minister (energy minister) from the Shiite Hezbollah. The Free Patriotic Movement (French Courant Patriotique Libre , CPL) of former Christian Prime Minister Michel Aoun , who had returned from exile and had fought peacefully against the Syrian occupation since 1990, decided against participating in the government.
Second Lebanon War
Hezbollah blamed Israel for an attack that killed Mahmoud Majzoub , leader of the Islamist movement Islamic Jihad , and his brother, and began on May 28, 2006 with rocket attacks on military vehicles and a military base in Israel. Israel responded with air strikes on a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. On May 29, Hezbollah stepped up rocket and mortar attacks, which in turn led Israel to major air and artillery attacks.
From July 12 to August 14, 2006, Israel waged a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon after they captured two Israeli soldiers in the Israeli-Lebanese border area ( 2006 Lebanon War ). Hezbollah responded with rockets fired from Lebanese territory at targets in northern Israel. The Israeli air strikes and ground offensives caused massive destruction in the southern parts of the country, southern parts of Beirut and also isolated targets in the north of the country. Over 1,100 Lebanese died in the war, the majority of whom were civilians , according to Lebanese sources . On the Israeli side, according to UN figures, over 40 civilians were killed in the Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel. Since the end of the fighting under UN resolution 1701, the south of Lebanon has been subordinate to the international peacekeeping force UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.
Internal crisis and new agreement
In a series of attacks from 2004 to 2008, over a dozen anti-Syrian politicians and intellectuals were killed, including Rafiq al-Hariri , Gebran Tueni , Samir Kassir and Walid Eido . On November 21, 2006, the Maronite Christian minister Pierre Gemayel junior was the victim of an assassination attempt.
In autumn 2006, the Shiite ministers and one Christian minister close to the opposition resigned in protest against the government's plans for the Hariri tribunal . The anti-Western opposition led by Hezbollah, Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement of the Maronite politician Michel Aoun saw the government as illegitimate due to the fact that Shiite representation in the cabinet, contrary to the denominational system of proportional representation in Lebanon, was illegitimate and reiterated their demand for the formation of a new government with an 18-month sit-in in downtown Beirut . Parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri , who heads the opposition Amal, refused to convene parliamentary sessions.
From May to July 2007, the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared saw the most violent fighting in Lebanon since the Taif Agreement . Over 200 people were killed in the several weeks of fighting between the Lebanese army and the radical Islamic underground organization Fatah al-Islam , which had holed up in the camp.
When Émile Lahoud's term as president expired in November 2007, the opposition made their participation in the parliamentary presidential election required for the necessary two-thirds majority dependent on a prior agreement on a government of national unity and a new electoral law, although the majority camp approved the opposition candidate, Army Chief Michel Sulaiman , had accepted. Despite numerous attempts at mediation, the office of President remained vacant for over six months. In May 2008, a government decision on Hezbollah's communications network finally escalated, with Hezbollah and Amal fighters temporarily occupying West Beirut.
The street fighting and the use of artillery in the Chouf Mountains were reminiscent of the civil war and prompted the Arab League to send a ministerial delegation to Beirut under the leadership of the Qatari Foreign Minister and the League Secretary General. Under their mediation, the government reversed the resolutions against Hezbollah, which in return cleared its barricades. During subsequent five-day negotiations in Doha , which the Qatari leadership had to save from failure on several occasions, all Lebanese parties finally agreed on the election of Sulayman as president, the formation of a government of national unity with 11 of 30 posts for the opposition so that government decisions can block, as well as a new electoral law. On May 25, 2008, Michel Sulaiman was elected President in the presence of the Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers as well as the Saudi and French foreign ministers. His term of office ended on May 25, 2014. Several ballots since March 2014 have led to no result, so that the office of Head of State has remained vacant since May 26, 2014. After 29 months of paralysis, Michel Aoun returned to the presidential palace as president on October 31, 2016 thanks to new alliances in the parliament, which actually also acted beyond his term of office. Saad Hariri was Lebanese Prime Minister from December 18, 2016 until his resignation on November 4, 2017 . On November 4, 2017, Hariri read a statement broadcast live on Saudi television announcing his resignation as prime minister. There were speculations that this resignation was declared not voluntarily, but under pressure from Saudi Arabia. Since Hariri was in Saudi Arabia, he could not personally declare his resignation to the president, as is formally provided for in the constitution. Therefore, the President did not accept this resignation. On November 18, Hariri was invited to France by French President Macron and traveled from there back to Lebanon. Ultimately, Hariri revoked his resignation.
Government crisis October – December 2019
After a latent crisis due to the continual deterioration of the economic situation and the inability of the government to solve substantial problems of infrastructure and supply, after a stronger devaluation of the exchange rate from the Lebanese pound to the US $ , forest fires out of control broke out into another The government's impotence and announced tax increases in October 2019 were among the strongest nationwide protests since the end of the civil war in 1990 calling for the resignation of Saad Hariri's government . In parts, these assumed the extent of political and social unrest. Hariri's announcement on October 29, 2019 came after 13 days of mass protests demanding the farewell of the country's entire political elite, amid growing anger over official corruption, poor public services and years of economic mismanagement.
See also: Economic crisis in Lebanon since 2019
On December 9, 2019, the President of Lebanon asked university professor Hassan Diab , a former education minister supported by Hezbollah, to form a new government. Michel Aoun named Diab prime minister after a day of consultation after Diab won a simple majority in the 128-member parliament: 69 parliamentarians, including the parliamentary bloc of the Shiite Hezbollah and Amal movement , as well as groups affiliated with President Michel Aoun gave him their voices. It was not until January 21, 2020 that Diab presented his new cabinet .
Explosion disaster in the port of Beirut 2020
On August 4, 2020, an explosion occurred in the port of Beirut , killing at least 190 people and injuring around 6,500. Numerous people were missing. The detonation tore a crater around 200 meters in diameter that filled with seawater. Large parts of the port, which is central to the supply of the country, have been destroyed or damaged. The disaster and subsequent protests led to the resignation of the Diab government on August 10.
In the 2020 Democracy Index of the British magazine The Economist, Lebanon ranks 108th out of 167 countries and is therefore considered a “hybrid regime” of democratic and authoritarian elements. In the 2017 country report Freedom in the World by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “partially free”. However, this still makes it one of the freest countries in the Arab world.
Lebanon has been a republic since 1926 and is currently a parliamentary democracy . The domestic political situation is very complex and not very stable due to denominationalism. Several presidents, prime ministers and other politicians in Lebanon's history were assassinated during or after their term in office. The constitution of 1926 was last amended in 1999, compliance with which is monitored by the Constitutional Council of Lebanon .
The four highest government offices are reserved for members of certain religious groups:
- The head of state must be a Maronite Christian
- the speaker of parliament must be a Shiite Muslim,
- the head of government must be a Sunni Muslim,
- the commander in chief of the army must be a Christian.
The head of state is elected every six years by parliament (no immediate re-election). The right to vote exists from 21 years of age. Michel Aoun was elected head of state on October 31, 2016, while Prime Minister Hassan Diab was in office as the successor to Saad Hariri from December 2019 to August 2020.
Since February 2006, twelve high-ranking politicians from all major Lebanese parties and religious groups have been meeting at irregular intervals at a “round negotiating table” in Beirut's government district to negotiate important national issues (“national dialogue”). So far it has been agreed that the Shebaa farms are Lebanese territory. Questions about the disarmament of Hezbollah and the Palestinian militias based in Lebanon remain open to this day. Since 2008, work has been carried out on a national defense strategy that is intended to form the framework for the state armed forces as well as for the "Resistance" ( Hezbollah ).
houses of Parliament
|Maronite Christians||Shiite Muslims||Sunni Muslims||Greek Orthodox Christians||Druze||Rum Melkite Catholics||orthodox Armenians||Alawites||Armenian Catholics||Protestants||Minorities|
|34 seats||27 seats||27 seats||14 seats||8 seats||8 seats||5 seats||2 seats||1 seat||1 seat||1 seat|
|128 seats in total|
The last parliamentary election took place in 2018 , previously parliamentary elections had been held in 2005 and 2009 (see Lebanese government of July 2005 ). The President of Parliament is Nabih Berri (since 1999).
Before independence, the administration as a French protected area proclaimed the equality of all citizens before the law in Article 7 of the Constitution of May 26, 1926, women were not specifically mentioned. Active women's suffrage was introduced in 1926, but it was tied to educational requirements. In 1943 the country became independent. From 1952, all men were required to vote, while women aged 21 and over with primary education had the right to vote.
In Lebanon - in contrast to many other Arab states in the region - a pluralist party system prevails.
Strongest parties in the pro-western coalition “14. March " :
- Future movement ( Courant du futur ) under the Sunni leader Saad Hariri
- Forces Libanaises (FL) as a Christian political organization founded in 1978 by President Bachir Gemayel, who was elected but was assassinated before he took office . Under the pro-Syrian governments, the FL suffered from severe restrictions. It was not until the “ cedar revolution ” in early 2005 and the subsequent withdrawal of the Syrian troops that the Forces Libanaises were able to operate with the release of their leader, Samir Geagea , among other things .
- Kataeb party ( Phalanges ) under the Christian former president Amin Gemayel
- Social-Democratic Henchak Party ( Henchack ) as a party of the Armenians
Strongest parties of the anti-western coalition “8. March " :
- Hezbollah : Shiite religious party and militia formed during the civil war , led by Hassan Nasrallah
- Free Patriotic Movement (FPM): A movement that had protested against the Syrian occupation of the country since 1990 and was banned until the withdrawal of the Syrian army. Around 16,000 arrests by the Syrian occupation and the police had to put up with the movement. Led by the Maronite general Michel Aoun .
- Amal Movement : traditional Shiite movement that fought against the occupation of the country by Israel. Reconciliation with Hezbollah after the civil war.
- Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) of the Druze leader Walid Jumblat . In 2009 Jumblat distanced himself from March 14th and placed his party in the middle.
In addition to the state social structures, numerous non-governmental organizations such as the National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training are also active. Homosexuality has not been condemned since 2014, but the police still use Article 534 of the Lebanese Criminal Code to intimidate and register those affected.
The armed forces of Lebanon consist of the three armed forces army , air force and navy and consist of around 71,000 soldiers. All three branches of the armed forces are commanded by the Central Command of the Lebanese Armed Forces in Jarzeh , in the east of Beirut . Before compulsory military service was abolished in 2008, the Lebanese military consisted of conscripts who were drafted from May 4, 2005. The military service lasted six months and the mandatory reserve time ended after two years.
Lebanon spent just under 4.5 percent of its economic output or 2.4 billion US dollars on its armed forces in 2017. Military expenditures, a significant part of government expenditures, are among the highest in the world at 15.6 percent.
Lebanon is divided into eight governorates , which are made up of a total of 25 districts:
Lebanonberg *: According to the resolution of the Lebanese parliament of August 2017, the districts of Jbeil and Keserwan are to form the independent Keserwan-Jbeil governorate with its seat in Jounieh.
Largest cities with population figures (estimated; there has been no official census since 1932):
In 2016, Lebanon's GDP was US $ 85.16 billion after adjusting for purchasing power. This results in a per capita income of just under 18,500 dollars, which makes the country one of the richer in the Arab world and the approximate level of prosperity of countries like Mexico and Iran . The World Bank classified Lebanon as a middle-income country in 2017. Economic growth was 1% in 2016.
Lebanon traditionally has a relatively free economy and a strong trading tradition. The mostly wealthy and successful Lebanese diaspora makes a significant contribution to domestic economic performance in the form of transfers and investments. The economy is strongly geared towards the service sector, in which the financial and tourism sectors in particular drive growth, while the country's industrial base is weak. Problems in the country are corruption , a cumbersome bureaucracy and permanent political instability. In addition, due to the civil wars of the last few decades and the high number of refugees in the country who have to be cared for, the country has one of the highest national debt ratios in the world. The strained public finances also cause insufficient investment in public infrastructure. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Lebanon ranks 105th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). In the 2017 index for economic freedom , the country was ranked 137th out of 180 countries. After the Corruption Perception Index ( Corruption Perceptions Index ) of Transparency International Lebanon in 2017 was of 180 countries, along with Bangladesh , Kenya , Mauritania and Guatemala on the 143rd place, with 28 of a maximum of 100 points.
Lebanon was a popular tourist destination in times of peace, and since 2010 several tour operators have been trying to redevelop Lebanon for tourism.
The Lebanese pound is pegged to the US dollar, which is used as a second currency in the country. However, the value of the currency on the capital markets has fallen many times over since the banking crisis unfolded in spring 2020. Lebanon's strict banking secrecy also earned him the nickname “Switzerland of the East”.
The country exports food products (18.8% of exports), jewelry (17.8%), chemical products (14.9%), machinery and electrical appliances (10.5%), metals and metal products (8.8%) as well Paper and paper products (7.4%). Machinery and electrical equipment (21.8%), foodstuffs (18.2%), mineral raw materials (17.6%), chemical products (12.0%), means of transport (8.9%), precious and semi-precious stones are imported (6.8%), metals and metal products (6.1%) and textiles (5.7%).
With most food and industrial products imported, the country runs a current account deficit . The most important import partners in 2015 were the People's Republic of China (11.5% of imports), Italy (7.1%), Germany (6.8%), France (6.0%), the USA (5.7%), Russia (4.6%) and Greece (4.4%). The most important export partners in the same year were Saudi Arabia (12.1% of exports), the United Arab Emirates (10.6%), Iraq (7.6%), Syria (7.1%) and South Africa (6th , 6%).
All GDP values are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).
(purchasing power parity)
|15.33 billion||27.70 billion||12.64 billion||25.34 billion||32.90 billion||43.43 billion||46.11 billion||51.75 billion||57.65 billion||63.93 billion||69.91 billion||72.01 billion||75.39 billion||78.63 billion||81.64 billion||83.20 billion||85.11 billion||87.78 billion|
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
(as a percentage of GDP)
The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditure of the equivalent of 14.4 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 9.9 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 8.6% of GDP .
The national debt in 2016 was $ 74.4 billion, or 143.4% of GDP.
In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:
Lebanon has been one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world for decades. This is due to the civil war and the cost of reconstruction, Lebanon had previously always pursued extremely conservative budgetary policies. Despite the unstable economic and political situation even after the end of the war, the debts could always be serviced on time for three decades.
On March 7, 2020, Prime Minister Diab announced in a televised address to the people that the state could not repay debts on time for the first time in its history. Affected are Eurobonds due on March 9, 2020 in the amount of 1.2 billion US dollars. Overall, the country has debts of 4.6 billion US dollars to settle in 2020. According to Diab, the national debt has now grown to 90 billion US dollars, corresponding to 170% of the gross domestic product.
Partly very dense road network (especially in the west). The most important routes are the north-south coastal road, which is partially developed as a motorway , between the Syrian and Israeli borders (228 km), the east-west trunk road to Damascus (112 km) and the north-south inland road from the Syrian border via Baalbek -Zahlé to Beirut. Although the main roads are paved, the quality of most roads is poor, very poor in the mountains, mountain passes (except for the main main routes) are only safe to drive in summer. There is immense traffic in / around Beirut, as well as on the Tripoli - Beirut - Tire coastal motorway. Accidents are common: In 2008, Lebanon, which had a population of 4 million at the time, had over 11,000 injuries and 850 deaths in road traffic.
Taxis / collective taxes are also the usual means of transport for overland trips. Some supra-regional and local bus routes exist, but are difficult for foreigners to use because there are no marked routes, specific stops and timetables.
Lebanon's architecture has shown a strong Italian influence since the Renaissance. The sovereign Fachr ad-Dīn II. (1572-1635) brought an ambitious program for the development of the country on the way. When the Ottomans sent Fachr ad-Dīn into exile in Tuscany in 1613, he made an alliance with the Medici there . After his return in 1618, he began to modernize Lebanon. He encouraged the emergence of a silk industry, the expansion of olive oil production and brought many Italian engineers into the country, who began to build mansions and apartment buildings everywhere. In particular, the cities of Beirut and Sidon were built in the Italian style. These buildings, especially those in Dair al-Qamar , influenced the architectural style in Lebanon up to the present day. The appearance of many famous streets, such as the Rue Gouraud in Beirut, is characterized by historic houses in the Italian Renaissance style. One of the most dazzling recent examples of the style is the 19th century building of the Sursock Museum .
Due to its denominational diversity and political plurality, Lebanon has a large media landscape despite its relatively small population. Nonetheless, Reporters Without Borders reported restrictions on the freedom of the press. In the ranking of press freedom 2020 published by Reporters Without Borders, Lebanon ranks 102nd out of 180 countries.
Some journalists were killed in attacks, for example Samir Kassir or Gebran Tueni . On this occasion, the Samir Kassir Prize for Freedom of the Press was founded on October 10, 2005 by the European Commission .
The television channels are largely divided according to denominational or political currents: LBCI is very close to the Forces Libanaises , al-Manar- TV is close to Hezbollah , Future TV is awarded to the politicians of the future movement around Saad Hariri , NBN to the Amal movement . NewTV and NewTV-SAT are close to the left-wing parties. Orange TV (OTV) has been on the air since July 2007 and is supported by the Free Patriotic Movement founded by General Michel Aoun . Télé Lumière is a religious broadcaster belonging to the Maronite Church. An exception among the broadcasters is the state broadcaster Télé Liban , which has a more cultural program without direct political statements.
In addition to numerous Arabic-language newspapers, the press landscape also includes the English-language Daily Star , which has been published since 1952, and the French-language L'Orient-Le Jour , which was created in 1971 from the merger of two traditional Francophone newspapers.
In 2016, 75.9% of the population used the internet.
Lebanese cuisine is similar to the cuisines of many countries in this region. Basic ingredients are vegetables, fruits, dried legumes , bulgur , rice , fish , meat , chicken, nuts, olives , yogurt and tahini . Many dishes are vegetarian . Traditionally, fat is used sparingly. The most famous dishes include kibbeh , which is eaten throughout the region, as well as hummus and tabbouleh .
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