Environmental issues in Lebanon | Wikipedia audio article

Lebanon ( (listen); Arabic: لبنان‎
Lubnān; Lebanese pronunciation: [lɪbˈnɛːn]; French: Liban), officially known as the Lebanese
Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية‎ al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah; Lebanese
pronunciation: [elˈʒʊmhuːɾɪjje lˈlɪbnɛːnɪjje]; French: République libanaise), is a country
in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east
and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon’s location at the crossroads of the
Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a
cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km2 (4,036 sq. mi.), it is
the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.The earliest
evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating
recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Canaanites/Phoenicians
and their kingdoms, a maritime culture that flourished for over a thousand years (c. 1550–539
BC). In 64 BC, the region came under the rule of
the Roman Empire, and eventually became one of the Empire’s leading centers of Christianity. In the Mount Lebanon range a monastic tradition
known as the Maronite Church was established. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region,
the Maronites held onto their religion and identity. However, a new religious group, the Druze,
established themselves in Mount Lebanon as well, generating a religious divide that has
lasted for centuries. During the Crusades, the Maronites re-established
contact with the Roman Catholic Church and asserted their communion with Rome. The ties they established with the Latins
have influenced the region into the modern era. The region eventually was ruled by the Ottoman
Empire from 1516 to 1918. Following the collapse of the empire after
World War I, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon came under the French Mandate
of Lebanon. The French expanded the borders of the Mount
Lebanon Governorate, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing
confessionalism, a unique, Consociationalism-type of political system with a power-sharing mechanism
based on religious communities. Bechara El Khoury, President of Lebanon during
the independence, Riad El-Solh, first Lebanese prime minister and Emir Majid Arslan II, first
Lebanese minister of defence, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon
and are national heroes for having led the country’s independence. Foreign troops withdrew completely from Lebanon
on 31 December 1946, although the country was subjected to military occupations by Syria
that lasted nearly thirty years before being withdrawn in April 2005 as well as the Israeli
military in Southern Lebanon for fifteen years. Despite its small size, the country has developed
a well-known culture and has been highly influential in the Arab world, powered by its large diaspora. Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990),
the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism,
agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity
in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the “Switzerland of the East” during the 1960s,
and its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as “the Paris of
the Middle East”. At the end of the war, there were extensive
efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. In spite of these troubles, Lebanon has the
7th highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world after the oil-rich
economies of the Persian Gulf. Lebanon has been a member of the United Nations
since its founding in 1945 as well as of the Arab League (1945), the Non-Aligned Movement
(1961), Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (1969) and the Organisation internationale
de la francophonie (1973).==Etymology==
The name of Mount Lebanon originates from the Phoenician root lbn (𐤋𐤁𐤍) meaning
“white”, apparently from its snow-capped peaks.Occurrences of the name have been found in different Middle
Bronze Age texts from the library of Ebla, and three of the twelve tablets of the Epic
of Gilgamesh. The name is recorded in Ancient Egyptian as
Rmnn (𓂋𓏠𓈖𓈖𓈉), where R stood for Canaanite L.
The name occurs nearly 70 times in the Hebrew Bible, as לְבָנוֹן.Lebanon as the
name of an administrative unit (as opposed to the mountain range) was introduced with
the Ottoman reforms of 1861, as the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate (Arabic: متصرفية
جبل لبنان‎; Turkish: Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı), continued in the name
of the State of Greater Lebanon (Arabic: دولة لبنان الكبير‎ Dawlat Lubnān
al-Kabīr; French: État du Grand Liban) in 1920, and eventually in the name of the sovereign
Republic of Lebanon (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية‎ al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah)
upon its independence in 1943.==History==The borders of contemporary Lebanon are a
product of the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. Its territory was the core of the Bronze Age
Phoenician (Canaanite) city-states. As part of the Levant, it was part of numerous
succeeding empires throughout ancient history, including the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian,
Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Sasanid Persian empires. After the 7th-century Muslim conquest of the
Levant, it was part of the Rashidun, Umyayad, Abbasid Seljuk and Fatimid empires. The crusader state of the County of Tripoli,
founded by Raymond IV of Toulouse in 1102, encompassed most of present-day Lebanon, falling
to the Mamluk Sultanate in 1289 and finally to the Ottoman Empire in 1517. With the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire,
Greater Lebanon fell under French mandate in 1920, and gained independence under president
Bechara El Khoury in 1943. Lebanon’s history since independence has been
marked by alternating periods of political stability and prosperity based on Beirut’s
position as a regional center for finance and trade, interspersed with political turmoil
and armed conflict (1948 Arab–Israeli War, Lebanese Civil War 1975–1990, 2005 Cedar
Revolution, 2006 Lebanon War, 2007 Lebanon conflict, 2006–08 Lebanese protests, 2008
conflict in Lebanon, and since 2011 Syrian Civil War spillover).===Ancient Lebanon===Evidence dating back to an early settlement
in Lebanon was found in Byblos, considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities
in the world. The evidence dates back to earlier than 5000
BC. Archaeologists discovered remnants of prehistoric
huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars left by the Neolithic
and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over
7,000 years ago.Lebanon was a part of northern Canaan, and consequently became the homeland
of Canaanite descendants – the Phoenicians, a seafaring people who spread across the Mediterranean
before the rise of Cyrus the Great. Their most famous colonies were Carthage in
what is present-day Tunisia and Cádiz in present-day Spain. The Canaanite-Phoenicians are also known as
the inventors of the alphabet, among many other things. The area of present-day Lebanon and the wider
Eastern Mediterranean were subjugated by Cyrus in 539 BCE. The Persians forced some of its population
to migrate to Carthage, which remained a powerful nation until the Second Punic War. After two centuries of Persian rule, Macedonian
ruler Alexander the Great attacked and burned Tyre, the most prominent Phoenician city. He conquered what is now Lebanon and other
nearby regions of the Eastern Mediterranean in 332 BCE.===Maronites, Druze, and the Crusades===The region that is now Lebanon, as with the
rest of Syria and much of Anatolia, became a major center of Christianity in the Roman
Empire during the early spread of the religion. During the late 4th and early 5th century,
a hermit named Maron established a monastic tradition focused on the importance of monotheism
and asceticism, near the Mediterranean mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. The monks who followed Maron spread his teachings
among Lebanese in the region. These Christians came to be known as Maronites
and moved into the mountains to avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities. During the frequent Roman-Persian Wars that
lasted for many centuries, the Sassanid Persians occupied what is now Lebanon from 619 till
629.During the 7th century the Muslim Arabs conquered Syria establishing a new regime
to replace the Byzantines. Though Islam and the Arabic language were
officially dominant under this new regime, the general populace nonetheless only gradually
converted from Christianity and the Syriac language. The Maronite community in particular managed
to maintain a large degree of autonomy despite the succession of rulers over Lebanon and
Syria. During the 11th century the Druze faith emerged
from a branch of Shia Islam. The new faith gained followers in the southern
portion of Mount Lebanon. The northern portion of Mount Lebanon was
ruled by Druze feudal families to the early 14th century which was then brought to an
end by the Mamluk invasion. The Maronite population increased gradually
in Northern Mount Lebanon and the Druze have remained in Southern Mount Lebanon until the
modern era. In the south of Lebanon, (Jabal Amel), Baalbek
and the Beqaa Valley was ruled by Shia feudal families under the Mamluks and the Ottoman
Empire. Major cities on the coast, Acre, Beirut, and
others, were directly administered by the Muslim Caliphs and the people became more
fully absorbed by the Arab culture. Following the fall of Roman Anatolia to the
Muslim Turks, the Byzantines put out a call to the Pope in Rome for assistance in the
11th century. The result was a series of wars known as the
Crusades launched by the Franks in Western Europe to reclaim the former Byzantine Christian
territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria and Palestine (the Levant). The First Crusade succeeded in temporarily
establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli as Roman Catholic Christian
states along the coast. These crusader states made a lasting impact
on the region, though their control was limited, and the region returned to full Muslim control
after two centuries following the conquest by the Mamluks. One of the most lasting effects of the Crusades
in this region was the contact between the Franks (i.e. the French) and the Maronites. Unlike most other Christian communities in
the Eastern Mediterranean, who swore allegiance to Constantinople or other local patriarchs,
the Maronites proclaimed allegiance to the Pope in Rome. As such the Franks saw them as Roman Catholic
brethren. These initial contacts led to centuries of
support for the Maronites from France and Italy, even after the fall of the Crusader
states in the region.===Ottoman Lebanon and French Mandate===During this period Lebanon was divided into
several provinces: Northern and Southern Mount Lebanon, Tripoli, Baalbek and Beqaa Valley
and Jabal Amel. In southern Mount Lebanon in 1590, Fakhr-al-Din
II became the successor to Korkmaz. He soon established his authority as paramount
prince of the Druze in the Shouf area of Mount Lebanon. Eventually, Fakhr-al-Din II was appointed
Sanjakbey (Governor) of several Ottoman sub-provinces, with responsibility for tax-gathering. He extended his control over a substantial
part of Mount Lebanon and its coastal area, even building a fort as far inland as Palmyra. This over-reaching eventually became too much
for Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, who sent a punitive expedition to capture him in 1633. He was taken to Istanbul, kept in prison for
two years and then executed along with one of his sons in April 1635. Surviving members of Fakhr al-Din’s family
ruled a reduced area under closer Ottoman control until the end of the 17th century. On the death of the last Maan emir, various
members of the Shihab clan ruled Mount Lebanon until 1830. Approximately 10,000 Christians were killed
by the Druzes during inter-communal violence in 1860. Shortly afterwards, the Emirate of Mount Lebanon,
which lasted about 400 years, was replaced by the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, as a result
of a European-Ottoman treaty called the Règlement Organique. The Baalbek and Beqaa Valley and Jabal Amel
was ruled intermittently by various Shia feudal families, especially the Al Ali Alsagheer
in Jabal Amel that remained in power until 1865 when Ottomans took direct ruling of the
region. Youssef Bey Karam, a Lebanese nationalist
played an influential role in Lebanon’s independence during this era. In 1920, following World War I, the area of
the Mutasarrifate, plus some surrounding areas which were predominantly Shia and Sunni, became
a part of the state of Greater Lebanon under the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon. Around 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount
Lebanon died of starvation during World War I. In the first half of 1920, Lebanese territory
was claimed as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, but shortly the Franco-Syrian War resulted
in Arab defeat and capitulation of the Hashemites. On 1 September 1920, France reestablished
Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality
of Lebanon and gave them to Syria. Lebanon was a largely Christian country (mainly
Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox enclaves) but it also included areas containing
many Muslims and Druze. On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese
Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926
establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.===Independence from France===Lebanon gained a measure of independence while
France was occupied by Germany. General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner
for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany
to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British
forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany
would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government,
sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles
de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside
and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941 General Georges Catroux
announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November
1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by imprisoning the new
government. In the face of international pressure, the
French released the government officials on 22 November 1943. The allies occupied the region until the end
of World War II. Following the end of World War II in Europe
the French mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the
part of the League of Nations or its successor the United Nations. The mandate was ended by the declaration of
the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed
by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission
to the United Nations. Article 78 of the UN Charter ended the status
of tutelage for any member state: “The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which
have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on
respect for the principle of sovereign equality.” So when the UN officially came into existence
on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent
members, as both Syria and Lebanon were founding member states, the French mandate for both
was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained. The last French troops withdrew in December
1946. Lebanon’s unwritten National Pact of 1943
required that its president be Maronite Christian, its speaker of the parliament to be a Shiite
Muslim, its prime minister be Sunni Muslim, and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the
Deputy Prime Minister be Greek Orthodox.Lebanon’s history since independence has been marked
by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil interspersed with prosperity built
on Beirut’s position as a regional center for finance and trade.In May 1948, Lebanon
supported neighbouring Arab countries in a war against Israel. While some irregular forces crossed the border
and carried out minor skirmishes against Israel, it was without the support of the Lebanese
government, and Lebanese troops did not officially invade. Lebanon agreed to support the forces with
covering artillery fire, armored cars, volunteers and logistical support. On 5–6 June 1948, the Lebanese army – led
by the then Minister of National Defence, Emir Majid Arslan – captured Al-Malkiyya. This was Lebanon’s only success in the war.100,000
Palestinians fled to Lebanon because of the war. Israel did not permit their return after the
cease-fire. As of 2017 between 174,000 and 450,000 Palestinian
refugees live in Lebanon with about half in refugee camps (although these are often decades
old and resemble neighborhoods). Palestinians often cannot obtain Lebanese
citizenship or even Lebanese identity cards so many are legally barred from owning property
or performing certain occupations (including law, medicine, and engineering). According to Human Rights Watch, Palestinian
refugees in Lebanon live in “appalling social and economic conditions.” In 1958, during the last months of President
Camille Chamoun’s term, an insurrection broke out, instigated by Lebanese Muslims who wanted
to make Lebanon a member of the United Arab Republic. Chamoun requested assistance, and 5,000 United
States Marines were briefly dispatched to Beirut on 15 July. After the crisis, a new government was formed,
led by the popular former general Fuad Chehab. With the defeat of the PLO in Jordan, many
Palestinian militants relocated to Lebanon, increasing their armed campaign against Israel. The relocation of Palestinian bases also led
to increasing sectarian tensions between Palestinians versus the Maronites and other Lebanese factions.===Civil war and Syrian occupation===In 1975, following increasing sectarian tensions,
a full-scale civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War pitted a coalition
of Christian groups against the joint forces of the PLO, left-wing Druze and Muslim militias. In June 1976 Lebanese President Elias Sarkis
asked for the Syrian Army to intervene on the side of the Christians and help restore
peace. In October 1976 the Arab League agreed to
establish a predominantly Syrian Arab Deterrent Force, which was charged with restoring calm.In
1982, the PLO attacks from Lebanon on Israel led to an Israeli invasion. A multinational force of American, French
and Italian contingents (joined in 1983 by a British contingent) were deployed in Beirut
after the Israeli siege of the city, to supervise the evacuation of the PLO. It returned in September 1982 after the assassination
of Bashir Gemayel and subsequent fighting. During this time a number of massacres occurred,
such as in Sabra and Shatila, and in several refugee camps. The multinational force was withdrawn in the
spring of 1984, following a devastating bombing attack during the previous year. In September 1988, the Parliament failed to
elect a successor to President Gemayel as a result of differences between the Christians,
Muslims, and Syrians. The Arab League Summit of May 1989 led to
the formation of a Saudi–Moroccan–Algerian committee to solve the crisis. On 16 September 1989 the committee issued
a peace plan which was accepted by all. A ceasefire was established, the ports and
airports were re-opened and refugees began to return.In the same month, the Lebanese
Parliament agreed to the Taif Agreement, which included an outline timetable for Syrian withdrawal
from Lebanon and a formula for the de-confessionalisation of the Lebanese political system. The war ended at the end of 1990 after sixteen
years; it had caused massive loss of human life and property, and devastated the country’s
economy. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed
and another 200,000 wounded. Nearly a million civilians were displaced
by the war, and some never returned. Parts of Lebanon were left in ruins. The Taif Agreement has still not been implemented
in full and Lebanon’s political system continues to be divided along sectarian lines.===Syrian withdrawal and aftermath===The internal political situation in Lebanon
significantly changed in the early 2000s. After the Israeli withdrawal from southern
Lebanon and the death of Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, the Syrian military presence faced criticism
and resistance from the Lebanese population.On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik
Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion. Leaders of the March 14 Alliance accused Syria
of the attack, while Syrian officials and the March 8 Alliance claimed that the Mossad
was behind the assassination. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning
of a series of assassinations that resulted in the death of many prominent Lebanese figures.The
assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution, a series of demonstrations which demanded
the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international
commission to investigate the assassination. Under pressure from the West, Syria began
withdrawing, and by 26 April 2005 all Syrian soldiers had returned to Syria.UNSC Resolution
1595 called for an investigation into the assassination. The UN International Independent Investigation
Commission published preliminary findings on 20 October 2005 in the Mehlis report, which
cited indications that the assassination was organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence
services.On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched a series of rocket attacks and raids into
Israeli territory, where they killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery
fire on targets in Lebanon, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon, resulting in the 2006
Lebanon War. The conflict was officially ended by the UNSC
Resolution 1701 on 14 August 2006, which ordered a ceasefire. Some 1,191 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were
killed in the conflict. Beirut’s southern suburb was heavily damaged
by Israeli airstrikes.In 2007, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp became the center of the 2007
Lebanon conflict between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. At least 169 soldiers, 287 insurgents and
47 civilians were killed in the battle. Funds for the reconstruction of the area have
been slow to materialize.Between 2006 and 2008, a series of protests led by groups opposed
to the pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora demanded the creation of a national unity
government, over which the mostly Shia opposition groups would have veto power. When Émile Lahoud’s presidential term ended
in October 2007, the opposition refused to vote for a successor unless a power-sharing
deal was reached, leaving Lebanon without a president. On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal forces,
sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah’s communications network was illegal, seized
western Beirut, leading to the 2008 conflict in Lebanon. The Lebanese government denounced the violence
as a coup attempt. At least 62 people died in the resulting clashes
between pro-government and opposition militias. On 21 May 2008, the signing of the Doha Agreement
ended the fighting. As part of the accord, which ended 18 months
of political paralysis, Michel Suleiman became president and a national unity government
was established, granting a veto to the opposition. The agreement was a victory for opposition
forces, as the government caved in to all their main demands.In early January 2011,
the national unity government collapsed due to growing tensions stemming from the Special
Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members for the Hariri assassination. The parliament elected Najib Mikati, the candidate
for the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance, Prime Minister of Lebanon, making him responsible
for forming a new government. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insists
that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Hariri. A report leaked by the Al-Akhbar newspaper
in November 2010 stated that Hezbollah has drafted plans for a takeover of the country
in the event that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues an indictment against its members.In
2012, the Syrian civil war threatened to spill over in Lebanon, causing more incidents of
sectarian violence and armed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli. According to UNHCR, the number of Syrian refugees
in Lebanon increased from around 250’000 in early 2013 to 1’000’000 in late 2014. In 2013, The Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb
Party and the Free Patriotic Movement voiced concerns that the country’s sectarian based
political system is being undermined by the influx of Syrian refugees. On 6 May 2015, UNHCR suspended registration
of Syrian refugees at the request of the Lebanese government. As of October 2016, the government estimates
that the country hosts 1.5 million Syrians.==Geography==Lebanon is located in Western Asia between
latitudes 33° and 35° N and longitudes 35° and 37° E. Its land straddles the “northwest
of the Arabian plate”.The country’s surface area is 10,452 square kilometres (4,036 sq
mi) of which 10,230 square kilometres (3,950 sq mi) is land. Lebanon has a coastline and border of 225
kilometres (140 mi) on the Mediterranean sea to the west, a 375 kilometres (233 mi) border
shared with Syria to the north and east and a 79 kilometres (49 mi) long border with Israel
to the south. The border with the Israeli-occupied Golan
Heights is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms.Lebanon is divided
into four distinct physiographic regions: the coastal plain, the Lebanon mountain range,
the Beqaa valley and the Anti-Lebanon mountains. The narrow and discontinuous coastal plain
stretches from the Syrian border in the north where it widens to form the Akkar plain to
Ras al-Naqoura at the border with Israel in the south. The fertile coastal plain is formed of marine
sediments and river deposited alluvium alternating with sandy bays and rocky beaches. The Lebanon mountains rise steeply parallel
to the Mediterranean coast and form a ridge of limestone and sandstone that runs for most
of the country’s length. The mountain range varies in width between
10 km (6 mi) and 56 km (35 mi); it is carved by narrow and deep gorges. The Lebanon mountains peak at 3,088 metres
(10,131 ft) above sea level in Qurnat as Sawda’ in North Lebanon and gradually slope to the
south before rising again to a height of 2,695 metres (8,842 ft) in Mount Sannine. The Beqaa valley sits between the Lebanon
mountains in the west and the Anti-Lebanon range in the east; it’s a part of the Great
Rift Valley system. The valley is 180 km (112 mi) long and 10
to 26 km (6 to 16 mi) wide, its fertile soil is formed by alluvial deposits. The Anti-Lebanon range runs parallel to the
Lebanon mountains, its highest peak is in Mount Hermon at 2,814 metres (9,232 ft).The
mountains of Lebanon are drained by seasonal torrents and rivers foremost of which is the
145 kilometres (90 mi) long Leontes that rises in the Beqaa Valley to the west of Baalbek
and empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre. Lebanon has 16 rivers all of which are non
navigable; 13 rivers originate from Mount Lebanon and run through the steep gorges and
into the Mediterranean Sea, the other three arise in the Beqaa Valley.===Climate===Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate. In coastal areas, winters are generally cool
and rainy whilst summers are hot and humid. In more elevated areas, temperatures usually
drop below freezing during the winter with heavy snow cover that remains until early
summer on the higher mountaintops. Although most of Lebanon receives a relatively
large amount of rainfall, when measured annually in comparison to its arid surroundings, certain
areas in north-eastern Lebanon receive little because of rain shadow created by the high
peaks of the western mountain range.===Environment===In ancient times, Lebanon was covered by large
forests of cedar trees, the national emblem of the country. Millennia of deforestation have altered the
hydrology in Mount Lebanon and changed the regional climate adversely. Today, forests cover 13.4% of the Lebanese
land area; they are under constant threat from wildfires caused by the long dry summer
season.As a result of longstanding exploitation, few old cedar trees remain in pockets of forests
in Lebanon, but there is an active program to conserve and regenerate the forests. The Lebanese approach has emphasized natural
regeneration over planting by creating the right conditions for germination and growth. The Lebanese state has created several nature
reserves that contain cedars, including the Shouf Biosphere Reserve, the Jaj Cedar Reserve,
the Tannourine Reserve, the Ammouaa and Karm Shbat Reserves in the Akkar district, and
the Forest of the Cedars of God near Bsharri.In 2010, the Environment Ministry set a 10-year
plan to increase the national forest coverage by 20%, which is equivalent to the planting
of two million new trees each year. The plan, which was funded by the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by the U.S. Forest Service
(USFS), through the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI), was inaugurated in 2011
by planting cedar, pine, wild almond, juniper, fir, oak and other seedlings, in ten regions
around Lebanon. Today, forests cover 13.6% of Lebanon, and
other wooded lands represent a further 11%. Since 2011, more than 600,000 trees, including
cedars and other native species, have been planted throughout Lebanon as part of the
Lebanon Reforestation Initiative (LRI).==Environmental issues==Beirut and Mount Lebanon have been facing
a severe garbage crisis. After the closure of the Bourj Hammoud dump
in 1997, the al-Naameh dumpsite was opened by the government in 1998. The al-Naameh dumpsite was planned to contain
2 million tons of waste for a limited period of six years at the most. It was designed to be a temporary solution,
while the government would have devised a long-term plan. Sixteen years later al-Naameh was still open
and exceeded its capacity by 13 million tons. In July 2015 the residents of the area, already
protesting in the recent years, forced the closure of the dumpsite.The inefficiency of
the government, as well as the corruption inside of the waste management company Sukleen
in charge of managing the garbage in Lebanon, have resulted in piles of garbage blocking
streets in Mount Lebanon and Beirut.In December 2015, the Lebanese government signed an agreement
with Chinook Industrial Mining, part owned by Chinook Sciences, to export over 100,000
tons of untreated waste from Beirut and the surrounding area. The waste had accumulated in temporary locations
following the government closure of the county’s largest land fill site five months earlier. The contract was jointly signed with Howa
International which has offices in Holland and Germany. The contract is reported to cost $212 per
ton. The waste, which is compacted and infectious,
would have to be sorted and was estimated to be enough to fill 2,000 containers. Initial reports that the waste was to be exported
to Sierra Leone have been denied by diplomats.In February 2016, the government withdrew from
negotiations after it was revealed that documents relating to the export of the trash to Russia
were forgeries. On 19 March 2016, the Cabinet reopened the
Naameh landfill for 60 days in line with a plan it passed few days earlier to end the
trash crisis. The plan also stipulates the establishment
of landfills in Bourj Hammoud and Costa Brava, east and south of Beirut respectively. Sukleen trucks began removing piled garbage
from Karantina and heading to Naameh. Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk announced
during a chat with activists that more than 8,000 tons of garbage had been collected so
far as part of the government’s trash plan in only 24 hours. The plan’s execution is still ongoing. In 2017, Human Rights Watch found that Lebanon’s
garbage crisis, and open burning of waste in particular, was posing a health risk to
residents and violating the state’s obligations under international law.In September 2018,
Lebanon’s parliament passed a law that banned open dumping and burning of waste. Despite penalties set in case of violations,
Lebanese municipalities have been openly burning the waste, putting the lives of people in
danger. In October 2018, Human Rights Watch researchers
witnessed the open burning of dumps in al-Qantara and Qabrikha.==Government and politics==Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy that
includes confessionalism, in which high-ranking offices are reserved for members of specific
religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite
Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim,
the Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eastern Orthodox. This system is intended to deter sectarian
conflict and attempts to represent fairly the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized
religious groups in government.Until 1975, Freedom House considered Lebanon to be one
of only two (together with Israel) politically free countries in the Middle East and North
Africa region. The country lost this status with the outbreak
of the Civil War, and has not regained it since. Lebanon was rated “Partly Free” in 2013. Even so, the United States still considers
Lebanon to be one of the most democratic nations in the Arab world.Until 2005, Palestinians
were forbidden to work in over 70 jobs because they did not have Lebanese citizenship. After liberalization laws were passed in 2007,
the number of banned jobs dropped to around 20. In 2010, Palestinians were granted the same
rights to work as other foreigners in the country.Lebanon’s national legislature is
the unicameral Parliament of Lebanon. Its 128 seats are divided equally between
Christians and Muslims, proportionately between the 18 different denominations and proportionately
between its 26 regions. Prior to 1990, the ratio stood at 6:5 in favor
of Christians; however, the Taif Agreement, which put an end to the 1975–1990 civil
war, adjusted the ratio to grant equal representation to followers of the two religions.The Parliament
is elected for a four-year term by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional
representation.The executive branch consists of the President, the head of state, and the
Prime Minister, the head of government. The parliament elects the president for a
non-renewable six-year term by a two-third majority. The president appoints the Prime Minister,
following consultations with the parliament. The president and the prime minister form
a cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism. In an unprecedented move, the Lebanese parliament
has extended its own term twice amid protests, the last being on 5 November 2014, an act
which comes in direct contradiction with democracy and article #42 of the Lebanese constitution
as no elections have taken place.Lebanon was without a President between May 2014 and October
2016.Nationwide elections were finally scheduled for May 2018.As of February 2019, the Lebanese
cabinet included three places held by Hizbullah.===Law===
There are 18 officially recognized religious groups in Lebanon, each with its own family
law legislation and set of religious courts.The Lebanese legal system is based on the French
system, and is a civil law country, with the exception for matters related to personal
status (succession, marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.), which are governed by a separate set
of laws designed for each sectarian community. For instance, the Islamic personal status
laws are inspired by the Sharia law. For Muslims, these tribunals deal with questions
of marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance and wills. For non-Muslims, personal status jurisdiction
is split: the law of inheritance and wills falls under national civil jurisdiction, while
Christian and Jewish religious courts are competent for marriage, divorce, and custody. Catholics can additionally appeal before the
Vatican Rota court.The most notable set of codified laws is the Code des Obligations
et des Contrats promulgated in 1932 and equivalent to the French Civil Code. Capital punishment is still de facto used
to sanction certain crimes, but no longer enforced.The Lebanese court system consists
of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. The Constitutional Council rules on constitutionality
of laws and electoral frauds. There also is a system of religious courts
having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on
matters such as marriage and inheritance.===Foreign relations===Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association
agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord
in January 2002. It is included in the European Union’s European
Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements
with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization. Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually
all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, Syria
and Iraq), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in more than
35 years. Lebanon is a member of the Francophone countries
and hosted the Francophone Summit in October 2002 as well as the Jeux de la Francophonie
in 2009.===Military===The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has 72,000
active personnel, including 1,100 in the air force, and 1,000 in the navy.The Lebanese
Armed Forces’ primary missions include defending Lebanon and its citizens against external
aggression, maintaining internal stability and security, confronting threats against
the country’s vital interests, engaging in social development activities, and undertaking
relief operations in coordination with public and humanitarian institutions.Lebanon is a
major recipient of foreign military aid. With more than $400 million since 2005, it
is the second largest per capita recipient of American military aid behind Israel.Human
rights groups have repeatedly accused the Lebanese army of torture.===Administrative divisions===Lebanon is divided into eight governorates
(mohaafazaat, Arabic: محافظات‎; singular mohafazah, Arabic: محافظة‎) which
are further subdivided into twenty-six districts (aqdya—singular: qadaa). The districts themselves are also divided
into several municipalities, each enclosing a group of cities or villages. The governorates and their respective districts
are listed below: Beirut Governorate
The Beirut Governorate is not divided into districts and is limited to the city of Beirut
Akkar Governorate Akkar
Baalbek-Hermel Governorate Baalbek
Hermel Beqaa Governorate
Rashaya Western Beqaa (al-Beqaa al-Gharbi)
Zahle Mount Lebanon Governorate (Jabal Lubnan/Jabal
Lebnen) Aley
Baabda Jbeil
Chouf Keserwan (Keserwen)
Matn Nabatieh Governorate (Jabal Amel)
Bint Jbeil Hasbaya
Marjeyoun Nabatieh
North Governorate (ash-Shamal/shmel) Batroun
Bsharri Koura
Miniyeh-Danniyeh Tripoli
Zgharta South Governorate (al-Janoub/Jnub)
Jezzine Sidon (Saida)
Tyre (Sur)==Economy==Lebanon’s constitution states that ‘the economic
system is free and ensures private initiative and the right to private property’. Lebanon’s economy follows a laissez-faire
model. Most of the economy is dollarized, and the
country has no restrictions on the movement of capital across its borders. The Lebanese government’s intervention in
foreign trade is minimal.The Lebanese economy went through a significant expansion after
the war of 2006, with growth averaging 9.1% between 2007 and 2010. After 2011 the local economy was affected
by the Syrian civil war, growing by a yearly average of 1.7% on the 2011-2016 period and
by 1.5% in 2017. In 2018, the size of the GDP was estimated
to be $54.1 billion . Lebanon has a very high level of public debt
and large external financing needs. The 2010 public debt exceeded 150.7% of GDP,
ranking fourth highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, though down from 154.8% in 2009. At the end 2008, finance minister Mohamad
Chatah stated that the debt was going to reach $47 billion in that year and would increase
to $49 billion if privatization of two telecoms companies did not occur. The Daily Star wrote that exorbitant debt
levels have “slowed down the economy and reduced the government’s spending on essential development
projects”.The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Emigration has yielded Lebanese “commercial
networks” throughout the world. Remittances from Lebanese abroad total $8.2
billion and account for one fifth of the country’s economy. Lebanon has the largest proportion of skilled
labor among Arab States.The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon was established with
the aim of promoting investment in Lebanon. In 2001, Investment Law No.360 was enacted
to reinforce the organisation’s mission. The agricultural sector employs 12% of the
total workforce. Agriculture contributed to 5.9% of the country’s
GDP in 2011. Lebanon’s proportion of cultivable land is
the highest in the Arab world, Major produce includes apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.The
commodities market in Lebanon includes substantial gold coin production, however according to
International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards, they must be declared upon exportation
to any foreign country.Oil has recently been discovered inland and in the seabed between
Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and talks are underway between Cyprus and Egypt to reach
an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources. The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is
believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.Industry in Lebanon
is mainly limited to small businesses that reassemble and package imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce,
with 26% of the Lebanese working population, and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of
Lebanon’s GDP.Nearly 65% of the Lebanese workforce attain employment in the services sector. The GDP contribution, accordingly, amounts
to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP. However, dependence on the tourism and banking
sectors leaves the economy vulnerable to political instability.Lebanese banks are high on liquidity
and reputed for their security. Lebanon was one of the only seven countries
in the world in which the value of the stock markets increased in 2008.On 10 May 2013 the
Lebanese minister of energy and water clarified that seismic images of the Lebanese’s sea
bed are undergoing detailed explanation of their contents and that up till now, approximately
10% have been covered. Preliminary inspection of the results showed,
with more than 50% probability, that 10% of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone contained
up to 660 million barrels of oil and up to 30×1012 cu ft of gas.The Syrian crisis has
significantly affected Lebanese economic and financial situation. The demographic pressure imposed by the Syrian
refugees now living in Lebanon has led to competition in the labour market. As a direct consequence unemployment has doubled
in three years, reaching 20% in 2014. A loss of 14% of wages regarding the salary
of less-skilled workers has also been registered. The financial constraints were also felt:
the poverty rate increased with 170.000 Lebanese falling under the poverty threshold. In the period between 2012 and 2014, the public
spending increased by $1 billion and losses amounted to $7.5 billion. Expenditures related only to the Syrian refugees
were estimated by the Central Bank of Lebanon as $4.5 billion every year.===History===In the 1950s, GDP growth was the second highest
in the world. Despite not having oil reserves, Lebanon,
as the banking center of the Middle East and one of the trading centers, had a high national
income.The 1975–1990 civil war heavily damaged Lebanon’s economic infrastructure, cut national
output by half, and all but ended Lebanon’s position as a West Asian entrepôt and banking
hub. The subsequent period of relative peace 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.Until July 2006, Lebanon enjoyed considerable stability,
Beirut’s reconstruction was almost complete, and increasing numbers of tourists poured
into the nation’s resorts. The economy witnessed growth, with bank assets
reaching over 75 billion US dollars, Market capitalization was also at an all-time high,
estimated at $10.9 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2006. The month-long 2006 war severely damaged Lebanon’s
fragile economy, especially the tourism sector. According to a preliminary report published
by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance on 30 August 2006, a major economic decline was
expected as a result of the fighting.Over the course of 2008 Lebanon rebuilt its infrastructure
mainly in the real estate and tourism sectors, resulting in a comparatively robust post war
economy. Major contributors to the reconstruction of
Lebanon include Saudi Arabia (with US$1.5 billion pledged), the European Union (with
about $1 billion) and a few other Persian Gulf countries with contributions of up to
$800 million.====Tourism====The tourism industry accounts for about 10%
of GDP. Lebanon managed to attract around 1,333,000
tourists in 2008, thus placing it as rank 79 out of 191 countries. In 2009, The New York Times ranked Beirut
the No. 1 travel destination worldwide due to its nightlife and hospitality. In January 2010, the Ministry of Tourism announced
that 1,851,081 tourists had visited Lebanon in 2009, a 39% increase from 2008. In 2009, Lebanon hosted the largest number
of tourists to date, eclipsing the previous record set before the Lebanese Civil War. Tourist arrivals reached two million in 2010,
but fell by 37% for the first 10 months of 2012, a decline caused by the war in neighbouring
Syria. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Japan are the three
most popular origin countries of foreign tourists to Lebanon. The recent influx of Japanese tourists has
caused the recent rise in popularity of Japanese Cuisine in Lebanon.==Demographics==The population of Lebanon was estimated to
be 6,006,668 in 2016, however no official census has been conducted since 1932 due to
the sensitive confessional political balance between Lebanon’s various religious groups. Identifying all Lebanese as ethnically Arab
is a widely employed example of panethnicity since in reality, the Lebanese “are descended
from many different peoples who are either indigenous, or have occupied, invaded, or
settled this corner of the world”, making Lebanon, “a mosaic of closely interrelated
cultures”. While at first glance, this ethnic, linguistic,
religious and denominational diversity might seem to cause civil and political unrest,
“for much of Lebanon’s history this multitudinous diversity of religious communities has coexisted
with little conflict”.The fertility rate fell from 5.00 in 1971 to 1.75 in 2004. Fertility rates vary considerably among the
different religious groups: in 2004 it was 2.10 for Shiites, 1.76 Sunnis and 1.61 for
Maronites.Lebanon has witnessed a series of migration waves: over 1,800,000 people emigrated
from the country in the 1975–2011 period. Millions of people of Lebanese descent are
spread throughout the world, mostly Christians, especially in Latin America. Brazil has the largest expatriate population. (See Lebanese Brazilians). Large numbers of Lebanese migrated to West
Africa, particularly to the Ivory Coast (home to over 100,000 Lebanese) and Senegal (roughly
30,000 Lebanese). Australia is home to over 270,000 Lebanese
(1999 est.). In Canada, there is also a large Lebanese
diaspora of approximately 250,000–700,000 people having Lebanese descent. (see Lebanese Canadians). Another region with a significant diaspora
is the Persian Gulf, where the countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar (around 25,000
people), Saudi Arabia and UAE act as host countries to many Lebanese. As of 2012, Lebanon was host to over 1,600,000
refugees and asylum seekers: 449,957 from Palestine, 5,986 from Iraq, over 1,100,000
from Syria, and 4,000 from Sudan. According to the Economic and Social Commission
for Western Asia of the United Nations, among the Syrian refugees, 71% live in poverty. The latest estimates by the United Nations
put the number of Syrian refugees at more than 1,250,000.In the last three decades,
lengthy and destructive armed conflicts have ravaged the country. The majority of Lebanese have been affected
by armed conflict; those with direct personal experience include 75% of the population,
and most others report suffering a range of hardships. In total, almost the entire population (96%)
has been affected in some way – either personally or because
of the wider consequences of armed conflict.===Religion===Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country
in the Middle East. As of 2014 the CIA World Factbook estimates
the following: Muslim 54% (27% Sunni Islam, 27% Shia Islam), Christian 40.5% (includes
21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite Catholic, 1% Protestant, 5.5% other
Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons. A study conducted by the Lebanese Information
Center and based on voter registration numbers shows that by 2011 the Christian population
was stable compared to that of previous years, making up 34.35% of the population; Muslims,
the Druze included, were 65.47% of the population. The World Values Survey of 2014 put the percentage
of atheists in Lebanon at 3.3%.It is believed that there has been a decline in the ratio
of Christians to Muslims over the past 60 years, due to higher emigration rates of Christians,
and a higher birth rate in the Muslim population. When the last census was held in 1932, Christians
made up 53% of Lebanon’s population. In 1956, it was estimated that the population
was 54% Christian and 44% Muslim.A demographic study conducted by the research firm Statistics
Lebanon found that approximately 27% of the population was Sunni, 27% Shia, 21% Maronite,
8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Druze, 5% Melkite, and 1% Protestant, with the remaining 6% mostly
belonging to smaller non-native to Lebanon Christian denominations.Other sources like
Euronews or the Madrid-based diary La Razón estimate the percentage of Christians to be
around 53%. Because the relative size of confessional
groups remains a sensitive issue, a national census has not been conducted since 1932. There are 18 state-recognized religious sects
– four Muslim, 12 Christian, one Druze, and one Jewish.The Sunni residents primarily
live in Tripoli, Western Beirut, the Southern coast of Lebanon, and Northern Lebanon.The
Shi’a residents primarily live in Southern Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and Southern Lebanon.The
Maronite residents primarily live in Eastern Beirut and the mountains of Lebanon. They are the largest Christian community in
Lebanon.The Greek Orthodox, the second largest Christian community in Lebanon, primarily
live in Koura, Beirut, Rachaya, Matn, Aley, Akkar, in the countryside around Tripoli,
Hasbaya and Marjeyoun. They are a minority of 10% in Zahle.The Greek
Catholics live mainly in Beirut, on the eastern slopes of the Lebanon mountains and in Zahle
which is predominantly Greek Catholic.===Language===Article 11 of Lebanon’s Constitution states
that “Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French
language is to be used”. The majority of Lebanese people speak Lebanese
Arabic, which is grouped in a larger category called Levantine Arabic, while Modern Standard
Arabic is mostly used in magazines, newspapers, and formal broadcast media. Lebanese Sign Language is the language of
the deaf community. Almost 40% of Lebanese are considered francophone,
and another 15% “partial francophone”, and 70% of Lebanon’s secondary schools use French
as a second language of instruction. By comparison, English is used as a secondary
language in 30% of Lebanon’s secondary schools. The use of French is a legacy of France’s
historic ties to the region, including its League of Nations mandate over Lebanon following
World War I; as of 2005, some 20% of the population used French on a daily basis. The use of Arabic by Lebanon’s educated youth
is declining, as they usually prefer to speak in French and, to a lesser extent, English,
which are seen as more fashionable.English is increasingly used in science and business
interactions. Lebanese citizens of Armenian, Greek, or Kurdish
descent often speak their ancestral languages with varying degrees of fluency. As of 2009, there were around 150,000 Armenians
in Lebanon, or around 5% of the population.==Culture==The culture of Lebanon reflects the legacy
of various civilizations spanning thousands of years. Originally home to the Canaanite- Phoenicians,
and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks,
the Romans, the Arabs, the Fatimids, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French,
Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon’s diverse population, composed of
different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country’s festivals,
musical styles and literature as well as cuisine. Despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious
and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they “share an almost common culture”. Lebanese Arabic is universally spoken while
food, music, and literature are deep-rooted “in wider Mediterranean and Arab Levantine
norms”.===Arts===In visual arts, Moustafa Farroukh was one
of Lebanon’s most prominent painters of the 20th century. Formally trained in Rome and Paris, he exhibited
in venues from Paris to New York to Beirut over his career. Many more contemporary artists are currently
active, such as Walid Raad, a contemporary media artist currently residing in New York.In
the field of photography, the Arab Image Foundation has a collection of over 400,000 photographs
from Lebanon and the Middle East. The photographs can be viewed in a research
center and various events and publications have been produced in Lebanon and worldwide
to promote the collection.===Literature===
In literature, Khalil Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare
and Laozi. He is particularly known for his book The
Prophet (1923), which has been translated into more than twenty different languages
and is the second best selling book in the 20th century behind the Bible.Ameen Rihani
was a major figure in the mahjar literary movement developed by Arab emigrants in North
America, and an early theorist of Arab nationalism. Mikha’il Na’ima is widely recognized as one
of the most important figures in modern Arabic letters and one of the most important spiritual
writers of the 20th century. Several contemporary Lebanese writers have
also achieved international success; including Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf, Hanan al-Shaykh,
and Georges Schehadé.===Music===The music of Lebanon is pervasive in Lebanese
society. While traditional folk music remains popular
in Lebanon, modern music reconciling Western and traditional Arabic styles, pop, and fusion
are rapidly advancing in popularity. Lebanese artists like Fairuz, Wadih El Safi
or Sabah are widely known and appreciated in Lebanon and in the Arab world. Lebanese singer Lydia Canaan is listed in
the catalog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives in Cleveland,
Ohio, USA as the first rock star of the Middle East. Radio stations feature a variety of music,
including traditional Lebanese, classical Arabic, Armenian and modern French, English,
American, and Latin tunes.===Media and cinema===
The cinema of Lebanon, according to film critic and historian, Roy Armes, was the only cinema
in the Arabic-speaking region, other than Egypt’s, that could amount to a national cinema. Cinema in Lebanon has been in existence since
the 1920s, and the country has produced over 500 films. The media of Lebanon is not only a regional
center of production but also the most liberal and free in the Arab world. According to Press freedom’s Reporters Without
Borders, “the media have more freedom in Lebanon than in any other Arab country”. Despite its small population and geographic
size, Lebanon plays an influential role in the production of information in the Arab
world and is “at the core of a regional media network with global implications”.===Holidays and festivals===Lebanon celebrates national and both Christian
and Muslim holidays. Christian holidays are celebrated following
both the Gregorian Calendar and Julian Calendar. Greek Orthodox (with the exception of Easter),
Catholics, Protestants, and Melkite Christians follow the Gregorian Calendar and thus celebrate
Christmas on 25 December. Armenian Apostolic Christians celebrate Christmas
on 6 January, as they follow the Julian Calendar. Muslim holidays are followed based on the
Islamic lunar calendar. Muslim holidays that are celebrated include
Eid al-Fitr (the three-day feast at the end of the Ramadan month), Eid al-Adha (The Feast
of the Sacrifice) which is celebrated during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and also celebrates
Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad,
and Ashura (the Shiite Day of Mourning). Lebanon’s National Holidays include Workers
Day, Independence day, and Martyrs Day. Music festivals, often hosted at historical
sites, are a customary element of Lebanese culture. Among the most famous are Baalbeck International
Festival, Byblos International Festival, Beiteddine International Festival, Jounieh International
Festival, Broumana Festival, Batroun International Festival, Ehmej Festival, Dhour Chwer Festival
and Tyr Festival. These festivals are promoted by Lebanon’s
Ministry of Tourism. Lebanon hosts about 15 concerts from international
performers each year, ranking 1st for nightlife in the Middle East, and 6th worldwide.===Cuisine===Lebanese cuisine is similar to those of many
countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. The Lebanese national dishes are the kibbe,
a meat pie made from finely minced lamb and burghul (cracked wheat), and the tabbouleh,
a salad made from parsley, tomatoes, and burghul. The national beverage is arak, a strong anise-flavored
liquor made from fermented grape juice. It is usually drunk with water and ice, which
turns the clear liquid milky-white, and usually accompanies food. Arak is a strong spirit similar to the Greek
ouzo and the Turkish raki. Lebanese restaurant meals begin with a wide
array of mezze – small savoury dishes, such as dips, salads, and pastries. The mezze are typically followed by a selection
of grilled meat or fish. In general, meals are finished with Arabic
coffee and fresh fruit, though sometimes a selection of traditional sweets will be offered
as well. M’Juhdara, a thick stew of onions, rice, and
lentils, is sometimes considered poor man’s fare and is often eaten around Lent by people
in the Lebanese diaspora. Beirut and its environs contain many restaurants
of various national origins. At the same time, wine is growing in popularity
and a number of vineyards currently exist in the Bekaa valley and elsewhere. Beer is also highly popular and Lebanon produces
a number of local beers, of which almaza is perhaps the most popular.===Sports===Lebanon has six ski resorts. Because of Lebanon’s unique geography, it
is possible to go skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoon. At the competitive level, basketball and football
are among Lebanon’s most popular sports. Canoeing, cycling, rafting, climbing, swimming,
sailing and caving are among the other common leisure sports in Lebanon. The Beirut Marathon is held every fall, drawing
top runners from Lebanon and abroad.Rugby league is a relatively new but growing sport
in Lebanon. The Lebanon national rugby league team participated
in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, and narrowly missed qualification for the 2008 and 2013
tournaments. Lebanon also took part in the 2009 European
Cup where, after narrowly failing to qualify for the final, the team defeated Ireland to
finish 3rd in the tournament. Hazem El Masri, who was born in Tripoli, will
always be considered to be the greatest Lebanese to ever play the game. He immigrated to Sydney, Australia from Lebanon
in 1988. He became the greatest point-scorer in National
Rugby League history in 2009 by scoring himself 2418 points while playing for Australian club,
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs where he also holds the record for most first grade appearances
for the club with 317 games and most tries for the club with 159 tries. At international level, He also hold the records
as top-try scorer with 12 tries and top-point scorer with 136 points for the Lebanese national
team.Lebanon participates in Basketball. The Lebanese National Team qualified for the
FIBA World Championship 3 times in a row. Dominant Basketball teams in Lebanon are Sporting
Al Riyadi Beirut, who are the current Arab and Asian champions, Club Sagesse who were
able to earn the Asian and Arab championships before. Fadi El Khatib is the most decorated player
in the Lebanese National Basketball League. Football is also one of the more popular sports
in the country with the Lebanese Football League, whose most successful clubs are the
Al-Ansar Club and the Nejmeh SC, with notable players being Roda Antar and Youssef Mohamad,
the first Arab to captain a European premier league team. In recent years, Lebanon has hosted the AFC
Asian Cup and the Pan Arab Games. Lebanon hosted the 2009 Jeux de la Francophonie
from 27 September to 6 October, and have participated in every Olympic Games since its independence,
winning a total of four medals.Prominent Lebanese bodybuilders include Samir Bannout, Mohammad
Bannout and Ahmad Haidar. Water sports have also shown to be very active
in the past years, in Lebanon. Since 2012 and with the emergence of the Lebanon
Water Festival NGO, more emphasis has been placed on those sports, and Lebanon has been
pushed forward as a water sport destination internationally. They host different contests and water show
sports that encourage their fans to participate and win big.==Education==Listed by the World Economic Forum’s 2013
Global Information Technology Report, Lebanon has been ranked globally as the fourth best
country for math and science education, and as the tenth best overall for quality of education. In quality of management schools, the country
was ranked 13th worldwide.The United Nations assigned Lebanon an education index of 0.871
in 2008. The index, which is determined by the adult
literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio, ranked
the country 88th out of the 177 countries participating.All Lebanese schools are required
to follow a prescribed curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Some of the 1400 private schools offer IB
programs, and may also add more courses to their curriculum with approval from the Ministry
of Education. The first eight years of education are, by
law, compulsory.Lebanon has forty-one nationally accredited universities, several of which
are internationally recognized. The American University of Beirut (AUB) and
the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) were the first Anglophone and the first Francophone
universities to open in Lebanon, respectively. Universities in Lebanon, both public and private,
largely operate in French or English.According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities’s,
the top-ranking universities in the country are the American University of Beirut (#989
worldwide), Lebanese American University (#2,178 worldwide), Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth
(#2,603 worldwide), Université Libanaise (#3,826 worldwide) and Holy Spirit University
of Kaslik (#5,525 worldwide).==Health==
In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 7.03% of the country’s GDP. In 2009, there were 31.29 physicians and 19.71
nurses per 10,000 inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 72.59 years
in 2011, or 70.48 years for males and 74.80 years for females.By the end of the civil
war, only one third of the country’s public hospitals were operational, each with an average
of only 20 beds. By 2009 the country had 28
public hospitals, with a total of 2,550 beds. At public hospitals, hospitalized uninsured
patients pay 5% of the bill, in comparison with 15% in private hospitals, with the Ministry
of Public Health reimbursing the remainder. The Ministry of Public Health contracts with
138 private hospitals and 25 public hospitals.In 2011, there were 236,643 subsidized admissions
to hospitals; 164,244 in private hospitals, and 72,399 in public hospitals. More patients visit private hospitals than
public hospitals, because the private beds supply is higher.Recently, there has been
an increase in foodborne illnesses which has put an emphasis on the importance of the safety
of the food chain in Lebanon. This raised the illues public awareness. More restaurants are seeking information and
compliance with International Organization for Standardization.==See also==Index of Lebanon-related articles
Outline of Lebanon==Notes

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