Lebanon

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Lebanon
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Location of Lebanon
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Map of Lebanon
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Introduction

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Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French separated out the region of Lebanon in 1920, and granted this area independence in 1943. A lengthy civil war (1975-90) devastated the country, but Lebanon has since made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater voice in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, Lebanon has conducted several successful elections. Most militias have been reduced or disbanded, with the exception of Hizballah, designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and Palestinian militant groups. During Lebanon's civil war, the Arab League legitimized in the Ta'if Accord Syria's troop deployment, numbering about 16,000 based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and the passage in September 2004 of UNSCR 1559 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 22 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"), and Syria withdrew the remainder of its military forces in April 2005. In May-June 2005, Lebanon held its first legislative elections since the end of the civil war free of foreign interference, handing a majority to the bloc led by Sa'ad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son. In July 2006, Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel in which approximately 1,200 Lebanese civilians were killed. UNSCR 1701 ended the war in August 2006, and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) deployed throughout the country for the first time in decades, charged with securing Lebanon's borders against weapons smuggling and maintaining a weapons-free zone in south Lebanon with the help of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The LAF in May-September 2007 battled Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp, winning a decisive victory, but destroying the camp and displacing 30,000 Palestinian residents. Lebanese politicians in November 2007 were unable to agree on a successor to Emile LAHUD when he stepped down as president, creating a political vacuum until the election of LAF Commander Gen. Michel SULAYMAN in May 2008 and the formation of a new unity government in July 2008. Legislative elections in June 2009 again produced victory for the bloc led by Sa'ad HARIRI, but a period of prolonged negotiation over the composition of the cabinet ensued. A national unity government was finally formed in November 2009 and approved by the National Assembly the following month. In January 2010, Lebanon assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2010-11 term. Inspired by the popular revolts that began in late 2010 against dictatorships across the Middle East and North Africa, marches and demonstrations in Lebanon were directed instead against sectarian politics. Protesters saw the country's religious sectarian politics as the primary cause of Lebanon's anemic government. The first protests in late February 2011, although limited in size, gained some traction.
 
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Geography

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Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
 
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33 50 N, 35 50 E
 
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total: 10,400 sq km
country comparison to the world: 170
land: 10,230 sq km
water: 170 sq km
 
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about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut
 
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total: 454 km
border countries: Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km
 
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225 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
 
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Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows
 
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narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains
 
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lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Qornet es Saouda 3,088 m
 
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limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land
 
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arable land: 16.35%
permanent crops: 13.75%
other: 69.9% (2005)
 
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900 sq km (2008)
 
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4.8 cu km (1997)
 
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total: 1.38 cu km/yr (33%/1%/67%)
per capita: 385 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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dust storms, sandstorms
 
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deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Beirut from vehicular traffic and the burning of industrial wastes; pollution of coastal waters from raw sewage and oil spills
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
 
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Nahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity
 
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People and Society

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noun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Lebanese
 
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Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%
note: many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians
 
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Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
 
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Muslim 59.7% (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Coptic, Protestant), other 1.3%
note: 17 religious sects recognized
 
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4,143,101 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
 
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0-14 years: 23% (male 487,930/female 464,678)
15-64 years: 68% (male 1,370,628/female 1,446,173)
65 years and over: 9% (male 173,073/female 200,619) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 29.8 years
male: 28.7 years
female: 31 years (2011 est.)
 
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0.244% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
 
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15.02 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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6.54 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
 
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-6.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 200
 
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urban population: 87% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 0.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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BEIRUT (capital) 1.909 million (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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26 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 120
 
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total: 15.85 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 113
male: 15.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 75.01 years
country comparison to the world: 90
male: 73.48 years
female: 76.62 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.77 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
 
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8.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 50
 
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3.54 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 27
 
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3.5 beds/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 60
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 87% of population
total: 98% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 13% of population
total: 2% of population (2000)
 
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0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
 
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3,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
 
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fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
 
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13.5% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 43
 
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4.2% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 91
 
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1.8% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 158
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.4%
male: 93.1%
female: 82.2% (2003 est.)
 
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total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2009)
 
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total: 22.1%
country comparison to the world: 43
male: 22.3%
female: 21.5% (2007)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Lebanese Republic
conventional short form: Lebanon
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah
local short form: Lubnan
former: Greater Lebanon
 
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republic
 
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name: Beirut
geographic coordinates: 33 52 N, 35 30 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
 
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6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye
note: two new governorates - Aakkar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented
 
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22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
 
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Independence Day, 22 November (1943)
 
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23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently in 1990 to include changes necessitated by the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta'if Accord) of October 1989
 
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mixed legal system of civil law based on the French civil code and religious laws covering personal status, marriage, divorce, and other family relations of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education; excludes military personnel
 
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chief of state: President Michel SULAYMAN (since 25 May 2008)
head of government: Prime Minister Najib MIQATI (since 7 July 2011), Deputy Prime Minister Samir MOQBIL (since 7 July 2011)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly
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elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held on 25 May 2008 (next to be held in 2014); the prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly
election results: Michel SULAYMAN elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 for, 6 abstentions, 3 invalidated; 1 seat unfilled due to death of incumbent
 
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unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab (Arabic) or Assemblee Nationale (French) (128 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by group - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by group - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57
 
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four Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases); Constitutional Council (called for in Ta'if Accord - rules on constitutionality of laws); Supreme Council (hears charges against the president and prime minister as needed)
 
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14 March Coalition: Democratic Left [Ilyas ATALLAH]; Democratic Renewal Movement [Nassib LAHUD]; Future Movement Bloc [Sa'ad al-HARIRI]; Kataeb Party [Amine GEMAYEL]; Lebanese Forces [Samir JA'JA]; Tripoli Independent Bloc
8 March Coalition: Development and Resistance Bloc [Nabih BERRI, leader of Amal Movement]; Free Patriotic Movement [Michel AWN]; Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc [Mohammad RA'AD] (includes Hizballah [Hassan NASRALLAH]); Nasserite Popular Movement [Usama SAAD]; Popular Bloc [Elias SKAFF]; Syrian Ba'th Party [Sayez SHUKR]; Syrian Social Nationalist Party [Ali QANSO]; Tashnaq [Hovig MEKHITIRIAN]
Independent: Democratic Gathering Bloc [Walid JUNBLATT, leader of Progressive Socialist Party]; Metn Bloc [Michel MURR]
 
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Maronite Church [Patriarch Nasrallah SFAYR]
other: note - most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps
 
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ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Antoine CHEDID
chancery: 2560 28th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6300
FAX: [1] (202) 939-6324
consulate(s) general: Detroit, New York, Los Angeles
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Maura CONNELLY
embassy: Awkar, Lebanon (Awkar facing the Municipality)
mailing address: P. O. Box 70-840, Antelias, Lebanon; from US: US Embassy Beirut, 6070 Beirut Place, Washington, DC 20521-6070
telephone: [961] (4) 542600, 543600
FAX: [961] (4) 544136
 
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three horizontal bands consisting of red (top), white (middle, double width), and red (bottom) with a green cedar tree centered in the white band; the red bands symbolize blood shed for liberation, the white band denotes peace, the snow of the mountains, and purity; the green cedar tree is the symbol of Lebanon and represents eternity, steadiness, happiness, and prosperity
 
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cedar tree
 
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name: "Kulluna lil-watan" (All Of Us, For Our Country!)
lyrics/music: Rachid NAKHLE/Wadih SABRA
note: adopted 1927; the anthem was chosen following a nationwide competition
 
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Economy

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Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. In the years since, Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the Rafiq HARIRI government in 2000 began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and passing legislation to privatize state enterprises, but economic and financial reform initiatives stalled and public debt continued to grow despite receipt of more than $2 billion in bilateral assistance at the 2002 Paris II Donors Conference. The Israeli-Hizballah conflict in July-August 2006 caused an estimated $3.6 billion in infrastructure damage, and prompted international donors to pledge nearly $1 billion in recovery and reconstruction assistance. Donors met again in January 2007 at the Paris III Donor Conference and pledged more than $7.5 billion to Lebanon for development projects and budget support, conditioned on progress on Beirut's fiscal reform and privatization program. An 18-month political stalemate and sporadic sectarian and political violence hampered economic activity, particularly tourism, retail sales, and investment, until the new government was formed in July 2008. Political stability following the Doha Accord of May 2008 helped boost tourism and, together with a strong banking sector, enabled real GDP growth of 7% per year in 2009-10 despite a slowdown in the region.
 
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$59.37 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$55.23 billion (2009 est.)
$50.9 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$39.25 billion (2010 est.)
 
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7.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 29
8.5% (2009 est.)
9.3% (2008 est.)
 
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$14,400 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
$13,500 (2009 est.)
$12,600 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 4.7%
industry: 16%
services: 79.4% (2010 est.)
 
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1.481 million
country comparison to the world: 130
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2007 est.)
 
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
 
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NA%
 
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28% (1999 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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33.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
 
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revenues: $8.414 billion
expenditures: $11.31 billion (2010 est.)
 
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21.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
 
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-7.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
 
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133.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
148.2% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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4% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
1.2% (2009 est.)
 
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3.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
10% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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8.337% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110
9.568% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$3.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
$3.21 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$92 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
$82.07 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$64.12 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
$56.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$12.59 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 64
$12.89 billion (31 December 2009)
$9.641 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
 
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banking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating
 
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2.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
 
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10.41 billion kWh (2009)
country comparison to the world: 89
 
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9.793 billion kWh (2009)
country comparison to the world: 89
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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1.114 billion kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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106,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
 
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78,760 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
 
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-$4.688 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
-$7.244 billion (2009 est.)
 
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$5.466 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
$4.716 billion (2009 est.)
 
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jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
 
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Syria 26.8%, UAE 13.5%, Saudi Arabia 6.4%, Turkey 5.2%, Qatar 4.1%, Switzerland 4% (2010)
 
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$17.73 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
$15.9 billion (2009 est.)
 
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petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
 
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US 10.4%, Syria 10.3%, Italy 7.6%, China 7.5%, France 6.9%, Ukraine 5.5%, Germany 5.3% (2010)
 
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$44.52 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$39.16 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$30.45 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
$30.74 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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$NA
 
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Lebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar -
1,507.5 (2010)
1,507.5 (2009)
1,507.5 (2008)
1,507.5 (2007)
1,507.5 (2006)
 
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Communications

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887,800 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 85
 
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2.875 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 125
 
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general assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete
domestic: two mobile-cellular networks provide good service; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 55 per 100 persons
international: country code - 961; submarine cable links to Cyprus, Egypt, and Syria; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean); coaxial cable to Syria (2009)
 
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7 TV stations in operation, 1 of which is state-owned; more than 30 radio stations, 1 of which is state-owned; satellite and cable TV services are available; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible through partner stations (2007)
 
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.lb
 
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51,451 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 87
 
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1 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 100
 
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Transportation

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7 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 170
 
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total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)
 
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gas 102 km (2010)
 
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total: 401 km
country comparison to the world: 116
standard gauge: 319 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 82 km 1.050-m gauge
note: rail system unusable because of the damage done during fighting in the 1980s and in 2006 (2008)
 
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total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)
country comparison to the world: 148
 
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total: 29
country comparison to the world: 86
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 12, carrier 11, refrigerated cargo 1, vehicle carrier 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Syria 3)
registered in other countries: 40 (Barbados 2, Cambodia 6, Comoros 3, Egypt 1, Georgia 1, Honduras 2, Liberia 1, Malta 7, Moldova 1, Panama 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 4, Syria 2, Togo 6, unknown 2) (2010)
 
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Beirut, Tripoli
 
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Military

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Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army ((Al Jaysh al Lubnaniya) includes Navy (Al Quwwat al Bahiriyya al Lubnaniya), Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Lubnaniya)) (2010)
 
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18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2007)
 
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males age 16-49: 1,081,016
females age 16-49: 1,115,349 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 920,825
females age 16-49: 941,806 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 36,856
female: 35,121 (2010 est.)
 
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3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
 
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Transnational Issues

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lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms area in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights; the roughly 2,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been in place since 1978
 
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refugees (country of origin): 405,425 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)); 50,000-60,000 (Iraq)
IDPs: 17,000 (1975-90 civil war, Israeli invasions); 200,000 (July-August 2006 war) (2007)
 
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current situation: Lebanon is a source and destination country for women and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the country may also be a transit point for Eastern European women and children destined for sex trafficking in other Middle Eastern countries; women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Madagascar who travel to Lebanon voluntarily with the assistance of recruitment agencies to work in domestic service often find themselves in conditions of forced labor; some Syrian women in street prostitution may be forced to engage in the sex trade and Syrian girls are reportedly brought to Lebanon for the purpose of prostitution
tier rating: Tier 3 - the government neither made combating human trafficking a national priority during the reporting period nor allocated resources to protecting victims; it also made no concerted efforts to educate the Lebanese public regarding the issue and failed to show substantial progress in identifying foreign victims of trafficking; it failed to bring specific charges of forced labor or forced prostitution in cases involving abuses against migrant workers and did not provide stringent punishments that would deter such crimes; the government did, however, draft legislation providing increased protection to migrant domestic workers, transmit a draft anti-trafficking law to parliament for review, establish an office and hotline to receive workers' complaints, and improve recognition of trafficking indicators through training (2011)
 
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cannabis cultivation dramatically reduced to 2,500 hectares in 2002 despite continued significant cannabis consumption; opium poppy cultivation minimal; small amounts of Latin American cocaine and Southwest Asian heroin transit country on way to European markets and for Middle Eastern consumption; money laundering of drug proceeds fuels concern that extremists are benefiting from drug trafficking
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