title
macrohistory & world report

Lebanon

Map of Lebanon

Lebanon (capital Beirut) and neighbor states

World Factbook as of November 2014: "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, complex customs procedures, 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 derailed Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007 following the July 2006 war. The collapse of the MIKATI government in early 2011 ... slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-13, after four years of 8% average growth. In September 2011 the Cabinet endorsed a bill that would provide $1.2 billion in funding to improve Lebanon's downtrodden electricity sector, but fiscal limitations will test the government's ability to invest in other areas, such as water."

Economic growth
2011: 1.5%
2010: 7.5%
2009: 8.5%

Public debt
2011: 137.1% of GDP (ranks 5th highest)
2010: 133.8% of GDP

Export/import ratio
2011: a bad imbalance, exports only 25.9% of imports in cash value.

Main trading parter: Syria.

Exports
jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper

Imports
petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals

Health expenditures
2009: 8.2% of GDP

Education expenditures
2009: 1.8% of GDP (ranks 158th among 163 nations – near the bottom)

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 3.1%

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 87%

Net migration rate
2012: A net loss of 12.08 persons per 1,000 population.

Ethnic groups
Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1%
World Factbook: "Many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians."

Religions
World Factbook (2011): 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, Copt, Protestant), other 1.3% note: 17 religious sects recognized.

Geography

South of Syria, north of Israel. 225 kilometers of coastline.

Government

The president is elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term and may not serve consecutive terms. The head of government is the prime minister. The prime minister and deputy prime minister are appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly. The National Assembly has 128 seats, with members are elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms.

Capital: Beirut.

Recent History

Hezbollah: in reaction to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah emerged with financial backing from Iran, having in common with Iran a Shia orientation. Hezbollah was welfare oriented and had a military wing, called the Islamic Resistance. The latter was credited by many in the Arab world with having driven Israel out of southern Lebanon in the year 2000. Al Arabiya writes: "Upon the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah began consolidating power internally." In 2004, UN Resolution 1559 called for the disarming of militias in Lebanon, but Hezbollah has refused.

May 4, 2005: It is being said that Lebanon has a generation of young people who want or demand better government.

Al Arabiya writes that Hezbollah forced Lebanon into a war with Israel in 2006, and in 2008 it used its arsenal against its own people to occupy Beirut.

Because of its tightly regulated financial system, Lebanese banks largely avoided the financial crisis of 2007–2010.

SOURCES:
The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.