|Form of government||Parliamentary republic|
|Time zone||UTC + 2h|
|Telephone area code||00961 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
The Lebanese Republic is located in the Middle East and, with an area of 10,450 km², is about half the size of the German state of Hesse. The country borders the Mediterranean to the west, Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south.
The Mediterranean coast is about 220 km long, the plain behind is a maximum of 10 km wide. To the east of this is the Lebanon Mountains, which reach heights of over 3,000 m (highest elevation in the country, Qurnat as Sawda, at 3,083 m). The mountain range runs almost parallel to the coast and flattens slightly towards the south. Further to the east, the Antilibanon runs parallel to the Lebanon Mountains, where heights of up to 2,500 m are reached. The main ridge of Antilibanon forms the border with neighboring Syria. Between the two mountain ranges, the bike valley, which is between eight and 15 km wide, lies at a height of 800 to 1200 m, which represents the continuation of the Jordan ditch.
Lebanon’s longest river, the Litani, flows through the bikasink, which rises at the west foot of Antilibanon and, after a length of around 145 km, flows into the Mediterranean near Sur. The capital Beirut is located on the Mediterranean coast.
The climate in Lebanon is predominantly Mediterranean: summers are hot and dry, the average July values in Beirut on the coast are around 28 °C. The winters are mild and humid, in January the average temperature is around 14 °C. In the coastal plain and on the western slopes of the Lebanon Mountains, more than 1,500 mm of precipitation is measured annually; above 2,800 m, this turns into snow. The bike sink and the Antilibanon receive significantly less rain, here a maximum of 700 mm is measured. It rains the most in the winter months from November to March. In the interior, the climate is more continental: summer temperatures are higher (on average 32 °C in the north), winters are significantly cooler (January average 8 °C).
Flora and fauna
Only about 8% of the total area of the country is forested. The originally large forests were cleared, now macchia dominates. The most common tree species are pine, cedar, oak and cypress.
Due to the limitation of the natural habitat, many animal species have been drastically decimated or are no longer found in the country. Wild donkeys and gazelles are rarely found, as are wild cats. Jackals are common. Numerous species of birds of prey such as eagles, buzzards and falcons live in the mountains. In the coastal area there are flamingos, pelicans and cormorants.
Around 3.83 million people live in Lebanon, almost 90% of them in cities. By far the largest city is the capital Beirut with over 2 million residents. In addition to the Beirut metropolitan area, the coastal plain and the bike sink are the most densely populated regions in Lebanon (average population density: 367 residents per square kilometer).
According to COUNTRYAAH, 80% of the population are Lebanese, 16% are Palestinians. 60% of the population are followers of Islam, around half of whom are Sunnis, and there are also Shiites and Druze. Around 38% are Christians, of whom the Maronites are by far the largest group, followed by the Greek Orthodox and the Greek Catholics. There are a total of 18 recognized religious communities in the country.
The official language in Lebanon is Arabic, and English, French, Armenian and Kurdish are also spoken. Population growth has dropped to around 1.25% and the average life expectancy is 73 years. Although there is no compulsory schooling, the literacy rate in the country is around 88%.
Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. It is based on the revised constitution of 1926 and the Taif Agreement of 1989, which ended the civil war and contains general constitutional principles and provisions on the political system (distribution of political power taking into account denominations). The president must be Maronit, the prime minister Sunnit and the parliament president a Shiite.
The head of state and the holder of the executive is the President (since May 2008 Michel Sulaiman), who is elected by Parliament for a term of six years. The President appoints the Prime Minister (since February 2014 Tammam Salam) and the members of the Cabinet on the proposal of the Parliament.
The legislature lies with the assembly of deputies (Madschlis an-Nuwaab), whose 128 deputies are elected by the people for a term of four years. Here, according to the constitution and the Taif Agreement, the seats are allocated equally to Christians and Muslims. The Taif Agreement already provides for the abolition of confessionalism.
Lebanon is divided into six administrative districts.
The civil war in Lebanon has severely damaged the country’s economy. Foreign funding and reforms saw an upswing in the 1990s with stable growth rates. The war with Israel in 2006 hit the Lebanese economy again. With the help of international funds, the largely destroyed infrastructure was rebuilt. Immense public debt remains a major problem.
Around 30% of the state can be used for agriculture. 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) is generated in this sector. Agriculture is mainly carried out in the coastal plain and in the southern section of the bike sink, cereals, fruit and vegetables are grown. Livestock breeding (sheep, goats, cattle) is concentrated in the northern part of the bike sink and in the mountains. The population’s own needs cannot be met; food is also imported.
Many industrial plants were destroyed by the civil war. The industrial sector’s share of GDP is one fifth, with a focus on the processing of food, wood and oil, and the manufacture of textiles and paper. Lebanon has smaller amounts of crude oil in terms of raw materials; other raw materials are salt, iron ore, limestone, copper, manganese and phosphate. The country has high hopes for the natural gas and oil reserves suspected off the coast. The energy requirement is covered by imported petroleum, some by hydropower plants.
Banks and trading houses traditionally have economic importance in Lebanon. After the end of the civil war, their importance increased again, particularly in the capital Beirut, and wholesalers and banks settled again. The tourism sector is also showing a positive trend. The money orders from Lebanese living abroad also play an important role.
South Africa, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Syria are the most important trading partners for the export (preliminary products of the jewelry industry, paper, food and beverages, textiles). Above all, oil, machinery, electrical appliances, metals and metal products from the USA, Italy, China, France and Germany are imported.
There is an international airport in Beirut. Besides Beirut, Tripoli is an important port.
The currency is the Lebanese pound.