GENERAL /

Date Established: November 22, 1943

US Aid: Obligated: $45 million
Spent: $48 million

GOVERNMENT /

Chief of State: President Michel Awn

Head of Government: Prime Minister Hassan Diab

Government Type: Parliamentary Republic

Capital: Beirut

Legislature: Parliament of Lebanon

Judiciary: Mixed legal system of civil law based on French civil code, Ottoman legal tradition, and religious laws covering personal status and other family relations of the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities

Ambassador to US: Gabriel Issa

US Ambassador: Dorothy C. Shea

PEOPLE & SOCIETY /

Population: 5.5 million

Language: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian

Ethnicity: Arabs (95%), Armenian (4%), other (1%)

Religion: Sunni (30.6%), Shia (30.5%), Christian (majority Maronite Catholics) (33.7%), Druze (5.2%), small number of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus

Christian Communities: Syriac Maronite, Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox, Greek (Melkite) Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic, Protestant

Lebanon

Lebanon

BACKGROUND

Lebanon is a small country in the Near East, bordering Syria to the north and the east, Israel to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Since the 18th century, Mount Lebanon, the historical nucleus of the state of Lebanon, became a safe haven and homeland for many persecuted Christians from the Ottoman Empire. The Republic of Lebanon was born on September 1, 1920 in the aftermath of World War I, under the French mandate, to defend and protect Christian minorities from falling into subordination to a pan-Arab state where Muslims would be dominant. Lebanon gained its independence from the French on November 22, 1943.

Boasting a patchwork of religious diversity, Lebanon is home to 18 communities divided into Christians, Muslims (Sunnis and Shi`as) and Druzes. Amongst the Christian denominations, the Syriac Maronite Church is the largest, followed by the Greek (Antiochian) Orthodox Church. It is estimated that the Christians today constitute 33.7% of the Lebanese population. To this day, Lebanon remains the only country in the Arab world where the head of State is Christian.

LATEST NEWS

  • Lebanon blast: Ammonium nitrate behind many industrial accidents: On 4th August a massive explosion took place at the Beirut Port. It was said that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate had caused the blast which damaged the capital. - Al Jazeera

  • Hezbollah official meets with French President in Beirut: The French President Emmanuel Macron met with representatives of Hezbollah at the headquarters of the French embassy in Lebanon. This was the first meeting between a representative of Hezbollah and the French President. - Al Masdar

  • Lebanese authorities arrest 16 people over the Beirut Port explosion: On 6th August, the Lebanese authorities arrested 16 people and placed them in custody. This is due to an investigation into the lethal explosion at Beirut port two days prior. - Al Masdar

  • Lebanon in ‘state of emergency’ as Beirut blast death toll climbs: After the explosions at the Port of Beirut, the cabinet ordered port officials involved in storing the material since 2014 to be put in house arrest and announce state of emergency in Beirut that will last for two weeks. - Arab News

  • The Beirut Blast Is A Reminder That Hezbollah Has Ruined Lebanon: More than any other group in Lebanon, the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah bears responsibility for the conditions that led to the blast. - The Federalist

  • France deserves US support on Lebanon reform gambit: The only way to reform Lebanon is to end its sectarian spoils system. That means real action to counter corruption, an end to Hezbollah's weapon-wielded veto over power, and an assurance that top jobs are filled by professionals rather than party hacks. - Washington Examiner