Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French demarcated the region of Lebanon in 1920 and granted this area independence in 1943. Since independence the country has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on its position as a regional center for finance and trade. The country's 1975-90 civil war that resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities, was followed by years of social and political instability. Sectarianism is a key element of Lebanese political life. Neighboring Syria has long influenced Lebanon's foreign policy and internal policies, and its military occupied Lebanon from 1976 until 2005. The Lebanon-based Hizballah militia and Israel continued attacks and counterattacks against each other after Syria's withdrawal, and fought a brief war in 2006. Lebanon's borders with Syria and Israel remain unresolved.

Other Information

Natural Resources

limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land

Land Use

arable land: 10.72%
permanent crops: 12.06%
other: 77.22% (2011)


5,882,562 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 110

Ethnic Groups

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


Muslim 54% (27% Sunni, 27% Shia), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 6.5% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons
note: 18 religious sects r


Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.6%
male: 93.4%
female: 86% (2007 est.)



Government Type



22 November 1943 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National Holiday

Independence Day, 22 November (1943)