(redirected from Republic of Lebanon)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(lĕb`ənən, –nŏn'), officially Lebanese Republic, republic (2015 est. pop. 5,851,000), 4,015 sq mi (10,400 sq km), SW Asia. The country is bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, on the north and east by Syria and on the south by Israel. The capital is BeirutBeirut
, Arab. Bayrut, Fr. Beyrouth, city (1996 est. pop. 1,200,000), W Lebanon, capital of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Lebanon Mts. Beirut is an important port and financial center with food processing industries.
..... Click the link for more information.

Land and People

Much of the terrain is mountainous; the Lebanon Mts., which run parallel to the coast, reach their highest point at Qurnet as-Sawda (10,131 ft/3,088 m); on the eastern border is the Anti-Lebanon range. Between the two mountain ranges lies the fertile valley of Al Biqa (avg. elev. 3,280 ft/1,000 m). The Orontes in the north and the Litani in the south are the main rivers. In addition to Beirut there are three ports, TripoliTripoli
or Tarabulus
, ancient Tripolis, city (1996 est. pop. 300,000), NW Lebanon, on the Mediterranean Sea. Citrus fruits, cotton, and other goods are exported from Tripoli. It has an oil refinery and is the terminus of an oil pipeline from Iraq.
..... Click the link for more information.
 in the north and Sidon (Saida) and Tyre (Sur) in the south.

About 95% of Lebanese are Arabs; Armenians are the principal minority. About 60% of the population is Muslim and about 40% is Christian, and each is divided into a number of subgroups, including ShiiteShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
..... Click the link for more information.
 and SunniSunni
[Arab. Sunna,=tradition], from ahl al-sunnah wa-l-jamaa [Arab.,=the people of the custom of the Prophet and community], the largest division of Islam. Sunni Islam is the heir to the early central Islamic state, in its ackowledgement of the legitimacy of the order of
..... Click the link for more information.
 Muslims, DruzeDruze
or Druse
, religious community of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, with important overseas branches in the Americas and Australia. The religious leadership prefers the name Muwahhidun (Unitarians).
..... Click the link for more information.
, and MaronitesMaronites
, Lebanese Christian community, in communion with the pope. By emigration they have spread to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, South America, and the United States and now number about one million.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Arabic is the official language; French, English, and Armenian are also spoken.


Until the economy was almost completely destroyed by the civil strife that rent the country from 1975 to 1990, Lebanon was long the distribution center for the Middle East, and commerce was its major industry. Beirut, a free port, was the region's financial and commercial hub. Throughout the 1980s the commercial and industrial life of Lebanon was in severe disarray, but by the 1990s the economy had at least partially revived, although the Israel invasion and air attacks of 2006 were a severe setback. Banking, insurance, food processing, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, jewelry, and wood and furniture products are now important. Oil refining and metal fabricating are also important industries. Other significant sources of income have been a revived tourism industry, remittances from Lebanese working abroad, and international aid. The illicit narcotics trade (opium, hashish, heroin) also has a considerable impact on the economy.

Farm products contribute only a small portion of the GDP. The main crops are citrus fruits, vegetables, olives, tobacco, and grapes. Sheep and goats are raised. Lebanon has few minerals. Not many of the famed cedars remain, although oak and pine are exploited.

The annual cost of Lebanon's imports is much greater than its earnings from exports. The country exports jewelry, chemicals, consumer goods, fruit, tobacco, construction materials, electric equipment, textile fibers, and paper, largely to other Arab countries. Imports include petroleum products, cars, medicine, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, and tobacco. The main trading partners are Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, and Saudi Arabia.


Lebanon's ethnic and religions diversity has had an enormous impact on its governmental system. Traditionally the president of the country is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim. The country is governed under the constitution of 1926 as amended. Under the constitution, the president, who is the head of state and wields real power, is elected by the legislature for a six-year term and cannot serve consecutive terms. The government is headed by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 128-seat National Assembly, whose members are elected by popular vote on the basis of party-list proportional representation for four-year terms. The country's political parties are generally sectarian. There are independent secular courts based on the French system and religious courts for such issues as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The Ta'if accord of 1989, which aimed at national reconciliation, gave Muslims a share in governmental power equal to that of Christians, and calls for all main religious groups to be represented in the cabinet. Administratively, Lebanon is divided into eight governorates.


Early History to Independence

In ancient times the area of Lebanon and Syria was occupied by the Canaanites, who founded the great Phoenician cities and later established a commercial maritime empire (see PhoeniciaPhoenicia
, ancient territory occupied by Phoenicians. The name Phoenicia also appears as Phenice and Phenicia. These people were Canaanites (see Canaan), and in the 9th cent. B.C.
..... Click the link for more information.
). Lebanon's cities as well as its forests and iron and copper mines (since exhausted) attracted the successive dominant powers in the Middle East. The Phoenician cities occupied a favored position in the Persian Empire and were conquered by Alexander the Great. The region came under Roman dominion starting in 64 B.C. (there are notable Roman ruins at BaalbekBaalbek
, ancient city, now in Lebanon, 35 mi (56 km) NW of Damascus, in the Al Biqa (Bekaa) valley. Originally it was probably devoted to the worship of Baal or Bel, the Phoenician sun god, although no traces of an early Phoenician settlement have survived.
..... Click the link for more information.
) and was Christianized before the Arab conquest in the 7th cent. By then the Maronites had established themselves—a cardinal fact in the history of Lebanon, which long remained predominantly Christian while Syria became Muslim. Later (11th cent.) the Druze settled in S Lebanon and in adjacent regions of Syria, and trouble between them and the Christians was to become a constant theme in regional history.

The Crusaders (see CrusadesCrusades
, series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. First Crusade

In the 7th cent., Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar.
..... Click the link for more information.
) were active in Lebanon (late 11th cent.) and were aided by the Lebanese Christians. After the Crusaders, Lebanon was loosely ruled by the Mamluks (c.1300). Invasions by Mongols and others contributed to the decline of trade until the reunification of the Middle East under the Ottoman Turks (early 16th cent.). Under Ottoman control, Lebanon had considerable autonomy, and powerful families ruled the country.

Many Western religious missions and businesses were established in the area in the 19th cent. Conflict among the religious communities, culminating in massacres of the Maronites by the Druze in 1860, led to intervention by France (1861), and the Ottoman sultan was forced to appoint a Christian governor for Lebanon. The French were given the mandate of Syria after World War I by the League of Nations; Lebanon was a part of that mandate.

The French, being Catholic, separated Lebanon (home of most of the Maronite Catholics) from Syria, thus creating a new state. There was much discontent and, among the Muslims, a desire for independence within a wider Arab state. In 1926 the mandate was given a republican constitution. A treaty with France in 1936 provided for independence after a three-year transition period, but it was not ratified by France. In World War II the French Vichy government controlled Lebanon until a British–Free French force conquered (June–July, 1941) the Lebanese coast. The Free French proclaimed Lebanon an independent republic. Elections were held in 1943, and, after considerable controversy, Lebanon became independent on Jan. 1, 1944.

New Nation, New Leadership

In 1945, Lebanon became a member of the United Nations, and all British and French troops were evacuated by the end of 1946. As a member of the Arab League, Lebanon declared war on Israel in 1948 but took little part in the conflict. In 1952, after the election of Camille ChamounChamoun, Camille
, 1900–1987, Lebanese political leader. Chamoun held a variety of governmental posts before serving as president of Lebanon (1952–58). A Maronite Christian, Chamoun was opposed by Muslim leaders who disliked his pro-Western policies.
..... Click the link for more information.
 as president, Lebanon formed closer ties with the West. In the spring of 1958, opposition to Chamoun's pro-Western policies and his acceptance of U.S. aid under the Eisenhower Doctrine erupted in rioting in Tripoli, Beirut, and elsewhere. The rioting grew into full-scale rebellion, and Chamoun called in U.S. forces (July, 1958). Gen. Fouad Chehab, a nonpolitical personality who had kept the army out of the civil strife, was elected to succeed Chamoun, and the rebellion ebbed. By autumn U.S. forces had left the country.

Lebanon subsequently steered a course closer to that of the other Arab nations. The secession of Syria (1961) from the United Arab Republic revived once again the rift between pro-Western and pan-Arab elements in Lebanon. In 1962 a military coup was attempted in Beirut but was crushed. Chehab was succeeded in 1964 by Charles HélouHélou, Charles
, 1911–2001, Lebanese political leader. After working as a newspaper publisher, he was appointed (1947) Lebanon's representative to the Vatican. He served (1954–55) as minister of justice and health in the government of Camille Chamoun.
..... Click the link for more information.
; Suleiman Franjieh was elected president in 1970.

Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinians

During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Lebanon gave verbal support to the Arab effort against Israel but did not become involved in any military action. After that, however, Lebanon's position became increasingly difficult because of the activities against Israel of Palestinian terrorists based in Lebanon. Israel repeatedly accused Lebanon of not doing enough to control the terrorists, and in 1968 Israeli forces began a series of reprisals against Palestinian strongholds in Lebanon. In 1969 fighting broke out between the Lebanese army and the Palestinian commandos after the government had threatened to limit the latter's activity.

After the bloody suppression in 1970–71 of the guerrillas in Jordan, large numbers of Palestinians fled into S Lebanon and Beirut. Again in 1972 heavy fighting took place between the Lebanese army and the Palestinians. Anti-Israeli terrorist attacks continued into the 1970s, and Israel continued its attacks on Palestinian guerrilla bases in S Lebanon. Lebanon did not enter the Oct., 1973, Arab-Israeli WarArab-Israeli Wars,
conflicts in 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973–74, and 1982 between Israel and the Arab states. Tensions between Israel and the Arabs have been complicated and heightened by the political, strategic, and economic interests in the area of the great powers.
..... Click the link for more information.
, nor did the Lebanese army interfere with Palestinian guerrillas operating in S Lebanon.

Civil War

Lebanon became embroiled in civil war among the Christians, Muslims, and Palestinians from early 1975 to late 1976. At the request of Lebanon's president, Syrian forces entered Lebanon (Apr., 1976), halting Muslim and Palestinian advances. An estimated 50,000 Lebanese were killed and twice that number wounded. The country became devastated, the economy crippled, and tourism plummeted to a standstill. A cease-fire in Oct., 1976, proved unstable, and hostilities resumed full scale in 1977. In response to guerrilla attacks by the Palestine Liberation OrganizationPalestine Liberation Organization
(PLO), coordinating council for Palestinian organizations, founded (1964) by Egypt and the Arab League and initially controlled by Egypt.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (PLO), Israel occupied S Lebanon in Mar., 1978, but withdrew in June. This came with the installation of a UN peacekeeping force of 6,000, which was unable to effectively maintain control of Lebanese militia activity.

In 1981 fighting continued between Christian and Syrian forces, and Beirut was subjected to Israeli air raids in reprisal for PLO attacks. In June, 1982, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon, primarily to eliminate Palestinian guerrilla bases. Nearly 7,000 Palestinians were forced to leave Lebanon, which was accomplished under the supervision of a Multinational Force (MNF) comprised of U.S. and European-allied troops, who left immediately afterward. On Aug. 23, Bashir Gemayel (see under GemayelGemayel
, Maronite Christian family active in Lebanese politics; leaders of the Phalange party (1937–82), and later the Phalange militia. Pierre Gemayel, 1905–84, founded the right-wing Phalange movement in the early 1930s.
..... Click the link for more information.
, family) was elected president of Lebanon, but he was killed three weeks later by a bomb. In the wake of his death, Christian Phalangist forces entered the Palestinian refugee camps in Israeli-controlled areas and massacred some 1,000 civilians, provoking an international outcry.

Bashir Gemayel's brother, Amin, was elected president a few days later on Sept. 20. Another multinational force, of U.S. Marines and British, French, and Italian soldiers, returned to Lebanon to monitor the Lebanese militias. A U.S.-aided peace treaty, concluded with Amin Gemayel and Israel in May, 1983, called for the removal of foreign troops. Syria rejected the peace agreement, refusing to evacuate its holdings. As Israeli troops slowly left the Beirut and southern area, Lebanese militias fought among themselves in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal. In Apr., 1983, a terrorist bombing partially destroyed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 50 people. On Oct. 23, 260 U.S. Marines and 60 French soldiers were killed by a truck bomb.

The multinational force left Lebanon in 1984. Israel completed its withdrawal in mid-1985 but left soldiers to work in conjunction with the Christian South Lebanese Army (SLA) to maintain a security ("buffer") zone. Palestinian action gradually resumed as PLO members and units returned to S Lebanon. Beirut remained a major battle area, and in Feb., 1987, Syrian troops moved into the city to suppress the warring factions. By this time, Iranian-supported Lebanese Shiite groups had become notorious for their holding of Western hostages. When Gemayel's term ended in 1988, it proved impossible to hold national elections and find a successor. A transitional military government was led by Gen. Michel AounAoun, Michel Naïm,
1935–, Lebanese military and political leader. A graduate of Lebanon's military academy (1958), he fought in several major battles during the civil war (1975–90), rising to the rank of army general (1984).
..... Click the link for more information.
, whose aim of ousting Syrian forces from Lebanon sparked new rounds of battles and bloodshed.

A tentative peace accord was reached between Christian and Muslim representatives, but Aoun complained that the peace accord failed to pressure the Syrians to withdraw. On Nov. 22, 1989, the newly elected Syrian-backed president, René Moawad, was assassinated; he was succeeded by Elias Hrawi. Revolts by Aoun in late 1989 and 1990 were put down with the help of Syrian forces, and Aoun was ousted from the country. In Nov., 1990, major rival Shiite Muslim groups signed an agreement to end their fighting.

Post–Civil War Lebanon

In early 1991, Lebanese troops organized to regain control of the south from PLO guerrillas and Israelis who controlled a 6-mi (10-km) deep security zone. There were repeated and largely successful attempts to disband rival militias. A treaty (1991) of friendship and cooperation with Syria, which continued to have significant forces in Lebanon, essentially guaranteed Syrian domination of Lebanon's foreign relations. Meanwhile, beginning in the same year, Lebanon participated in peace talks with Israel, Syria, and a joint Palestinian–Jordanian delegation. International pressures on Lebanon eased with the release of the last U.S. and Western hostages in 1992.

By the mid-1990s, neither the Israeli nor the Syrian forces had quit the country, and clashes between Palestinian units and Israeli troops, as well as among the existing Lebanese militias, continued. Intense fighting erupted between Shiite Hezbollah (Party of God) guerrillas and Israel in S Lebanon in early 1996, as the guerrillas fired rockets into Israel and Israel retaliated with shelling and bombing. A tentative cease-fire was reached in late April; the episode generated a heavy flow of refugees from areas of S Lebanon. The many years of heavy fighting in Lebanon crippled the nation's infrastructure and economy, and devastated tourism, but a major rebuilding effort was undertaken in the 1990s.

In 1995, President Hrawi's term in office was extended by three years by a constitutional amendment. Gen. Emile Lahoud was elected president in 1998. Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas erupted again in June, 1999, following an announcement by Israel's new prime minister, Ehud BarakBarak, Ehud
, 1942–, Israeli military and political leader, prime minister of Israel (1999–2001). The son of East European immigrants in Palestine, he was born Ehud Brog, later adopting the Hebrew name Barak [lightning].
..... Click the link for more information.
, that he would withdraw Israeli troops stationed in S Lebanon within a year. In May, 2000, Israeli troops engaged in a gradual withdrawal from S Lebanon, turning over its position to its Lebanese Christian ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), but the SLA collapsed, leading Israel to accelerate its withdrawal, which was completed by late May.

The 2000 parliamentary elections brought the opposition back into power, and Rafik HaririHariri, Rafik or Rafiq
, 1944–2005, Lebanese tycoon and political leader, b. Sidon. The son of a poor Sunni Muslim farmer, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1965.
..... Click the link for more information.
 became prime minister; he had previously held the office from 1992 to 1998. President Lahoud's term was extended for three years by constitutional amendment in 2004 at the behest of Syria, which still had some 18,000 troops in Lebanon. The blatant meddling in Lebanese affairs caused a governmental crisis in Lebanon, eventually resulting in the resignation of Hariri's government and the appointment of Omar Karami as prime minister; Karami had served as prime minister from 1990 to 1992. The UN Security Council denounced foreign interference in Lebanese politics and demanded that all foreign forces leave Lebanon. Some Syrian forces were withdrawn or redeployed in the following months.

In Feb., 2005, Hariri was assassinated in a Beirut car bombing, provoking a rash of anti-Syrian demonstrations and leading to increased international pressure on Syria to withdraw, although Hezbollah rallied its supporters in defense of Syria. Syria subsequently agreed to withdraw all its troops, and did so by the end of April. The crisis also led Karami's government to resign (February), but the president subsequently asked Karami to form a new government, which he proved unable to do. In April, however, Najib Mikati, a pro-Syrian politician who was also responsive to some opposition demands, became prime minister and formed a new government.

Parliamentary elections in May–June resulted in a majority for the anti-Syrian coalition; Fouad Siniora, a former finance minister and an ally of Hariri, became prime minister. The new government moved, albeit cautiously, to reduce Syrian influence in the Lebanese security forces, and arrested several high-ranking security officials associated with the president as suspects in the assassination of Hariri. A UN investigation into the killing meanwhile implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian officials. By the end of 2005, however, a cabinet vote in favor of an international trial of the suspects in Hariri's murder provoked a split in the government, with Shiite ministers refusing to attend cabinet sessions; the boycott lasted until Feb., 2006.

The disarming of the Shiite Hezbollah militia, as demanded by the United Nations, slowed the resolution of the boycott, and the prime minister ultimately acknowledged the group as a "national resistance movement," but many in the government continued to support disarming Hezbollah. In July, 2006, Hezbollah forces captured two Israeli soldiers in fighting along the Israeli border, leading Israel to launch air attacks against targets in Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, and many other locales, place a blockade on Lebanon, and send troops into S Lebanon. Hezbollah respond largely by mounting rocket attacks against N Israel, including Haifa and Tiberias, but the its forces also offered resistance to Israeli troops, slowing their advance.

A UN-mediated cease-fire took effect in mid-August, and by the beginning of October Israel had essentially withdrawn from Lebanon and ended its blockade. As much as a fifth of the Lebanese population was displaced by the conflict, and Israeli attacks destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, a setback for the rebuilding that had occurred since the end of the civil war. Tourism and agriculture were among the sectors of the Lebanese economy most severely hurt by the fighting. Amnesty International accused both sides of war crimes in the fighting, mainly because of their attacks on civilians.

The Israeli pullout left Hezbollah in position to proclaim its resistance and survival a victory, and emboldened it to insist on a re-formation of the Lebanese government that would give it and its allies a much stronger political position. Hezbollah also continued to resist disarming, as called for by the UN Security Council, and neither were the captured Israeli soldiers released. At the same time, however, the Lebanese army was deployed, albeit not forcefully, throughout S Lebanon for the first time since the civil war; UN peacekeepers were also deployed there. Israel, for its part, continued its military overflights of Lebanon, also despite the UN Security Council.

The political stalemate over the role of Hezbollah and its allies in the government led it and Amal, the other Shiite party in the cabinet, to leave the government, giving the government an interim standing under the Ta'if accord (because Shiites were no longer represented in the cabinet). The move also stalled the government's approval of an international tribunal to prosecute Hariri's suspected killers. Hezbollah subsequently mounted demonstrations and strikes calling for the government's resignation, and their clashes between government and antigovernment partisans at times.

The situation continued unsettled and unresolved into 2007, despite talks in March. Assassinations of members of parliament, mainly those opposed to Syria, also continued, and in Dec., 2007, an army general was killed. In May–Sept., 2007, there was fierce fighting in a refugee camp near Tripoli between the Lebanese army and Palestinian guerrillas aligned with Syria; a bank robbery by the group provoked the clash. More than 200 people died in the fighting before the government took control of the camp. Also in May the United Nations approved an international tribunal to try suspects in the Hariri assassination; the tribunal first convened in Mar., 2009, but in April the four Lebanese officers who had been held since 2005 in connection with the case were released for lack of evidence. In Aug., 2010, Hezbollah asserted that it had evidence implicating Israel in the assassination; the accusation was apparently prompted by information that the tribunal had found indications that some Hezbollah members had been involved.

The political stalemate delayed the election of a successor to President Lahoud, who left office in Nov., 2007. Although the parties agreed on army chief Michel SuleimanSuleiman or Sleiman, Michel
, 1948–, Lebanese army officer, president of Lebanon (2008–14). He joined the army in 1967, graduated from Lebanon's military academy in 1970, and rose through the officer ranks.
..... Click the link for more information.
 as a presidential candidate by early 2008, disputes over the makeup of the government postponed his election by parliament until May, 2008. The May agreement that led to a new president and cabinet was negotiated in Doha, Qatar, and was finalized only after the government's attempt to ban Hezbollah's private telephone network led Hezbollah to attack its Lebanese opponents in Beirut and elsewhere. After a week of bloody fighting, the government rescinded its ban.

A new government, with Siniora as prime minister, was finally established in July, 2008; Hezbollah and its allies received enough cabinet seats to give them veto power over government decisions. In September, an agreement was signed to end sectarian fighting in Tripoli, which had sporadically continued there between Sunnis and Alawites since May. The following month, Syria formally established diplomatic relations with Lebanon for the first time; Syria's previous failure to do so had been seen as a rejection of Lebanese independence. Parliamentarly elections held in June, 2009, resulted in a victory for the pro-Western Sunni, Druze, and Maronite coalition, led by Hariri's son, Saad. Attempts to form a coalition government proved difficult. In September Saad Hariri stepped down as prime minister designate, but he was renamed to the post, and a national unity government that included Hezbollah and its allies was formed in November.

Syria's influence in the country was again evident in 2010, as Hariri traveled several times to Damascus and, in September, said that he had been wrong to blame Syria for his father's assassination. In Jan., 2011, as an indictment from the Hariri assassination tribunal prosecutors neared, Hezbollah called on Prime Minister Hariri to repudiate the tribunal, which was expected to accuse members of Hezbollah of involvement in the crime. When the prime minister refused, Hezbollah and its allies withdrew from the government, forcing negotiations to establish a new government; they supported former prime minister Mikati, who as prime minister designate sought to establish a unity government, but Hariri's coalition announced it would not join the government, which was finally formed in July. Later than month, the Hariri tribunal delivered confidential arrest warrants to the Lebanese state prosecutor; its indictment of four Hezbollah members was made public the following month, and that of a fifth member was revealed in Mar., 2012.

Lebanon was increasingly affected by the civil war in Syria as 2012 progressed. The conflict sparked sporadic violence between Lebanese Sunnis on the one hand and Alawites and Shiites on the other. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees also fled to Lebanon, with some 340,000 there by Mar., 2013. In Oct., 2012, a senior intelligence official who had led the investigation into Hariri's assassination was himself killed by a car bomb; his death provoked antigovernment protests and violence between Sunnis and Shiites. In Mar., 2013, Mikati resigned as prime minister as a result of disagreements within the coalition over a number issues. In April, Tammam Salam was asked by the president to form a new government, but Mikati's caretaker government remained in office for almost a year as Salam was not able to form a national unity cabinet until Feb., 2014.

In May, 2013, the June parliamentary elections were postponed until late 2014 due to deadlock over electoral law changes and to the effects of the Syrian civil war. By mid-2013 Hezbollah was playing an open military role in Syria in support of its government; the spillover from the Syrian civil war led to increasing sectarian violence in Lebanon. In Aug., 2014, the Lebanese army fought with Islamist militants for control of a town on the Syrian border; militants also seized control of significant territory in the mountainous region bordering Syria. Subsequently, Lebanese forces have gradually regained control of much of the region. Lebanon also experienced an enormous influx of Syrian refugees, whose numbers exceeded 1 million by Oct., 2014, when the country began restricting entry from neighboring nations.

President Suleiman's term in office ended in May, 2014, without agreement among the political parties on a successor, a situation that continued into 2016. In Nov., 2014, the parliament voted to extend its members' terms until 2017. Former general Michel Aoun was elected president in Oct., 2016, in a deal that led to Hariri's appointment as prime minister in November and the establishment of a new unity government in December. In Apr., 2017, as the parliament moved to extend its term once again, the president suspended parliament for a month and opposed the further extension of members' terms.

In Nov., 2017, Hariri was detained in Saudi Arabia and resigned as prime minister under Saudi pressure; Hariri blamed a supposed Hezbollah plot against him for his move. Hariri rescinded his resignation when he finally returned to Lebanon. Long-delayed parliamentary elections were finally held in May, 2018, and Hezbollah and parties allied with it won a majority of the seats. Talks on forming a government continued into Jan., 2019, when a new unity government, again headed by Hariri, was formed.

Poor economic conditions and proposed new taxes to help reduce Lebanon's high debt level led in Oct., 2019, to widespread, ongoing antigovernment demonstrations, with clashes between rival political groups and violence between demonstrators and security forces at time. Hariri's government resigned, and talks to form a new government, and protests, continued into 2020. In January, a new government led by Hassan Diab, a political independent and former education minister, and consisting of technocrats took office; the cabinet was regarded as dominated by Hezbollah.

The new government clashed with the central bank, and as the economic crisis worsened, Lebanon defaulted on its Eurobond debt in March and protests, often violent, recurred. In Aug., 2020, the explosion of an ammonium nitrate stockpile destroyed Beirut's port and damaged neighboring areas, killing dozens and injuring several thousand, and led to renewed demonstrations against the government, which soon resigned. Later in August, the international tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri's assassination found one Hezbollah member guilty of involvement in the car bombing; it found no evidence of the involvement of Hezbollah's leadership or Syria. After Moustapha Adib, a diplomat who sought to form a nonpartisan reformist cabinet, resigned in September, Hariri was asked (October) to form a government.


See P. Hitti, Lebanon in History (3d ed. 1967); M. Suleiman, Political Parties in Lebanon (1967); S. H. Longrigg, Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate (1958, repr. 1972); E. P. Haley and L. W. Snider, ed., Lebanon in Crisis (1979); J. C. Randal, Going All the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers, & the War in Lebanon (1983); W. Goria, Sovereignty & Leadership in Lebanon (1985); Y. Evron, War and Intervention in Lebanon (1987); T. Petran, The Struggle Over Lebanon (1987); R. Fisk, Pity the Nation (1990).


city (1990 pop. 24,800), seat of Lebanon co., SE Pa., in the Pennsylvania Dutch farm country; founded 1753, inc. as a city 1868. Its manufactures include fabricated metal products, lumber, apparel, machinery, tools, textiles, fertilizers, and processed foods. Grain, soybeans, and apples are grown, and livestock is raised. Lebanon was a flourishing town before 1790, and early 18th-century German religious groups are still represented there. The city has a historical museum, and horse shows are a local feature. Also in the area are the Cornwall Furnace (operated 1742–1883) and the Union Canal tunnel, a civil-engineering landmark.


ancient Libanus, mountain range, c.100 mi (160 km) long, paralleling the Mediterranean Sea from S Lebanon N into Syria and rising steeply from the coast. Qurnet as Sawda (10,131 ft/3,088 m) is the highest peak. A great fault line, site of the fertile Al Biqa valley, separates the Lebanon from the Anti-Lebanon Mts. to the east. The Litani River rises in the valley and flows west, through deep gorges in the Lebanon, to the Mediterranean. The mountains were famed in ancient times for the huge, old cedars that extended in a narrow strip for 85 mi (137 km) along the upper western slope of the range. However, these trees were depleted by long use as a building material and a fuel, and only 10 small isolated groves remain. Apples, olives, and apricots are grown in large orchards. Through history the Lebanon Mts. have provided refuge for persecuted minorities, such as the DruzeDruze
or Druse
, religious community of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, with important overseas branches in the Americas and Australia. The religious leadership prefers the name Muwahhidun (Unitarians).
..... Click the link for more information.
 and the MaronitesMaronites
, Lebanese Christian community, in communion with the pope. By emigration they have spread to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, South America, and the United States and now number about one million.
..... Click the link for more information.
, who settled on the fertile middle slopes. Many springs, fed by the melting snow, exit from the mountainside and make intensive irrigation possible. Clusters of villages are found on the terraced slopes. The eastern and western slopes have become summer and ski resorts.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Lebanese Republic (al-Jumhuriyya al-Lubnaniyya).

Lebanon is a state in Southwest Asia, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded by Syria on the north and east and by Israel on the southeast. Adjoining Lebanon in the south is a portion of the territory designated by the UN for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. Area, 10,400 sq km. Population, 2.96 million (1972 estimate). The capital is Beirut. Administratively, Lebanon is divided into five muhafazat (districts).

Lebanon is a republic. The present constitution went into effect on May 23, 1926, with amendments introduced in 1927, 1929, 1943, and 1947. The head of state is the president, who is elected in parliament by a two-thirds majority in secret balloting for a term of six years. In accordance with the confessional principle—that is, the distribution of the most important state offices among various religious communities in proportion to their numbers—the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunnite Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim. The president has extensive powers. He appoints and replaces the prime minister and other ministers, issues decrees having the force of law, appoints high officials, ratifies international treaties, and serves as the supreme commander in chief.

The highest legislative body is a unicameral parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, with 99 members. It is elected for four years through direct general elections according to the confessional system, under which deputies include 54 Christians (30 Maronites, 11 Orthodox, six Uniates, four Armenian Orthodox, one Armenian Catholic, one Protestant, and one representative of religious minorities) and 45 Muslims (20 Sunnites, 19 Shiites, and six Druzes). All citizens who have attained the age of 21 may vote.

The local administration in the muhafazat is headed by a governor (muhafiz) appointed by the government, and the districts (qada) are headed by district chiefs (gaim maqam). The organs of local self-government in the muhafazat are councils headed by the governors; they are formed for a period of four years and are advisory bodies under the governors.

The judicial system includes courts of the first instance, appellate courts, and the Court of Cassation, the highest judicial authority. Among Muslims, matters of personal status are resolved by sharia courts. There are also administrative courts, courts to arbitrate labor disputes, and a court concerned with matters of state security.

The coast is primarily low-lying and slightly indented with bays. There are isolated rocky capes and sand dunes. The coastal strip is a narrow plain (maximum width, 15 km) which in the east gives way to the foothills of the Lebanon Mountains. The mountains, rising to 3,083 m on Mount Qurnet el-Sauda, occupy a large part of the country. Their western, deeply dissected slope descends by stages to the Mediterranean Sea, and their eastern slope drops steeply to the floor of the intermontane Biqa Valley, a graben 8–14 km in width running from north to south through the entire country. The valley floor lies at elevations of 750–900 m, and the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains tower 1,500–2,000 m above it. Only the western slopes of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains extend into Lebanon; their highest point is Mount al-Shaykh, rising to 2,814 m. Both mountain ranges are composed primarily of limestones and sandstones and have welldeveloped karst formations. There are deposits of iron ore near Biskinta and of lignite near Tripoli.

The climate is subtropical, with dry summers and moist winters. On the coast, the average January temperature is 13°C, and the average July temperature, 28°C. At elevations of about 1,000 m, the temperatures are 6°C in January and 22°C in July. Annual precipitation on the coast totals 750–1,000 mm and occurs primarily between October and April. In the mountains the annual precipitation exceeds 1,000 mm, and the peaks are snowcovered from December through May. The Biqa Valley and the western slope of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains receive 400–800 mm of precipitation annually. In summer there is little rainfall, particularly at the foot of the mountains. Rivers are small and often dry up in the summer; their waters are used extensively for irrigating fields. The largest river, the Litani, drains the southern portion of the Biqa Valley.

Cinnamon-colored soils predominate in coastal regions and on the lower mountain slopes; the higher slopes have gray and cinnamon-colored rocky soils. Flora of the scrub variety, both maquis and phrygana (xerophytic shrub and semishrub vegetation), predominates. On the western slope of the Lebanon Mountains there are remains of forests (evergreen oak, plane tree, maple, Aleppo pine, and woody juniper), as well as small groves of cedars of Lebanon. On the eastern slope and in the Biqa Valley are remnants of mixed-grass steppes. Wild life is represented by the striped hyena, the jackal, and the Arabian gazelle, all of which have been decimated as a result of unregulated hunting. There are many rodents and birds. The government has set aside 12 tracts for the protection of natural vegetation and migrating birds.


Birot, P., and J. Dresch. Sredizemnomor’e, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from French.)
Gratsianskii, A. N. Priroda Sredizemnomor’ia. Moscow, 1971.

Arabs constitute more than 90 percent of the population, including the Lebanese and about 300,000 Palestinian refugees (1972 estimate). The rest of the population consists of Armenians (chiefly in the cities), Kurds, and small numbers of Circassians, Turks, Persians, Jews, and Europeans. The official language is Arabic, although French and English are also widely spoken. According to the 1932 census slightly more than half of the inhabitants are Christians (Maronites, Orthodox, Greek Catholics, Armenian Gregorians), and the rest are primarily Muslims (Sunnites, Shiites, and Druzes). Both the Gregorian and Muslim (lunar Hegira) calendars are used.

Between 1963 and 1971 the population growth rate averaged 2.9 percent a year. Of the total work force of 726,000 (1970), 47 percent is employed in agriculture and about 16 percent in industry. Rural overpopulation and a poorly developed industry have caused many Lebanese to emigrate to North and South America and Africa in search of work. The average population density is 276 per sq km (1971), and the maritime regions are the most densely settled, with as many as 450 persons per sq km. More than 50 percent of the population lives in cities, the largest of which are Beirut (about 700,000 inhabitants in 1971), Tripoli, Sayda, and Zahle.

To the fourth century A.D. The territory of present-day Lebanon has been settled from earliest antiquity (the Lower and Upper Paleolithic). The first permanent settlements appeared in the fifth millennium B.C. In the fourth and third millennia agriculture was well developed in the coastal regions, constituting part of the ancient country of Phoenicia. Olives, grapes, and cereals were the chief crops. Pottery, weaving, the production of stained glass, ironworking, and shipbuilding also appeared at this time. The earliest population consisted of Phoenician, Hurrite, and other tribes.

Several Phoenician city-states arose here between the fourth and second millennia, notably Byblos (modern Jubayl), Tyre (modern Sur), Sidon (modern Sayda), and Berytus (modern Beirut). Along with the labor of free artisans and farmers, slave labor became widespread. In the third millennium, a lively trade was carried on between the Phoenician cities along the Lebanese coast and Egypt. In the second millennium, commercial ties developed with Babylon and the states of the Caucasus and Asia Minor. Under the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III (ruled 1525–1473) the area entered Egypt’s sphere of political influence, which began to weaken, however, toward the end of the second millennium. The Phoenician city-states were conquered by Assyria in the eighth and seventh centuries, by Babylonia in the late seventh century, by the Persian Achaemenid state in the sixth century, and by Alexander the Great in the fourth century. In the late fourth century the region was divided between Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid state, and from the early second century to 64 B.C. it was part of the Seleucid empire. In 64 B.C. Lebanon became part of the Roman province of Syria ruled by a Roman governor.

From the fourth to the early 16th century. Lebanon was part of the Byzantine Empire from the fourth to the sixth century. The Sassanids invaded Lebanon in the early seventh century, after which Byzantine domination was briefly reestablished but did not endure. The Arab conquest, accompanied by the spread of Islam, began in the seventh century. Between the seventh and 11th centuries, Lebanon was ruled, consecutively, by the Omayyad, Abbasid, Tulunid, Ikhshidid, and Fatimid dynasties. Followers of several Christian sects who had fled from Syria, including the Maronites, settled in the Mount Lebanon region in the eighth and ninth centuries. The teachings of the Druzes, a Shiite sect, spread throughout Lebanon in the 11th century.

Lebanon was invaded by the Crusaders at the end of the 11th century. Supported by the Maronite elite, they formed several feudal principalities. After the Crusaders were driven out in the late 13th century as a result of wars of liberation, Lebanon was ruled by the Egyptian Mamelukes until the early 16th century. Feudalization was completed during this period, and feudal fragmentation was intensified by religious dissension.

From the early 16th century to independence. After defeating the Mamelukes in 1516, the Turkish sultan Selim I (ruled 1512— 20) incorporated Lebanon into the Ottoman Empire, permitting the Lebanese feudal families to retain their appanages. In the early 17th century, Emir Fakhr al-Din II of the Maan family (reigned 1590–1633, with an interruption) united all Lebanon under his authority. In 1633 he was taken prisoner by the Turkish authorities and killed. With the collapse of the Maan dynasty in 1697, the Druze sheikhs elected as the ruler of Lebanon the emir of the Shihab clan. By the mid-18th century the Shihabs had extended their rule over a large part of Lebanon. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, Emir Yusuf Shihab and the ruler of northern Palestine, Sheikh Zahir, rebelled against the Turks. In June 1772 a Russian landing force drove the Turkish garrison out of Beirut, and in 1773 a Russian squadron again supported the liberation war of the Lebanese. After the Russo-Turkish war, the Turkish government reestablished its sovereignty over Lebanon.

Commodity and money relations developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when the first manufacturing enterprises were established. Emir Bashir II Shihab, who ruled from 1788 or 1789 to 1840, pursued a policy of centralization. Determined to liberate the country from the Turks, he concluded an alliance with Muhammad Ali, the ruler of Egypt, and acknowledged himself a vassal of Egypt. Liberation from the Turks promoted the expansion of trade with Europe and the development of commercial farming, although the taxes, labor obligations, and levy of recruits introduced by the Egyptian authorities were ruinous to the Lebanese peasants and aroused their discontent. An anti-Egyptian popular uprising that lasted from May to July 1840 was suppressed by Egyptian troops. That year, another uprising and the intervention of the European powers resulted in the overthrow of Bashir II and the severance of Lebanon’s ties with Egypt.

During the period of reforms in the Ottoman Empire known as the Tanzimat (1839 to the early 1870’s), reforms were introduced in Lebanon as well. In 1841, 1845, and 1860 armed conflict broke out between Druzes and Maronites, exacerbated by Anglo-French interference. The Turkish government took advantage of the Druze-Maronite bloodbath of 1841 to reestablish direct control over Lebanon. It was granted a measure of autonomy, however, as a result of the population’s opposition and the intervention of European powers concerned with undermining Turkey’s position in the country. Lebanon was divided into a Druze and a Maronite province, each headed by a qaim maqam from among the local aristocracy. The partition intensified the tyranny of feudal lords, giving impetus to the antifeudal movement. In 1859 a peasant rebellion under the leadership of Shahin Taniyus broke out in Kisrawan. On the pretext of protecting the Christian population during the Druze-Maronite conflict of 1860, France occupied Lebanon in August 1860, but the following year was forced to withdraw its forces in the face of pressure by other European powers, chiefly Great Britain, and Turkey. In June 1861 an international commission of representatives of France, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire drew up the Organic Regulation for Lebanon (from that time the country was officially called Lebanon). The regulation abolished the partition of the country into two provinces and proclaimed a unified, autonomous Lebanon administered by a Christian governor appointed by the Turkish government with the approval of the signatories. It abolished the privileges of the Lebanese feudal lords (although they retained their land holdings), proclaimed the equality of citizens before the law, and introduced reforms into the administrative and tax-gathering systems. The stationing of Turkish troops in Lebanon was prohibited. The regulation promoted domestic political activity, but it also strengthened foreign intervention.

Between the late 1850’s and the 1870’s, Lebanon became an Arab center of learning. Butrus al-Bustani and Nasif al-Yaziji, leaders of the intellectual revival, laid the foundations for a modern Arabic literature and journalism. In 1875 a secret political group dedicated to liberating Lebanon and other Arab countries from Turkish oppression was formed among the intelligentsia.

In the early 20th century, Lebanon, along with the rest of the Ottoman Empire, became a semicolony of the Western European powers. France’s economic and political influence, in particular, was reinforced. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution of 1905–07 and the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, nationalist groups became active in Lebanon, and in 1912 the Reform League was founded. Beirut became a center of the Arab national-liberation movement. During World War I (1914–18), Turkey abolished Lebanon’s autonomous status, imposed levies of recruits, and introduced compulsory labor.

In October 1918, Anglo-French forces occupied Lebanon, and it was administered by a French high commissioner. On Sept. 1, 1920, the French authorities proclaimed the creation of the state of Greater Lebanon under a French mandate. In 1922 the French mandate was confirmed by the League of Nations, and in May 1926 a constitution was promulgated proclaiming Lebanon a republic. France continued to control Lebanon’s foreign relations and defense. The economy was subordinated to the interests of French monopoly capital.

The Lebanese people resisted the French colonialists. In 1924 a large peasant uprising broke out in the Biqa Valley. In 1924, Lebanese and Syrian communists founded the Syrian Communist Party. Between 1925 and 1927 the Lebanese supported the anti-imperialist rebellion in Syria. In the autumn of 1925 and the summer of 1926 Lebanese rebels fought French troops in the Biqa Valley. In 1932, Lebanon was engulfed by a mass movement to boycott foreign concessions and monopolies; in 1933 there were large strikes of public transportation workers and printers. In 1934 united front committees were formed on the initiative of the communists.

Under pressure of the national-liberation movement, the French Popular Front government concluded a treaty with the Lebanese government in November 1936 granting Lebanon independence within three years but keeping French armed forces on Lebanese territory and retaining France’s right to intervene in domestic policy and foreign affairs. However, after the Daladier government came to power in April 1938, French reactionary forces prevented ratification of the treaty.

At the outbreak of World War II (1939–45) martial law was proclaimed in Lebanon, the parliament dissolved, and the Communist Party banned. After France’s surrender in June 1940, Lebanon came under the control of the Italian-German armistice commission. The Axis powers used Lebanese territory to prepare the operations of their armed forces in the Middle East. Foodstuffs were exported to the fascist bloc. Great Britain declared a blockade of Syria and Lebanon, which deepened the economic crisis in the country.

On June 8,1941, Free French and British forces entered Syria and Lebanon. Acceding to the demands of the Lebanese liberation movement, the French commander in chief, General Catroux, announced a French declaration granting independence to Lebanon on Nov. 26, 1941.

Independence. On Nov. 8, 1943, the Lebanese parliament excised from the country’s constitution those articles that limited the country’s sovereignty in favor of the mandate power. The French authorities in turn arrested President Bishara al-Khuri, who came into power in September 1943, and Prime Minister Riyad al-Solh. The French dissolved the parliament and declared the constitution no longer in effect, but on Nov. 22, 1943, under pressure from the mass popular movement, they restored the legal government. This day has become a national holiday, Independence Day.

After the achievement of independence, the Lebanese government, which consisted of representatives of the bourgeois comprador and landlord strata, carried out measures aimed at strengthening Lebanon’s international position. In August 1944 diplomatic relations were established between the USSR and Lebanon. In February 1945 the parliament confirmed Lebanon’s declaration of war on Germany and Japan. In March 1945, Lebanon took part in the establishment of the League of Arab States, and that year it became a member of the UN.

French imperialists attempted to maintain the military occupation of Lebanon even after the war. In May 1945 a supplementary contingent of French troops arrived in Lebanon; the French general delegate (prior to June 1941, the high commissioner) demanded that Lebanon sign a treaty ensuring France’s strategic and economic position in the country. The Lebanese government refused to negotiate with France on this basis. A resistance movement against the occupying forces began, and mass strikes and demonstrations were held. The Soviet Union actively supported the struggle of the Lebanese people. In December 1945 an Anglo-French agreement was concluded, under which the occupation troops were to remain in Lebanon for an indefinite period. The conflict was reviewed by the Security Council, where Lebanon was supported by the Soviet Union, Poland, and Egypt. Great Britain and France were obliged to begin evacuating troops from Lebanese territory (completed Dec. 31, 1946).

The achievement of independence promoted the development of the national economy. Large enterprises and banks belonging to national capitalists were established. The government nationalized with compensation a number of foreign enterprises of public importance and began encouraging the investment of national capital in the country’s economy. A number of projects aimed at exploiting the country’s natural resources were undertaken. Large-scale landownership in agriculture continued to predominate. In several regions, about a fourth of the cultivated land remained in the hands of the church. About 75 percent of the country’s peasants owned no land and worked as sharecroppers or leaseholders. Foreign monopolies continued to dominate the economy, and the USA’s influence in Lebanon grew stronger. In 1948 the Lebanese government concluded an agreement with the USA on the construction of an American oil pipeline across Lebanese territory, and between 1951 and 1961, Lebanon received “aid” under Point Four of the Truman Program.

The policies of the comprador and landlord bloc supported by the imperialists provoked the resistance of democratic forces. The working people called for improved living conditions and for a democratic domestic and a national foreign policy. The outlawed Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) was active in this struggle. The LCP had become an independent party in 1944 in accordance with the resolution of the Second Congress of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) on dividing the SCP into the SCP and the LCP. (In 1948 the LCP was reunited with the SCP to form the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon, and in 1958 it again became independent.) Through the efforts of the national Federation of Trade Unions of Industrial and Office Workers of Lebanon, founded in 1943, a labor law was promulgated in September 1946 establishing an eight-hour day and paid leaves for workers in industrial enterprises. In 1951, under pressure of the popular movement, the Lebanese government declined a proposal by the imperialist powers that Lebanon participate in military alliances.

The exacerbation of social contradictions, the intrigues of the reactionary forces and imperialist powers, and the power struggle among the country’s ruling circles resulted in chronically unstable governments (the government changed more than 40 times between 1943 and 1973). In 1948–49 Lebanon took part in the Arab-Israeli war, and along with other Arab states signed an armistice with Israel on Mar. 23, 1949. As a result of the war a large number of Palestinian refugees fled to Lebanon.

The discontent of the masses with government policies, with the difficult economic situation, and with the corruption of the state bureaucracy strengthened the popular democratic movement. Opposition to President Bishara al-Khuri formed in the Lebanese parliament. After a general strike in Beirut and other cities on Sept. 14, 1952, Bishara al-Khuri was obliged to resign. The new president, Camille Chamoun, despite his preelection promises, pursued a policy of rapprochement with the Western powers and encouraged foreign investment. At the same time, the government of Lebanon, headed by Prime Minister R. Karami, nationalized in 1955–56 a number of foreign companies with concessions to provide municipal services and obtained larger payments from the Iraq Petroleum Company for the transport of oil across Lebanese territory.

Chamoun’s pro-imperialist position was clearly manifested during the Anglo-Franco-Israeli aggression against Egypt. The demands of the popular masses to give Egypt effective aid and to break relations with the countries participating in the aggression were not fulfilled. In March 1957, Lebanon agreed to adhere to the Eisenhower Doctrine, increasing the discontent in the country. In early 1958 the United National Front was established, advocating a national domestic and foreign policy.

A general political strike broke out in May 1958. Its immediate causes were the murder of the Lebanese journalist N. Metni, who had opposed the pro-imperialist course of the Chamoun government, and Chamoun’s intentions to modify the constitution in order to retain the presidency for a second term. The strike grew into an armed uprising in northern Lebanon. Chamoun requested the US government to send American troops to Lebanon. The American intervention in Lebanon in 1958 did not save the Chamoun regime, and he was forced to resign. In September 1958, General Fuad Shihab was elected president, occupying the office until September 1964 (from September 1964 to September 1970, Charles Helou was president). The new government was headed by R. Karami. The Karami government declared that Lebanon did not consider itself bound by the Eisenhower Doctrine and would adhere to a policy of neutrality and nonalignment. It took measures to strengthen the national economy and implemented various social reforms, such as the social security law of 1965 providing for the payment of sickness benefits and medical care at a reduced rate for trade union members.

The government of Lebanon expressed its complete solidarity with Egypt and other Arab countries that were the victims of Israeli aggression in June 1967. Lebanon supported the UN Security Council’s resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, on a political settlement of the Middle East crisis. Organizations of the Palestinian resistance movement have been operating on Lebanese soil since 1968. Lebanon has been subjected to numerous aggressive actions by Israel since 1968, resulting in great damage to the country, particularly in the south. The situation has been complicated by uncertain relations between the official Lebanese establishment and the organizations of the Palestinian resistance movement and by the conflict between those supporting a pro-Western orientation and the country’s withdrawal from a pan-Arab course (the National Liberal Party and other groups) and the national patriotic forces advocating closer cooperation with progressive Arab countries and the socialist states (the LCP, the Progressive Socialist Party headed by K. Jumblatt, and other groups).

A protracted government crisis occurred in 1969: between April 23 and November 25, Lebanon was without a government. On Nov. 25, 1969, Karami again formed a government, which included representatives of the main bourgeois groups. In 1970 the Lebanese government legalized the LCP and other outlawed political parties. On Aug. 17, 1970, the parliament elected S. Franjieh president of the republic (he held the post until 1976), and Saab Salam became head of government. The new government declared its intention to pursue a policy of positive neutrality and promised to strengthen the national economy and raise the standard of living of the working people. Its inconsistency in carrying out these policies and its attempts to infringe upon democratic rights and liberties caused widespread discontent; strikes and demonstrations broke out in late 1972 and early 1973.

Lebanon’s situation was complicated by continuing pressure from Israel, whose government was attempting to force Lebanon to renounce its support of the victims of Israeli aggression. While declaring support for the Palestinian resistance movement, the command of the Lebanese army in practice opposed the Palestinians. The Lebanese army’s military actions against the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon aroused indignation throughout the Arab world and among the broad masses of the Lebanese population. S. Salam’s government was forced to resign in April 1973. The subsequent governments also failed to bring about a relaxation of the internal political crisis. As a result of the subversive operations of right-wing extremists and imperialist agents and the intrigues of Israel, armed conflicts broke out in Lebanon in April 1975. These conflicts have developed into a civil war that has caused great material and economic damage to the country and entailed heavy loss of life.

In June 1970 an agreement on cooperation in tourism was signed by Lebanon and the USSR, and in July of that year the two countries concluded an agreement on trade and payments.


Petkovich, K. D. Livan i livantsy. St. Petersburg, 1885.
Bazili, K. M. Siriia i Palestina pod turetskim pravitel’stvom. Moscow, 1962.
Lutskii, V. B. Novaia istoriia arabskikh stran, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Sovremennyi Livan (reference). Moscow, 1963.
Smilianskaia, I. M. Krest’ianskoe dvizhenie v Livane v pervoi polovine XIX v. Moscow, 1965.
Noveishaia istoriia arabskikh stran (1917–1966). Moscow, 1968. Pages 45–56, 94–112.
Salibi, K. S. Ocherki po istorii Livana. Moscow, 1969. (Translated from English.)
Tanus ibn Yusuf al-Shidyaq. Kitab Akhbar al-Ayan fi Jabal Lubnan. (News of Notable People of the Lebanese Mountains.) Beirut, 1954.
Majzub, M. Tragediia demokratii i arabskogo natsionalizma v Livane. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from Arabic.)
Ismail, Adel. Histoire du Liban du XVII siècle à nos jours, vols. 1–4. Paris-Beirut, 1955–58.


Political parties. The Lebanese Communist Party (LCP, Hizb al-Shuyui al-Lubnani) became an independent party in 1944 (Lebanese Communists belonged to the Syrian Communist Party from 1924 to 1944 and to the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon between 1948 and 1958). The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP, Hizb al-Taqaddumi al-Ishtiraki), founded in 1949, unites the petite bourgeoisie, the Druze peasants in Mount Lebanon Province, and a segment of the Lebanese intelligentsia. The National Bloc Party (Al-Kutla al-Wataniyya), founded in 1943, draws its support from the big financial and commercial bourgeoisie, the landlords, and the Maronite clergy. The Lebanese Phalangist Party (Kataib, Hizb al-Kataib al-Lubnaniyya), founded in 1936 as a militarized youth organization, has been functioning as a party since 1943. It is an extreme right-wing petit bourgeois Christian party. The Constitutional Bloc (Hizb al-Dustur), founded in 1934, is a Christian bourgeois-landlord party supported by the big financial and commercial bourgeoisie, the landlords, and the Maronite clergy. The National Liberal Party (Hizb al-Wataniyyin al-Ahrar), founded in 1958, reflects the interests of the reactionary Maronite bourgeoisie, the landlords, and the clergy. There are several groups affiliated with the Arab Renaissance Socialist Party (ARSP), or Baath Party. Other Arab and Armenian parties include the Arab Social National Party, the Armenian bourgeois nationalist Dashnaktsutiun Party, and the petit bourgeois Social Democratic parties Hunchak and Ramgavar.

Trade unions and other social organizations. The General Labor Confederation of Lebanon, founded in 1970, includes the National Federation of Trade Unions of Workers and Employees of Lebanon (a member of the World Federation of Trade Unions) and the Federation of United Trade Unions (affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions). Other important organizations are the Union of Democratic Youth (founded in 1970), the Lebanese League for Women’s Rights (founded in 1947), the Lebanese Committee of Supporters of Peace (founded in 1949), the Lebanese-Soviet Friendship Society, and the Lebanese Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee.


General characteristics. Lebanon has a poorly developed agriculture and industry and a fairly well developed financial and banking system and service sphere. In 1970 industry and handicrafts accounted for 16 percent of the gross national product; agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry, for 9.0 percent; and services and trade, for 62 percent. The relatively large role of the service sphere results from the country’s advantageous geographic position. The area’s importance for transit shipment has made Lebanon a center of international trade, financial, and other (chiefly intermediary) business operations. In 1970 the per capita gross national product totaled L£1,700. Foreign capital, primarily Arab and Western European, is important in the economy, and the state sector is relatively small. The state controls the production of electric power, the water supply, the infrastructure (including railroads), and tobacco enterprises.

Industry. In 1971 the total industrial output was valued at L£2 billion. That year machine building accounted for 7 percent of industrial production; the textile and food industries, for 44 percent; the woodworking industry, for 29 percent; and the chemical, building-materials, and pharmaceutical industries, for 20 percent. The more than 7,000 industrial and handicraft enter prises (1970) employed more than 50,000 persons, of whom two-fifths worked in the food industry. The majority of enterprises are small factories employing fewer than ten workers; only 50 enterprises have 100 or more workers. The mining industry is represented by a few small enterprises. Iron ore is mined in the Biskinta region (50,000–100,000 tons per year), and lignite and asphalt are extracted near Tripoli. In 1971 electric power output totaled 1,375,000,000 kilowatt-hours, 70 percent of which was produced by hydroelectric power plants.

Most oil refineries are owned by foreign capital: the oil-refining plant in Tripoli and the pipeline supplying it with oil from Iraq belong to Iraq Petroleum, an Anglo-Dutch-American-French company. The plant in Sayda and the pipeline from Saudi Arabia are owned by the American company Tapline. Together the refineries produce about 2 million tons of oil annually. The cement industry is developing, its output of 1.6 million tons (1972) supplying both domestic and foreign markets—Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There are metallurgical, metalworking, and chemical enterprises. The oldest industry, textiles, employs more than 12,000 persons; the largest enterprise is the cotton combine near Beirut. The food industry is represented by sugar refineries in Tripoli and the Biqa Valley.

Agriculture. The agrarian system includes both large-scale landownership and minute landholdings. About three-fourths of the rural population is landless and rents from large landowners. Sharecropping is the main form of land tenancy. More than half the cultivated land is owned by 300 large landlords, and 15 percent belongs to small landlords and prosperous peasants. Agricultural land covers 39 percent of the country’s total area (1970); 97 percent of the farmland is occupied by crops, orchards, and vineyards and 3 percent by pasture. Irrigated land totals 68,000 hectares (1968).

The main cereal crops are wheat and barley, raised primarily in the Biqa Valley and on the interior mountain slopes. Such legumes as vetches, lentils, and chickpeas are also cultivated in these regions. Lebanon produces only a third of its domestic consumption of foodstuffs. As much as two-fifths of the entire income from agriculture is provided by fruit growing (apples, citrus fruits, olives, and bananas) and viticulture. Vineyards are found chiefly in the Biqa Valley, where valuable varieties of apples are also cultivated. On the Mediterranean coast there are citrus orchards and olive groves. Most of the apple, citrus, and banana harvest is exported. Sugar beets (120,000 tons in 1970–71) are grown in the southern regions, and tobacco, the most important industrial crop, is raised in the southern foothills.

The lack of mountain pasture hinders cattle raising; in 1970–71 cattle numbered 84,000 head. The raising of goats (318,000 head in 1970–71), sheep (only in the north; 218,000 head), and poultry (17.8 million) is well developed. The annual fish catch of anchovies, sardines, and bluefin tuna totals 2,200 tons.

Transportation. Motor vehicles are the chief means of transportation. The country has 7,700 km of highways (1970), of which about 6,000 km have asphalt or gravel surfaces. There are more than 163,000 motor vehicles (1970). The main arteries are the Beirut-Damascus (Syria), Beirut-Tripoli, and Tripoli-Homs (Syria) highways. There are 408 km of railroads (1970). The Abqaiq (Saudi Arabia)-Sayda and Kirkuk (Iraq)-Tripoli oil pipelines cross Lebanon. Beirut is a major international seaport, with a freight turnover of 4.8 million tons in 1971. Many airlines pass through Beirut’s airport en route to the east. Tripoli is also a major seaport. In 1966–67, Lebanon began direct flights to the USSR and other socialist countries.

Foreign trade. Imports, valued at L£2.23 billion in 1970, substantially exceed exports, totaling L£640 million in 1970. The trade deficit is covered chiefly through the income derived from transportation and banking operations, tariffs, tourism, the transfer of foreign currency by Lebanese living abroad, the gold trade, and revenues from oil companies and airlines. The principal exports are citrus fruits, apples, wool, cotton thread, hides, cement, and metal products, and the main imports are machinery and equipment, metalware, timber, foodstuffs (including grain), and cattle. About 50 percent of the country’s imports (1969) come from Western Europe, which accounts for about 16 percent of Lebanon’s exports. The Arab countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, absorb about 60 percent of all exports. The share of the USSR and other socialist countries in Lebanon’s foreign trade is increasing, reaching 11.1 percent in 1969. Lebanon imports machinery and equipment, ferrous metals and rolled metal products, chemical products, and lumber from the USSR and exports to it oranges, apples, tobacco, wool, and hides. The monetary unit is the Lebanese pound (L£). According to the exchange rate of the State Bank of the USSR, L£100 equaled 28 rubles 7 kopecks in October 1973.

Of the 2.3 million tourists visiting Lebanon in 1971, 600,000 were from Syria and Jordan. The main tourist attractions are the ruins of the ancient cities of Byblos and Baalbek and the historic sites in Nahr al-Kalb Valley and Sur.


Pobedina, M. P., V. P. Smirnov, and V. V. Tsybul’skii. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia stran Blizhnego i Srednego Vostoka. Moscow, 1969.
Seregin, N. I., and S. N. Petrov. Livan. Moscow, 1969.


The armed forces of Lebanon consist of a ground force, an air force, and a navy. The supreme commander in chief is the president. The minister of defense and the general staff direct the troops. The army is made of volunteers. In 1973 the armed forces numbered about 16,000 men, of whom 13,500 were in the ground force, about 2,000 in the air force, and about 300 in the navy.

According to official data, the birth rate was 27.0 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1970; the mortality rate, 3.9 per 1,000 inhabitants; and the infant mortality rate 13.6 per 1,000 live births. Infectious and parasitic diseases predominate. Intestinal diseases, tuberculosis, trachoma, and helminthiases (ascariasis, trichinellosis, hymenolepiasis, infestation with Taeniarhynchus, and trichocephaliasis) are prevalent. The most dangerous foci of an-cylostomiasis are in the coastal agricultural regions north and south of Beirut. Urogenital schistosomiasis has been recorded in the south since 1961, and endemic laryngopharyngitis, locally known as halzoun, is encountered. Since 1951, efforts have been made to combat malaria, once the main public health problem; the incidence has declined from 20,000 cases a year in the 1950’s to 102 cases in 1963. Among noninfectious diseases, endemic goiter is widespread in the mountain regions and along the coast.

In 1969 there were 150 hospitals, mostly private, with 10,800 beds (four per 1,000 inhabitants). Outpatient care is provided by

Table 1. Area and yield of principal crops
 Sown area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1Yearly average 21970
Source: FAO UN, vol. 25, 1971
Wheat ……70,00068,00060,00051,00064,00050,000
Barley ……20,00013,00010,00025,00013,00010,000
Citrus fruit….69,000219,000265,000
Grapes …..21,00023,00017.000281,00090,00080.0002
Apples ……14,00096,000100,000
Tobacco …..2,0005,0007,0001,6004,8007,300

ambulatory divisions of hospitals, maternity health centers, and private general practitioners. Of the country’s 1,900 doctors (one per 1,200 inhabitants), 1,020 practiced in Beirut. Thus, whereas Beirut had one doctor for every 585 inhabitants, one doctor served 5,600 persons in the south and 6,400 persons in the north. There were 531 dentists, 612 pharmacists, and about 3,000 intermediate medical personnel. Doctors are trained at the medical school of the faculty of medical sciences of the American University and at the faculty of medicine of the Université Saint Joseph in Beirut; the schools graduate about 50 annually. There are also eight nursing schools and a school of public health. Expenditures for public health amounted to about 4 percent of the national budget in 1973.


Veterinary services. The lack of planned antiepizootic measures, inadequate veterinary supervision over the slaughter of animals and livestock products, and poor diagnostic facilities contribute to the spread of infectious and parasitic diseases among animals. In 1972 there were 98 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, 22 of cattle plague, five of malignant anthrax, and seven of sheep pox. The warm, moist climate of the coast, where most of the livestock is raised, promotes the spread of helminthiases; insufficiency diseases have also been recorded here. Veterinarians are trained at the American University in Beirut. In 1972 there were 33 veterinarians in the country.


Appropriations for the development of public education and the training of native specialists have increased annually since independence, accounting for 17 percent of the budget in 1973. Free elementary education in public schools was instituted in 1960. Although the number of public schools increased fourfold between 1946 and 1970, more than half the schools in the country are private, and of these 20 percent are foreign. Religion is a required subject. The educational system includes five-year elementary schools, four-year lower secondary schools (sometimes considered upper-level elementary schools, or preparatory schools), and three-year higher secondary schools. In 1969–70 there were 196,300 students in 798 public elementary schools and 360,000 students in 1,016 private elementary schools; 66,500 students were enrolled in 492 state secondary schools and 79,300 students attended 478 private secondary schools.

Vocational, chiefly technical, schools offering a three-year course of study were founded after independence. In 1969–70, 2,200 students were enrolled in vocational schools and 3,000 students in pedagogical schools.

Higher education is provided by four universities (all in Beirut), of which only the Lebanese University, opened in 1953, is a national higher educational institution. The others were founded and continue to be financed by the USA, France, and Egypt. The Lebanese University has faculties of natural sciences, literature and the humanities, law and political science, pedagogy, and administration. The American University, founded in 1866, is the largest US higher educational institution in the Middle East, with faculties of arts and sciences, medical sciences, engineering, and agriculture. The French Université Saint Joseph, founded in 1881, is supported by the Jesuit order; it has faculties of theology, medicine, law, and economics. The Arab University, a branch of the University of Alexandria (Egypt), has faculties of fine arts, law, and business. In 1971–72 about 40,000 students (some from other Arab countries) were enrolled in higher educational institutions. Technical specialists are primarily trained abroad. In 1970, of the more than 7,000 Lebanese studying in higher educational institutions abroad, more than 300 were in higher schools in the USSR.

The largest libraries and museums are in Beirut, notably the National Library of Lebanon (founded in 1921; 100,000 volumes, 2,500 manuscripts), the Library of the American University (founded in 1866; 340,000 volumes, 1,700 manuscripts), the Oriental Library of the Université Saint Joseph (founded in 1881; 150,000 volumes, 2,800 manuscripts), the National Museum of Lebanon (founded in 1920), the Museum of Fine Arts, and the American University Museum.


Natural and technical sciences. Research in the natural and technical sciences, long hampered by the lack of native personnel, has been developing since the late 1950’s. The American and Lebanese universities and the Université Saint Joseph have become the main centers of scientific work, attracting both Lebanese and foreigners. The research programs of the American University and the Université Saint Joseph are financed by state and private organizations in the USA and France. Scientific work, coordinated by the National Council for Scientific Research (founded 1962), emphasizes applied problems, including hydraulic-engineering and irrigation projects (S. Lahud) and land improvement (J. Debban). Important research has also been done on reforestation and the stabilization of shifting sands (M. Basbu). Problems of general chemistry are being studied by N. Salhab and of organic chemistry by S. Tabet and M. Haddadin. Research in mathematics is conducted at the Center for Mathematics and Physics (founded in 1945 as a branch of the University of Lyon). Problems of astronomy, terrestrial magnetism, meteorology, and climatology are studied at the Ksara Observatory, and geographic research is pursued at the Institute of Geography of the Near and Middle East (founded in 1946). Lebanese medical scientists are doing extensive work in pharmacology (F. Stefan), parasitology and tropical hygiene (J. Shahir), endocrinology (E. Laham), surgery (B. Saada), and diagnostics (K. Abu Faysal).


Social sciences. Lebanon’s medieval culture, including philosophy and history, developed within the mainstream of Arabic culture. Closer contacts with Western, particularly French, cultural centers (resulting from the presence of large numbers of Christians) made Lebanon one of the main centers of the mid-19th century intellectual awakening in the Arab East (Butrus al-Bustani, Nasif al-Yaziji). The intellectual revival showed an anticlerical tendency. In the late 19th century and the early 20th the most consistent proponent of materialist and atheist ideas was Shibli Shmayyil, a Lebanese living in Egypt. Shibli Shmayyil was influenced by C. Darwin, H. Spencer, and L. Büchner. The Arab publicist Amin al-Rihani, who held pantheistic philosophical views, criticized religious intolerance, the feudal order, and colonialism and greatly influenced Lebanese historiography. The ideals of freedom and equality were defended by Farah Antun. Following the doctrine of double truth propounded by ibn Rushd, he advocated the separation of the religious and secular spheres. The movement for Islamic reform also grew.

In 20th-century Lebanese bourgeois philosophy the tendency toward liberation from the traditional religious outlook yielded to efforts to reconcile science and faith and even to subordinate the former to the latter. Not only did such philosophers as Kamal Yusuf al-Hajj, the theoretician of Lebanese nationalism, begin to embrace fideistic ideas, but political figures such as Antun Saada and Charles Malik openly used these ideas to oppose Marxism-Leninism. Many contemporary bourgeois intellectuals adhere to the latest conceptions of Western European idealist philosophy, especially existentialism (René Habashi). Philosophical idealism, social reformism, and ethical and “national” socialism have been attacked by scholars and public figures who uphold dialectical and historical materialism (George Hanna, Husayn Muruwah, and a number of other writers associated with the progressive sociopolitical journal al-Tariq).

The political history of medieval Lebanon was described in the chronicles of Yuhanna al-Rahib al-Maruni, Salih ibn Yahya, Hamza Ahmad ibn Sibat al-Gharbi, and ibn al-Qilai. Istifan al-Duwayhi’s chronicles dealt specifically with the history of the Maronites. The works of Niqula al-Turk, Haydar Ahmad Shihab, Mikhail al-Dimashqi, and Yusuf al-Dibs contain material on the history of Lebanon in the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern era. The first Lebanese historian to write the history of Lebanon as a country, from the seventh-century Arab conquest to the mid-19th century, was Tannus ibn Yusuf al-Shidyaq. Druze-Maronite relations and the antifeudal peasant movement of the mid-19th century were treated in the works of Antun Dahir al-Aqiqi, Mansur al-Hattuni, and Hussein Abu Shaqr. In the early 20th century, Farid al-Khazin published a three-volume collection of diplomatic documents on the policies of the Western European powers in Syria and Lebanon.

Modern national historical science developed in Lebanon in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Yusuf Ibrahim Yazbak, Asad Rustam, and Fuad al-Bustani published a number of historical works by 18th- and 19th-century Lebanese authors. Studies on the modern and contemporary history of Lebanon were published by Lewis Bulaybul, Asad Rustam, and Ibrahim Awwad. Historical science developed further after Lebanon’s emancipation from colonial dependence. Source material was published, including documents from state and family archives, and general works on Lebanon’s modern and contemporary history appeared (Adel Ismail, Kamal Suleiman Salibi, Michel Shibli). Many works were devoted to the national-liberation movement, international relations in the Arab East, and the working class and peasantry. Foundations were laid for a new, Marxist historiography, and the journal al-Tariq began to publish works by Marxist historians, including Fuad Kazan and Yusuf Hattar Helou.

Since the 1950’s works have been published on Lebanese historiography, such as Salibi’s study of medieval Maronite historians. Archaeological investigations are under way, and ethnology is developing (Anis Frayha and Bishara Shamali).

The main centers for the study of philosophy and the historical disciplines are the American University and Lebanese University. Theology is taught at the Université Saint Joseph and the Near East School of Theology. The French Archaeological Institute, founded in 1946, publishes Syria (since 1920), Bibliothèque archéologique et historique (since 1921), and Revue d’art et d’archéologie. The Department of Antiquities publishes the Bulletin jointly with the National Museum of Lebanon (since 1937).

The first economics publications, primarily dealing with statistics, appeared in the late 19th century. The compilation of land and water surveys by the French in the 1920’s and 1930’s stimulated economic research. The study of economics developed after Lebanon gained independence. In the 1950’s works on the economic infrastructure were published in connection with a number of major projects, such as the Litani irrigation project. Studies have also been published on the development of the service sphere, finance, and foreign trade. The French economic school dominated research, largely as a result of the work of the French economic mission in Lebanon, IRFED, which compiled and analyzed data for long-term planning.

In the 1960’s, economic research concentrated on industry, agriculture (especially problems of increased efficiency), and foreign tourism. French and American bourgeois economic theories were widely disseminated. The majority of contemporary Lebanese bourgeois economists are partisans of the “free economy” and support the development of the service sphere, expansion of the country’s role as an economic go-between, and stronger ties with foreign capital (E. Saba, S. Himadeh). There are economists, however, who advocate greater state participation in economic development, the creation of a state sector in industry, and planned economic development (Y. Sayigh, M. Atallah, M. Nusuli, S. Klat). Economic thought oriented toward revolutionary democracy has been developing in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Articles by economists of this tendency are published in the journal al-Tariq. Yusuf Hattar Helou is an exponent of Marxist economics.

Since the early 1960’s leading Lebanese economists have been concentrating on problems of the further development of the country’s economy, particularly in industry. A six-year plan covering the period 1972–77 was worked out. Economic research is conducted by the economics department of the faculty of arts and sciences and the Institute of Economic Research of the American University in Beirut, the faculty of law and economics and the Institute of Applied Economic Research of the Université Saint Joseph, and the business faculty of the Arab University.

The most important publications are al-Iqtisad al-Lubnani wa al-Arabi (The Economy of Lebanon and the Arab Countries, a biweekly published since 1951), Le Commerce du Levant (since 1929, published twice a week with a monthly supplement), The Arab Economist (founded in 1969), Bulletin statistique trimestriel (founded in 1950, since 1960 published as Bulletin statistique mensuel), al-Mudiriyya al-amma li al-jamarik (Customs Journal, since 1954), and A lam al-tijara (Trade World, a bimonthly published since 1965).

A. V. SAGADEEV (philosophy), K. PETROV (historical science), A. K. SOLOV’EV (economics)

More than 100 newspapers and magazines were published in Arabic, French, English, and Armenian in 1975. The main newspapers published in Arabic are al-Amal (founded in 1939, circulation 12,000, organ of the Kataib Party), al-Anwar (founded in 1959, circulation over 50,000), al-Jarida (founded in 1953, circulation 7,000–8,000), al-Muharrir (founded in 1951, circulation 7,000–8,000), al-Hayat (founded in 1946, circulation 18,000), al-Anba (founded in 1953, circulation 5,000, organ of the Progressive Socialist Party), al-Nahar (founded in 1933, circulation 70,000), al-Nida (founded in 1959, circulation 8,000, expresses the views of the Lebanese Communists), al-Bairaq (founded in 1912, circulation 15,000–16,000, close to the National Bloc), al-Liwa (circulation 10,000), al-Hurriyya (founded in 1960, circulation 10,000), al-Akhbar (founded in 1953, circulation 5,000, expresses the views of the progressive forces), and al-Safir (founded in 1974, circulation 40,000–50,000, expresses the views of the progressive forces). The leading English-language newspaper, The Daily Star, was founded in 1952 and has a circulation of about 2,000). The French-language L’Orient-Le Jour was founded in 1971 through a merger of Le Jour (founded in 1936) and L’Orient (founded in 1924) and has a circulation of 24,000. Another major French-language newspaper is Le Soir (founded in 1947, circulation 6,000–7,000).

The principal magazines issued in Arabic are al-Jumhur al-Jadid (founded in 1937, 30,000 copies), al-Usbu al-Arabi (founded in 1959, 11,500 copies), al-Hawadith (founded in 1911, 71,000 copies), al-Sayad (founded in 1943, 20,000–25,000 copies), al-Balagh (founded in 1972), and al-Tariq (founded in 1941, 2,000 copies, organ of the Lebanese Committee of Supporters of Peace).

A national news agency was established in Beirut in 1962. There are two radio stations, both in Beirut, broadcasting in Arabic, French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The country’s two television companies, also in Beirut, are owned by mixed companies, with foreign capital predominating. Programs are televised in Arabic and French over six channels.


As in Egypt, Syria, and other Arab countries, advanced ideas spread in Lebanon in the 19th century and a movement for an Arabic cultural revival arose. The leaders of the movement were the educator Nasif al-Yaziji (1800–71), the champion of women’s emancipation Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1804–87), the educator and encyclopedist Butrus al-Bustani (1819–83), and the playwrights Marun Naqqash (1817–55) and Adib Ishaq (1856–85). Journalism flourished. Expressing antifeudal and progressive ideas, Lebanese poetry and prose of the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th nevertheless remained closely tied to the traditions of classical Arabic literature. Major works of this period included the publicistic novel Tale of Fariyaq (1855) by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, the maqama collection Confluence of the Two Seas (1856), and the divans by Nasif al-Yaziji. The Lebanese writers Jurji Zaydan (1861–1914), Farah Antun (1874–1922), and Yaqub Sarruf (1852–1927), who emigrated to Egypt in the late 19th century, laid the foundation for the historical novel.

On the eve of World War I (1914–18), Lebanese literature entered a new phase, marked by the decline of traditional forms and by romanticism in poetry and critical realism in prose. Prominent representatives of this current emigrated to the USA and South America, including Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931), noted for the novella Broken Wings (1912), the collection of songs A Tear and A Smile (1914), and the collection of short stories The Tempests (1920), and Amin al-Rihani (1876–1940), who wrote the novels Outside the Harem (1917) and Lily of the Valley. These writers founded a literary group, the Pen Association, in the USA in 1920. One of the group’s members, Mikhail Nuayma (born 1890), is known for the play Fathers and Children (1918) and the collection of short stories Once Upon a Time (1937); his critical articles showed the influence of V. G. Belinskii.

The transformation of Lebanon into a French mandate in 1920 destroyed the Lebanese people’s hope of gaining independence, and the literature of this period reflected the pessimistic outlook of many writers. French symbolism strongly influenced the literature of the 1920’s and 1930’s, notably the works of Adib Mazhar (died 1928) and Yusuf Ghassub (born 1893). Bishara al-Khuri, who wrote under the pseudonym of al-Akhtal al-Saghir, became famous for his poems calling for social justice and struggle against foreign oppressors. Also popular were the poems of Said Agi (born 1910) and Ilyas Abu Shabakh’s collection of romantic poems Serpents of Paradise. A revolutionarydemocratic literary current arose, and criticism of social inequality intensified. Outstanding figures in the development of realistic literature were Umar Fakhuri (1896–1946), who broke with decadent aesthetics; Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad (born 1908), author of The Lame Boy (1936), a collection of short stories from the lives of the poor and of the patriotic novel The Loaf (1939); and Karam Malham Karam (born 1903), who wrote the novels The Consumptive (1936) and The Cry of Suffering (1939).

During World War II (1939–45) and in the postwar period, progressive Lebanese writers gathered around the sociopolitical magazine al-Tariq (The Path), founded by Umar Fakhuri, Antoine Thabit (died 1964), and Raif al-Khuri (died 1967). Translations of works by M. Gorky, M. A. Sholokhov, E. G. Ehrenburg, K. M. Simonov, and other Soviet writers, as well as works by progressive Western European and American authors, were important in Lebanon’s cultural life. The struggle against fascism and colonialism and criticism of social injustice became dominant themes in Lebanese journalism and literature.

The short stories in the collections Dwarf Heroes (1948) and Ink on Paper (1957) by the writer and philologist Marun Abbud (1886–1962) described the hard lot of the fellahin and portrayed the lives of Lebanese young people. The complexities of social and political life in the Arab countries were depicted in the novellas Priests of the Temple (1952; Russian translation, 1955) and The Mighty Ubayd (1955) by George Hanna (1893–1969). The protagonists of the short stories of Muhammad Dakrub (born 1929), notably those of the collection Long Street (1954), were working-class people. The poet Radwan al-Shahhal (born 1915) wrote the narrative poem Lenin (1950; Russian translation, 1961).

New writers in the 1960’s included Muhammad Aytani, Hasan Qanafani and Idwar Bustani. Their prose treated social and political problems of contemporary Lebanon, including the struggle against imperialism and Israeli aggression. The influence of Western European modernist literature and existential philosophy may be seen in the works of Suhail Idris, Layla Baalbeka, Georges Ghanim, Ali Ahmad Said, and Yusuf Yunis.


Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Arabskaia literatura v XX v. Leningrad, 1946.
Hanna, Georges. “O literature Livana.” In the collection Sovremennaia arabskaia literatura. Moscow, 1960.
“Literatura Livana.” In the collection Sovremennyi Livan. Moscow, 1963.
Krymskii, A. E. Istoriia novoi arabskoi literatury, XIC–nach. XX v. Moscow, 1971.
Al-Munjid fi al-lughah wa al-adab wa al-ulum. Beirut, 1956.
Idris, Suhayl. Al-Qissah fi Lubnan. Cairo, 1957.
Saba, Issa. Shuara al-Qissah wa al-wasf fi Lubnan. Beirut, 1961.


The remains of stone fortifications and dwellings (in Jubayl, ancient Byblos) and pottery with comb impressions and line drawings of animals date from the fifth and fourth millennia B.C. There are numerous works of Phoenician art from the third and second millennia, including King Ahiram’s sarcophagus with its reliefs and inscriptions, figurines, jewelry, weapons, and bone plates with relief and engraved representations. Relics of the second and first millennia B.C. attest to ties with the ancient Egyptian, Assyrian-Babylonian, and Achaemenid cultures. Classical and Eastern traditions merged in the art of the Roman period, represented by the temple complex in Baalbek (first to third centuries A.D.) and the mosaics of the theater in Jubayl. Monasteries, churches, and catacombs (many decorated with mosaics) have survived from the Byzantine period. With the coming of the Arabs in the seventh century, Muslim religious buildings were constructed, including madrasas, minarets, and mosques (the Great Mosque in Baalbek). Markets, caravansaries, fortified border camps, and castles (the castle near Anjar, seventh and eighth centuries) were erected. Christian churches continued to be built. From the time of the crusaders (12th century) there are fortresses (Jubayl, Tripoli, Sayda; Beaufort Castle, 1139), monasteries (Belmont, or Dayr al-Balamand), and churches (the church of St. Phocas in Amyun with remnants of wall paintings). The mosques built under the patronage of the Mamelukes (from the 13th to the early 16th century) were small domed buildings with portals and windows faced with rows of black and white stone. The interiors were decorated with stalactites, wood carvings, marble inlay, ornamental mosaic panels, and inscriptions. Massive fortifications were also built—for example, the castle in Rashayya (13th century) and the Tower of the Lions in Tripoli (15th century). During the Ottoman period, Muslim religious architecture absorbed Turkish features, and ornamental carving and stained-glass windows were widely used. The Christian churches of this era were adorned with mosaics, icons, and murals in the Byzantine style. Important painters in the 17th and 18th centuries were Abdullah Zahir, Nester Tarabulsi, and Stefan Dayrani. The palace architecture of the 19th century and the early 20th was distinguished by light, elegant forms and excessive decorative detail, as exemplified by the Bayt al-Din palace. Lebanese houses were rectangular two-story stone structures with tiled flat or hipped roofs and arched windows or a gallery on the second floor.

In the 19th century and the early 20th murals and easel paintings dealt with both religious and everyday themes—for example, the murals in the home of the writer Marun Abbud in Jubayl, executed by N. al-Maadi, depicting realistic scenes from the life of the people. In the late 19th century and the early 20th realistic portraits and genre compositions were painted by H. Srur and Kh. al-Salibi, both of whom greatly influenced Lebanese artists of the next generation. After World War I (1914–18), Lebanese architecture came under strong French influence. Important Lebanese architects of the 1930’s were A. Thabit, G. Abu Shaar, and F. Trad.

Urban modernization was begun after Lebanon achieved independence in 1943. Apartment houses, movie theaters, schools, clinics, and hotels were built, employing such traditional local features as large rusticated stone blocks and arched windows and doors (the resort hotel in Sayda, 1946–48). Other buildings showed the influence of modern European and American architecture adapted to local conditions. Loggias, balconies, and ribbon windows were employed. The chief building material was reinforced concrete; stained glass and ceramics were used decoratively.

Realism dominated art in the 1930’s and 1940’s (M. Farruh and O. Onsi). In the 1950’s and 1960’s some artists came under the influence of surrealism (A. al-Rayyis), cubism and other abstract art movements (J. Khalife, E. Kanaan, and R. Sharaf), and primitivism (H. Zugayba). Traditions of realistic art were continued by S. Baltakse, P. Kirakosian, and I. Shamut. In sculpture, both realistic works (J. Hoyek) and stylized and abstract compositions were executed; N. Irani, R. Samaan, and Z. Khajejian sought to embody national themes in modernist forms. Poster art, caricature, book illustration (R. Shahal, I. Shamut) and engraving (A. Marini) developed.

Folk artists create metal and wood artifacts inlaid with bone and mother-of-pearl, copper vessels with stamped geometric designs, and cushions decorated with leather pieces of different colors. Other popular folk arts include weaving, embroidery, plaiting with colored straw (vessels with pictures of people and animals), and the making of rugs with ornamental designs or, in recent years, Lebanese scenes.


Loseva, I. M. “Zametki o livanskoi zhivopisi.” Sovremennyi Vostok, 1958, no. 3, p. 51–53.
Nazim Irani. “Zametki o sovremennom livanskom iskusstve.” Iskusstvo, 1960, no. 12.
Krenker, D., and W. Zschietzchmann. Les Châteaux des Croisés en Terre Sainte. Paris, 1939.
Chéhab, M. Mosaïques du Liban. Paris, 1957.
Haik Farjallah. Liban. [Paris, 1958.] (Les albums des guides bleus)
Taylor, G. The Roman Temples of Lebanon. [Beirut, 1967.]

Music has been important in the life of the people since ancient times. The National Conservatory in Beirut promotes the development and popularization of Lebanese musical art. The conservatory’s chamber orchestra gives eight or nine public concerts annually. The society known as Musical Youth of Lebanon, founded in 1956, holds international competitions, organizes concerts, and supervises musical education in the elementary schools and cultural activities in the provinces. In 1966 a music department was organized within the American University’s School of Art Studies in Beirut. The singer Fayruz has popularized Lebanese folk songs, although most “folk” music is a commercial imitation bearing no relation to genuine folk music. The annual Baalbek festivals, held since 1966, are important in the country’s musical life, acquainting listeners with the best musical works and performers of Lebanon and other countries.

Dramatic performances have been given since ancient times as part of rituals and festivals, but semiprofessional theatrical companies appeared in Lebanon only about 1950. In 1960 the director Munir Abu Dibs and Antun Multaka established a drama studio in Beirut. Drama groups usually form around a wellknown director or actor and in most cases disband after the production of a single play. The popular National Theater, established by the comic actor Shushu, has staged adaptations of plays by Molière, E. Labiche, and Italian and other authors. Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet, Goethe’s Faust, and plays by J. P. Sartre and E. Ionesco are known to Beirut audiences through the productions of Munir Abu Dibs. A. Multaka heads the theater department of the Lebanese University. In an experimental studio Multaka and his wife have staged Shakespeare’s Richard III, an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and plays by Lebanese writers. The Lebanese Dramatic Theater in Beirut under Michel Hattar has produced plays by B. Brecht and A. P. Chekhov.

Performances are given in Arabic, French, and English, although only those in Arabic are widely popular. Theaters are private and receive no state support. Leading playwrights include Georges Shahada, Edouard Bustani, Antun Maaluf, Michel Hattar, Raymond Jabar, and Isaam Maaluf. Among the important directors are Hakib Khuri, Abd al-Malik Issawi, Rojer Assaf, and Nidal al-Ashkar; popular actors include Antun Kirbaj, Michel Nabaa, Raja Khuri, and Rojer Assaf. Beirut has several theaters: the National Theater and the Beirut Theater (both opened in 1965), the Baalbek Festival Theater (opened in 1968), the Orion Theater, and the Armand du Cheila University Theater. Folk plays and shows are presented by groups and individual performers at the Piccadilly Theater.

Lebanon’s first feature film was made in 1929. Films of the 1930’s include the feature film Under the Ruins of Baalbek (director J. de Luc) and newsreels and documentaries made for foreign firms. The film Red Flowers (1957, director M. Harun) has been widely acclaimed. In the 1960’s the Beirut film studios Baalbek, Near East Sound, and Al-Asri were founded, producing Hello, Love! (director M. Salman), The Devil’s Cart (director J. Kahi), and The Ring Seller (director Y. Shahin). Most Lebanese films are melodramas and musical comedies featuring such well-known singers and dancers as Sabah, Z. Zauriq, I. Sadiq, and Fayruz. Efforts to go beyond this type of film may be seen in To an Unknown (1957, director J. Nasr), Broken Wings (1963, director Y. Maaluf), and The Mute and Love (1971, director A. Bahri). The development of a national cinematic art has been hampered by the large number of foreign films shown. The best-known film actors are F. Shauqi, J. Nanu, Z. Makuk, M. Maazri, and S. Barudi. Seven feature films were released in 1972. Lebanon has more than 230 movie theaters (1972). [14–1210–6; updated]



(Arabic, Jabal Lubnan), a mountain range in Lebanon, extending 170 km along the eastern Mediterranean coast and bounded by the Biqa Valley in the east. The highest peak is Mount Qurnet el-Sauda (3,083 m). The range is composed primarily of limestones and sandstones, and, in the north, also of basalts. The climate is Mediterranean. The eastern slope is drier than the western slope, which receives more than 1,000 mm of precipitation per year. Maquis and phrygana (xerophytic shrub and semishrub vegetation) predominate, and in some places there are groves of oak, Aleppo pine, maple, cypress, and cedars of Lebanon. The Jeitta karst cave is on the western slope.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Lebanese Republic

Capital city: Beirut

 Internet country code: .lb

Flag description: Three horizontal bands consisting of red (top), white (middle, double width), and red (bottom) with a green cedar tree  centered in the white band

National anthem: “An-Nashid Al-Watani Al-Lubnani” (All for the country, for the glory, for the flag), lyrics by Rashid Nakhle, music by Wadih Sabra

Geographical description: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria

Total area: 4,015 sq. mi. (10,400 sq. km.)

Climate: Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; mountains experience heavy winter snows

Nationality: noun: Lebanese (singular and plural); adjective: Lebanese

Population: 3,925,502 (July 2007 CIA est.)

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).

Languages spoken: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian

Religions: Muslim (Shi’a, Sunni, Druze, Isma’ilite, Alawite or Nusayri) 59.7%, Christian (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant) 39%, other 1.3%

Legal Holidays:

Assumption DayAug 15
Catholic EasterApr 24, 2011; Apr 8, 2012; Mar 31, 2013; Apr 20, 2014; Apr 5, 2015; Mar 27, 2016; Apr 16, 2017; Apr 1, 2018; Apr 21, 2019; Apr 12, 2020; Apr 4, 2021; Apr 17, 2022; Apr 9, 2023
Christmas DayDec 25
EpiphanyJan 6
Good Friday2011: Apr 22
2012: Apr 6; Apr 13
2013: Mar 29; May 3
2014: Apr 18
2015: Apr 3; Apr 10
2016: Mar 25; Apr 29
2017: Apr 14
2018: Mar 30; Apr 6
2019: Apr 19; Apr 26
2020: Apr 10; Apr 17
2021: Apr 2; Apr 30
2022: Apr 15; Apr 22
2023: Apr 7; Apr 14
Independence DayNov 22
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Orthodox EasterApr 24, 2011; Apr 15, 2012; May 5, 2013; Apr 20, 2014; Apr 12, 2015; May 1, 2016; Apr 16, 2017; Apr 8, 2018; Apr 28, 2019; Apr 19, 2020; May 2, 2021; Apr 24, 2022; Apr 16, 2023
St. Maroun's DayFeb 9
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in W Asia, on the Mediterranean: an important centre of the Phoenician civilization in the third millennium bc; part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 until 1919; gained independence in 1941 (effective by 1945). Official language: Arabic; French and English are also widely spoken. Religion: Muslim and Christian. Currency: Lebanese pound. Capital: Beirut. Pop.: 3 708 000 (2004 est.). Area: 10 400 sq. km (4015 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The Loan Agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Lebanon by His Excellency Mr.
The TIP specified that, "The Republic of Lebanon reserves the right to reject the offer to manage either of the Mobile Businesses through the Tender, and to discontinue the Tender at any time for any reason."
And within five years of the 1991 war we are likely to witness the finalizing of peace treaties between the government of the State of Israel and the governments of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Republic of Lebanon.
Hossam bin Abdulmohsen Al Anqari received, separately, here today, Head of the Audit Bureau of the Republic of Lebanon Ahmed Hamdan and Head of Supreme Audit Authority of the Republic of Maldives Hassan Zayat.
"With the start of the aid distribution program to our Palestinian brethrens in the Republic of Lebanon, around 9250 Ramadan food parcels were distributed through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center," Ambassador Bukhari said.
The Ambassador of the Sultanate to the Republic of Lebanon, Badr bin Mohammed Al Mantheri, expressed his happiness and appreciation for the patronage of Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said and Saad Al Hariri, the opening of the Sultanate's new embassy building in Beirut.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Crnadak is in an official visit to the Republic of Lebanon on January 16 and 17.
The Meeting affirmed the importance for the Lebanese Government to follow the policy of self-restraint and of supporting the Lebanese armed forces to enable them to carry out their duty to maintain the security, stability and independence of the Republic of Lebanon. AHN
Doha, (QNA) - HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani met separately on Monday morning with HE Ambassador of the Republic of Lebanon Hassan Qassim Najem, HE Ambassador of the Republic of France Eric Chevallier and HE Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the State of Qatar Drago Lovric.
Ahmed bin Barakat bin Abdullah Al-Ibrahim, the Sultanate's Ambassador to the Republic of Lebanon.
BAGHDAD / NINA / President Fuad Masum discussed with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon, Tammam Salam, on the sidelines of the Arab summit held in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh ways to develop bilateral relations.