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Lebanon-The 1948 Arab-Israeli War THE LEBANESE POLITICAL-MILITARY SITUATION: INDEPENDENCE TO 1975





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Lebanon Index

Lebanon, alone among the Arab nations bordering Palestine, played no significant part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that led to the establishment of Israel. The Lebanese Army deployed four battalions along the border but withdrew them from combat, enabling the Israeli Army to capture a strip of eastern Lebanon in October 1948. The new state of Israel occupied this area until March 23, 1949, when Lebanon signed an armistice. Under the agreement, Lebanon and Israel gave mutual assurances that they would not embark on military offensives against each other and would respect each other's territory. The old Palestine-Lebanon border was accepted as the new "armistice demarcation line" but was not recognized as a legal political or territorial boundary (see fig. 1).

Data as of December 1987

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The tragedy of war is reflected in the face of this Lebanese
Courtesy United Nations

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War

Lebanon, alone among the Arab nations bordering Palestine, played no significant part in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that led to the establishment of Israel. The Lebanese Army deployed four battalions along the border but withdrew them from combat, enabling the Israeli Army to capture a strip of eastern Lebanon in October 1948. The new state of Israel occupied this area until March 23, 1949, when Lebanon signed an armistice. Under the agreement, Lebanon and Israel gave mutual assurances that they would not embark on military offensives against each other and would respect each other's territory. The old Palestine-Lebanon border was accepted as the new "armistice demarcation line" but was not recognized as a legal political or territorial boundary (see fig. 1).

Data as of December 1987



BackgroundFollowing World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French separated out the region of Lebanon in 1920, and granted this area independence in 1943. A lengthy civil war (1975-1990) devastated the country, but Lebanon has since made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater voice in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, Lebanon has conducted several successful elections. Most militias have been disbanded, with the exception of Hizballah, designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and Palestinian militant groups. During Lebanon's civil war, the Arab League legitimized in the Ta'if Accord Syria's troop deployment, numbering about 16,000 based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and the passage in September 2004 of UNSCR 1559 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 22 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"), and Syria withdrew the remainder of its military forces in April 2005. In May-June 2005, Lebanon held its first legislative elections since the end of the civil war free of foreign interference, handing a majority to the bloc led by Saad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son. In July 2006, Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel in which approximately 1,200 Lebanese civilians were killed. UNSCR 1701 ended the war in August 2006, and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) deployed throughout the country for the first time in decades, charged with securing Lebanon's borders against weapons smuggling and maintaining a weapons-free zone in south Lebanon with the help of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The LAF in May-September 2007 battled Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp, winning a decisive victory, but destroying the camp and displacing 30,000 Palestinian residents. Lebanese politicians in November 2007 were unable to agree on a successor to Emile LAHUD when he stepped down as president, creating a political vacuum until the election of Army Commander Michel SULAYMAN in May 2008 and the formation of a new unity government in July 2008.
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
Area(sq km)total: 10,400 sq km
land: 10,230 sq km
water: 170 sq km
Geographic coordinates33 50 N, 35 50 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 454 km
border countries: Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km

Coastline(km)225 km

ClimateMediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Qurnat as Sawda' 3,088 m
Natural resourceslimestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land
Land use(%)arable land: 16.35%
permanent crops: 13.75%
other: 69.9% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)1,040 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)4.8 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.38 cu km/yr (33%/1%/67%)
per capita: 385 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsdust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Beirut from vehicular traffic and the burning of industrial wastes; pollution of coastal waters from raw sewage and oil spills
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - noteNahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity
Population4,017,095 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 25.8% (male 528,047/female 506,838)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 1,294,485/female 1,399,047)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 130,148/female 158,530) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 29.3 years
male: 28 years
female: 30.5 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.107% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)17.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)6.03 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)NA (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 87% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 21.82 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.26 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 19.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 73.66 years
male: 71.15 years
female: 76.31 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.85 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Lebanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Lebanese
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

Religions(%)Muslim 59.7% (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), other 1.3%
note: 17 religious sects recognized
Languages(%)Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian

Country nameconventional long form: Lebanese Republic
conventional short form: Lebanon
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah
local short form: Lubnan
former: Greater Lebanon
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Beirut
geographic coordinates: 33 52 N, 35 30 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions6 governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah); Beqaa, Beyrouth (Beirut), Liban-Nord, Liban-Sud, Mont-Liban, Nabatiye
note: two new governorates - Aakar and Baalbek-Hermel - have been legislated but not yet implemented
Constitution23 May 1926; amended a number of times, most recently in 1990 to include changes necessitated by the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta'if Accord) of October 1989

Legal systemmixture of Ottoman law, canon law, Napoleonic code, and civil law; the constitutional court reviews laws only after they have been passed; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage21 years of age; compulsory for all males; authorized for women at age 21 with elementary education; excludes military personnel
Executive branchchief of state: President Michel SULAYMAN (since 25 May 2008)
head of government: Prime Minister Sa'ad al-Din al-HARIRI (since 9 November 2009);Deputy Prime Minister Elias MURR (since 9 November 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president and members of the National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly for a six-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 25 May 2008 (next to be held in 2014); the prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president in consultation with the National Assembly
election results: Michel SULAYMAN elected president; National Assembly vote - 118 for, 6 abstentions, 3 invalidated; 1 seat unfilled due to death of incumbent

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Nuwab (Arabic) or Assemblee Nationale (French) (128 seats; members elected by popular vote on the basis of sectarian proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 June 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by group - March 8 Coalition 54.7%, March 14 Coalition 45.3%; seats by group - March 14 Coalition 71; March 8 Coalition 57

Judicial branchfour Courts of Cassation (three courts for civil and commercial cases and one court for criminal cases); Constitutional Council (called for in Ta'if Accord - rules on constitutionality of laws); Supreme Council (hears charges against the president and prime minister as needed)

Political pressure groups and leadersMaronite Church [Patriarch Nasrallah SFAYR]
other: note - most sects retain militias and a number of militant groups operate in Palestinian refugee camps
International organization participationABEDA, ACCT, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands consisting of red (top), white (middle, double width), and red (bottom) with a green cedar tree centered in the white band

Economy - overviewLebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. In the years since, Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the Rafiq HARIRI government in 2000 began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and passing legislation to privatize state enterprises, but economic and financial reform initiatives stalled and public debt continued to grow despite receipt of more than $2 billion in bilateral assistance at the 2002 Paris II Donors Conference. The Israeli-Hizballah conflict in July-August 2006 caused an estimated $3.6 billion in infrastructure damage, and prompted international donors to pledge nearly $1 billion in recovery and reconstruction assistance. Donors met again in January 2007 at the Paris III Donor Conference and pledged more than $7.5 billion to Lebanon for development projects and budget support, conditioned on progress on Beirut's fiscal reform and privatization program. An 18-month political stalemate and sporadic sectarian and political violence hampered economic activity, particularly tourism, retail sales, and investment, until the new government was formed in July 2008. Political stability following the Doha Accord of May 2008 helped boost tourism and, together with a strong banking sector, enabled real GDP growth of 6% despite a slowdown in the region.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$44.16 billion (2008 est.)
$41.54 billion (2007 est.)
$39.95 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$29.35 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.3% (2008 est.)
4% (2007 est.)
-4.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$11,100 (2008 est.)
$10,600 (2007 est.)
$10,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 5.1%
industry: 18.8%
services: 76.1% (2008 est.)
Labor force1.481 million
note: in addition, there are as many as 1 million foreign workers (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate(%)9.2% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)28% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)22.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $6.998 billion
expenditures: $9.955 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)10% (2008 est.)
4.2% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.374 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$57.4 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$45.51 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$9.641 billion (31 December 2008)
$10.86 billion (31 December 2007)
$8.279 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipientof the $7.6 billion in grants and loans pledged to Lebanon at the Paris III conference in January 2007, Beirut as of mid-December 2007 had signed agreements for $3 billion, including $1 billion in project financing, $750 million in direct budget support, $750 million in private sector credit, and $285 million in in-kind aid; about $500 million of the $1.7 billion pledged for direct budget support has been disbursed to Lebanon; donors in August 2006 also pledged nearly $1.8 billion in aid to help Lebanon recover from the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war; during the conflict, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait provided $1.5 billion in concessional loans to the Lebanese central bank to maintain confidence in the Lebanese currency. (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)160.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
177.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productscitrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats
Industriesbanking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating

Industrial production growth rate(%)NA%

Current account balance-$2.987 billion (2008 est.)
-$1.395 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$5.023 billion (2008 est.)
$4.077 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)jewelry, base metals, chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit and vegetables, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper
Exports - partners(%)Syria 24.9%, UAE 12.9%, Switzerland 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 6.1%, Turkey 4.2% (2008)
Imports$16.25 billion (2008 est.)
$11.93 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco, electrical machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners(%)Syria 10.5%, France 9.5%, US 9.3%, Italy 7.3%, China 6.8%, Germany 4.9%, Saudi Arabia 4.8%, Turkey 4.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$28.28 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$20.55 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$33.28 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$31.6 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesLebanese pounds (LBP) per US dollar - 1,507.5 (2008 est.), 1,507.5 (2007), 1,507.5 (2006), 1,507.5 (2005), 1,507.5 (2004)

Currency (code)Lebanese pound (LBP)

Telephones - main lines in use714,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular1.43 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: repair of the telecommunications system, severely damaged during the civil war, now complete
domestic: two wireless networks provide good service; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 50 per 100 persons
international: country code - 961; submarine cable links to Cyprus, Egypt, and Syria; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean and 1 Atlantic Ocean); coaxial cable to Syria (2008)
Internet country code.lb
Internet users2.19 million (2008)
Airports7 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 43 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 6,970 km (includes 170 km of expressways) (2005)

Ports and terminalsBeirut, Tripoli
Military branchesLebanese Armed Forces (LAF): Army (includes Navy), Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Lubnaniya) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2007)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,106,879
females age 16-49: 1,122,595 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 948,765
females age 16-49: 954,663 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 33,018
female: 31,800 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationallacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms area in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights; the roughly 2,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been in place since 1978

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 405,425 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)); 50,000-60,000 (Iraq)
IDPs: 17,000 (1975-90 civil war, Israeli invasions); 200,000 (July-August 2006 war) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)9.03 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 97.2%
hydro: 2.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)8.42 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)972 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)92,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)86,750 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS3,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2007 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.4%
male: 93.1%
female: 82.2% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)2.7% of GDP (2006)








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