General Country Information

A former French mandate, the Republic of Lebanon gained independence in 1943 and has been plagued by violent unrest throughout its modern history.

A civil war that started in 1975 ended in 1990 with Syria effectively controlling the country and maintaining a strong military presence.

Meanwhile, Israel continued to occupy the South of Lebanon.

In 2000, after years of guerilla warfare with the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, Israeli forces finally withdrew from most of Lebanon.

Public outrage following the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri forced Syria to withdraw its  armed forces in 2005.

A UN-tribunal set up to prosecute those responsible for Hariri’s and other assassinations still clouds relations between the two countries.

Lebanon enjoyed a period of relative stability until the summer of 2006, when Israel launched a broad military offensive aimed at destroying Hezbollah.

Since then, a political power struggle between the Hezbollah-led opposition and the pro-western government of prime minister Fouad Al-Siniora has continued to destabilize the country.

The Lebanese political system is based on Confessionalism, a system of government that distributes political institutional power proportinally among the various religious sects.

Lebanon has a population of about 3,9 million made up of a mix of Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims, Druze and others.

Lebanon has an estimated literacy rate of 87.4%.

More general information is available at BBC Country Profile and at Wikipedia in both English and Arabic.

Official information can be found at the Lebanese government website in Arabic and English.