Useful country information
Total area: 4,015 sq mi (10,400 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 5,882,562 (growth rate: 9.37%); birth rate: 14.8/1000; infant mortality rate: 7.98/1000; life expectancy: 77.22
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Beirut, 2.022 million
Monetary unit: Lebanese pound
Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Ethnicity/race: 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 54% (27% Sunni, 27% Shia), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 6.5% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons. (2012 est.) note: 18 religious sects recognized
National Holiday: Independence Day, November 22
Literacy rate: 89.6% (2007 est.)
Lebanon lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Lebanon Mountains, which run parallel to the western coast, cover most of the country, while on the eastern border is the Anti-Lebanon range. Between the two lies the Bekaa Valley, the principal agricultural area.
Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions since 1991 and the end of the devastating 15-year civil war. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system.
According to the unwritten National Pact, different religious communities were represented in the government by a Maronite Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minister, and a Shiite national assembly speaker.
Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country.
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