Lebanon, Al-Jumhūrīya al-Lubnānīya, Lebanese Republic, Republic of the Middle East, borders Syria to the north and east, Israel to the southeast and south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. It has an area of 10,452 km². Beirut is its capital and the main port and it is also known as the country of Cedars.
Lebanon’s economy is dominated by banking and other business services. Before the civil war of the 1970s, Beirut was the main financial capital of the Middle East. Since that time, the combination of war, the 1982 Israeli invasion, and fighting between different factions have resulted in rising unemployment, rising inflation, and the collapse of all foreign and tourist investment, as well as destruction. from numerous factories and companies. The gross domestic product (GDP) in 2006was 22,722 million dollars (according to World Bank data), which amounts to 5,603.10 dollars per capita.
About 30.6% of the Lebanese land is cultivated. The coastal plain is intensively cultivated and produces tobacco and fruit and vegetable products, among which oranges, bananas, grapes, figs and melons stand out. In the Bekaa valley, partially irrigated, cereals and vegetables are grown.
Cooler areas produce apples, cherries, plums, potatoes, wheat, and barley. In 2006, 946,000 t of fruit were produced, mainly grapes (110,600 t), oranges and apples; 810,900 t of vegetables; and 511,400 t of potatoes (potatoes). Although marijuanaand opium crops were important during the civil war, they have been considered eradicated since 1993. Sheep, goats and cows graze in the highlands which has contributed to soil erosion and the almost total destruction of its forests, which were well known for their cedars. In 2006 there were 494,700 heads in Lebanon cattle goats, 337,300 sheep and 76,900 heads of cattle.
The conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s disabled Lebanon’s only heavy industry, the oil refineries. The most important products of light industries are silk, cotton textiles, footwear, matches, and soap.
In 2003, total electricity production was 10,671 million kWh. The installed generation capacity was one million kW. The largest hydroelectric project in the country is that of the Litani River in the Bekaa Valley.
Currency and banking
The unit of currency in Lebanon is the Lebanese pound made up of 100 piastres (1,507.50 pounds were equal to 1 US dollar in 2006). The Bank of Lebanon (1964) is the central bank and the only one that can issue currency. Lebanon was long the banking and financial center of the Middle East, but the civil war wiped out this role.
Trade is of paramount importance to the economy. Until the mid-1970s, the climate, landscape and historical remains favored tourism development, with the consequent benefit for the country’s economy. Both commerce and industry have suffered the serious consequences of the state of war of the 1970s and 1980s. In 2003 the annual value of imports was 7,167 million dollars and that of exports 1,524 million. Lebanon’s main commercial exchanges take place with other nations in the Middle East as well as with France, Germany and the United States.
Transport and communication
In 1997, there were 336 vehicles for every 1,000 residents, which circulated on its 58 merchant ships with a tare of 135,904 tons.
In 2000 the number of radio sets was 2,850,000 and that of televisions 1,170,000. There were two commercial television networks. The telegraph service is privately owned. The country had 15 newspapers published in Beirut; although most of them are published in Arabic there are also others in Armenian, English and French.
In 2006, the total workforce was 1,624,006 workers, of which 31% work in industry, 62% in the service sector and only 7% in agriculture. In the late 1980s the unemployment rate was at least 33 percent.
Primary education is free but not compulsory. The literacy rate is above 88.3% and is among the highest in the Arab world. In 2000, there were 453,986 students attending 2,160 primary schools, and an enrollment rate of 79% in secondary schools. There are several specialized state schools, such as agricultural or business schools.
In Beirut there are five of the Lebanese universities: the Lebanese, public and state University (1951), the American University of Beirut (1866), the University of San José, belonging to the Jesuits (1881), the Arab University of Beirut (1960) and a university run by the Maronites. In 2002 – 2003 the total number of students was 144,050. The country has a wide variety of specialized schools and several teacher training centers.
Health and social welfare
In the 1960s and early 1970s a comprehensive Social Security code was introduced, under which employers and the government had to make most of the payments. It provided aid in case of illness, accident, disability insurance, maternity benefits, aid for large families and severance pay.
The weakening of central government authority during the 1970s and 1980s left militias and humanitarian organizations with the task of providing health services, before the government was restored in the 1990s. In 2008 life expectancy was 70.9 years for men and 76 for women. At that time, as a country located in Asia according to EXTRAREFERENCE, Lebanon had one doctor for every 307 residents and one hospital bed for every 333 residents.