POPULATION4,140,289 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$15,700 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSMuslim 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, Coptic, Protestant), other 1.3% note: 17 religious sects recognized
ALSO IN MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, AND THE CAUCASUSAlgeria
AT THE CENTER
With a rich and complex history, shaped by its religious diversity and challenging international environment, Lebanon has stood at a crossroads of culture since ancient times, and remains home to prominent Christian and Muslim communities. After years of rule under the Ottomans and French, Lebanese leaders secured their independence in 1943 and established a power-sharing system that distributed high-level government offices among Maronite Christians, as well as Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. However, the system eventually faltered and a sectarian war broke out in 1975. Lebanon was dragged into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demographic realities of the country's significant Muslim population increasingly clashed with the Maronites’ dominant political position. The war was pacified following the Taif Accord and Syrian intervention in 1990, but Syrian forces remained in the country until 2005. Today, the ongoing civil strife in Syria has significantly affected Lebanon's domestic politics and economy as Syrian citizens have sought refuge in Lebanon to escape the violence.