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Lebanon


    • Note:
      Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions and regaining its national sovereignty since the end of the devastating 16-year civil war which began in 1975. Under the Ta'if accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater say in the political process. Since December 1990, the Lebanese have formed three cabinets and conducted the first legislative election in 20 years. Most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has seized vast quantities of weapons used by the militias during the war and extended central government authority over about one-half of the country. Hizballah, the radical Sh'ia party, retains most of its weapons. Foreign forces still occupy areas of Lebanon. Israel maintains troops in southern Lebanon and continues to support a proxy militia, The Army of South Lebanon (ASL), along a narrow stretch of territory contiguous to its border. The ASL's enclave encompasses this self-declared security zone and about 20 kilometers north to the strategic town of Jazzine. As of December 1993, Syria maintained about 30,000-35,000 troops in Lebanon. These troops are based mainly in Beirut, North Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. Syria's deployment was legitimized by the Arab League early in Lebanon's civil war and in the Ta'if accord. Citing the continued weakness of the LAF, Beirut's requests, and failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if accord, Damascus has so far refused to withdraw its troops from Beirut.

    • Location:
      Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria

    • Map references:
      Middle East

    • Area:

        total area:
        10,400 sq km

        land area:
        10,230 sq km

        comparative area:
        about 0.8 times the size of Connecticut

    • Land boundaries:
      total 454 km, Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km

    • Coastline:
      225 km

    • Maritime claims:

        territorial sea:
        12 nm

    • International disputes:
      separated from Israel by the 1949 Armistice Line; Israeli troops in southern Lebanon since June 1982; Syrian troops in northern, central, and eastern Lebanon since October 1976

    • Climate:
      Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows

    • Terrain:
      narrow coastal plain; Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains

    • Natural resources:
      limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region

    • Land use:

        arable land:
        21%

        permanent crops:
        9%

        meadows and pastures:
        1%

        forest and woodland:
        8%

        other:
        61%

    • Irrigated land:
      860 sq km (1989 est.)

    • Environment:

        current issues:
        deforestation; 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

        natural hazards:
        duststorms, sandstorms

        international agreements:
        party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation

    • Note:
      Nahr al Litani 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






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Revised 13-August-1997