Lebanon :

Lebanon is a small and beautiful country on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

It is located at the meeting point of three continents and, as such, has been the crossroads of many civilizations whose traces may still be seen today.

Its coastline is about 225 km (150 miles) in length and is, on average, 45 km (30 miles) wide.

The total area of the country amounts to 10,452 square km (4,500 square miles). Along the coast are the five famous cities of Beirut, Byblos, Sidon, Tripoli, and Tyre (see interactive map under Tourism).

It is bordered in the north and east by Syria and in the south by Palestine.

Lebanon's beauty is illuminated by its geography, its narrow coastal plane and two parallel north/south mountains (the mountains of Lebanon and anti-Lebanon). The fertile Bekaa valley, with its Litani and Orontes Rivers, separates these mountains and nourishes the terrain.

Residing majestically over the valley, Qournet Assaouda in the north of Mount Lebanon (altitude 3,083 meters or 10,112 feet) and Jabal al-Sheikh in the south of the anti-Lebanon range (altitude 2,814 meters or 9,230 feet) remain as the highest peaks in the country.

This unparalleled natural splendor is enhanced by Lebanon's moderate, Mediterranean climate. Lebanon enjoys about 300 days per year of sunshine. The winter is mild on the coast and snowy in the mountains while the summer is hot on the coast and mild on the mountains.It is possible during the spring months to ski in the mountains and swim on the coast in the same day!

Government and Politics

Because of its long history, natural beauty, and rich culture, the Republic of Lebanon has always inhabited a special place in the world. Beginning with its independence on November 22, 1943, Lebanon has been and continues to be an integral player in the Middle East and throughout the international community.

As an Arab country, Lebanon's official language is Arabic; however, English and French are widely spoken. Tolerance and the encouragement of diversity as well as its strong political culture have confirmed Lebanon's world prominence. In fact, Lebanon is a founding member of the League of Arab States (LAS) and the United Nations and played a major role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Upon its independence, Lebanon adopted this flag (shown below) as a symbol of its enduring strength through self-sacrifice, durable peace, and sound democracy.

As a democratic republic, Lebanon enjoys a parliamentary system of government and a cabinet headed by a Prime Minister. The structure of government at the national level is based on its constitutional principle of separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers.

Currently, Mr. Michel Sleiman serves his six-year term as President, Mr. Nabih Berri, was elected as President of the National Assembly in 1992, and Mr. Najib Mikati serves his term as President of the Council of Ministers. Likewise, the 128 members of the Parliament are elected by universal adult suffrage for a four-year term.

Business

As the region's center of trade and business, Lebanon is a host to several foreign companies. Lebanon offers one of the most liberal investment climates in the Middle East. The government offers incentives to attract foreign and domestic investment, including low income tax rates for individuals and corporations.

While opportunities for foreign investment and business are plentiful, they faces great competition as European and Middle Eastern companies dominate foreign trade and investment in Lebanon.

(For more information on trade, business, economy, or investment in Lebanon, see The Ministry of Economy and Trade, Trade Information Center, The Investment and Development Authority in Lebanon, or the Ministry of Finance).

Education

At the outset of the 19th century, professors, poets, journalists, and historians convened in Lebanese cultural institutions to revive old Arab traditions and extol the value of modern culture. Lebanon's seven major universities and numerous specialized colleges were thus founded. For example, the American University in Beirut, founded in 1866, offers a liberal education that has trained many of the region's leaders, educators, and scientists. A Lebanese state university was founded in 1967 comprising faculties of law, medicine, arts, and science. Moreover, Lebanon's nation-wide network of elementary and secondary public and private schools lay a strong foundation for further university education and vocational training.

Because Lebanon is a country where three languages - Arabic, French, and English - are commonly spoken, there are schools that teach in Arabic, French, and English. Lebanon provides a wide variety of schools from which parents can choose, depending on which language of instruction they prefer.

Technology

Lebanon is at the forefront of the Internet and technology revolution with one of the highest amount of Internet users in the region. According to a survey by the Internet Arab World, Lebanon trails only three countries -- UAE with 400,000 Internet users, Saudi Arabia with 300,000 Internet users, and Egypt with 440,000 internet users. Still, Lebanon's total Internet users amount to 227,500, which is highly impressive for such a small country.

The Internet and its benefits continue to grow in Lebanon. Lebanese retailers use the Internet in order to tap into the international market, expanding their customer base. Approximately 13,000 companies in Lebanon advertise or sell products on the Internet, a number with is expected to reach 500,000 within the next few years. While the Lebanese used to be able to surf through American or European web sites, they are now visiting web sites created by Lebanese for Lebanese companies. Today in Lebanon, Terra Net (terra.net.lb) has the biggest content site in Lebanon with 1,200 pages.

Related Links
CIA World Fact Book -Lebanon
CedarLand - The Lebanon Site
United Nation - Country Profile Lebanon