::: Levant Research Institute :::

:: LEBANON ::

:: LEBANON ::

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French demarcated the region of Lebanon in 1920 and granted this area independence in 1943. Since independence the country has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on its position as a regional center for finance and trade. The country’s 1975-90 civil war that resulted in an estimated 120,000 fatalities, was followed by years of social and political instability. Sectarianism is a key element of Lebanese political life. Neighboring Syria has long influenced Lebanon’s foreign policy and internal policies.
Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon’s economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon’s position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily – mostly from domestic banks – saddling the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007 following the July 2006 war. The collapse of the government in early 2011 over its backing of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and unrest in neighboring Syria slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-12, after four years of 8% average growth. In September 2011, the Cabinet endorsed a bill that would provide $1.2 billion in funding to improve Lebanon’s downtrodden electricity sector, but fiscal limitations will test the government’s ability to invest in other areas, such as water.

Econome

GDP Per Capita (PPP):
$16,000 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$16,000 (2011 est.)
$16,000 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars

Agriculture:
Citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco; sheep, goats.

Industrial:
banking, tourism, food processing, wine, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating

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Mark Giusti
British Airways

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