Country of the World Lebanon

About the country Lebanon, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.

NATIONS AND THEIR RULERS

LEBANON

NITTY-GRITTY

Lay of the Land: Located in southwest Asia, Lebanon is a strip of land along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Its principal topographic features are a narrow coastal plain behind which are the high Lebanese Mountains, the fertile Beqaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains extending to the Syrian border.

Size: 4,015 sq. mi. (10,400 sq. km.), smaller than Connecticut.

Population: Before the 1975-1976 civil war, about 3.3 million; it has dropped since to 3.1 million.

Who Rules: A Parliament, elected along sectarian religious lines. A holdover from the days of French colonialism, which cultivated sectarian divisions in the population to undercut Arab nationalism, this arrangement was formalized in the "National Pact"--a gentlemen's agreement, now a law--between Maronite Christian and Sunni Muslim leaders in 1943 during the independence struggle against Vichy France. The presidency and the army command were reserved for Maronites, the post of prime minister for a Sunni Muslim, and the head of Parliament for a Shia Muslim. Cabinet ministers were to include the other major sects: Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, and Druze. Based on the last French-conducted census in 1932, all political appointments were made in the ratio of six to five in favor of the Christians. Although severely strained by the civil war, this sectarian system is still in existence today.

Who REALLY Rules: Maronite Christian Pres. Elias Sarkis, with Syrian, Israeli, U.S., and Saudi backing, is attempting to reconstruct the old alliance of foreign capitalists, and semifeudal landlords that ruled the country before the civil war. Syrian and Israeli troops occupy Lebanon whenever they feel the need.

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