Countryaah data, Lebanon's domestic population was estimated at 6.8
million in 2019. In addition, many refugees live in the
country. No census has been conducted since 1932, and all
population data are extremely uncertain. The country was
estimated to have an average population density of 650
residents per km2. However, the residents are
unevenly distributed; the coastal zone is most densely
populated, while the mountainous inland and Beka Valley are
The civil war of 1975-89 led to an extensive move into
the cities. In 2017, 88 percent of the population lived in
cities, and in 2012, 2.1 million lived in Beirut. Another
effect of the war is that various ethnic and religious
groups, which previously lived relatively mixed, have become
Religiously, Lebanon's population is the most complex in
the Middle East (see section Religion, below). This is
partly because the country is mainly made up of inaccessible
mountain regions, where persecuted religious minorities have
been able to find a sanctuary. The northern part of Mount
Lebanon itself has thus been the residence of the Maronites
for centuries, while the southern part, like Mount Hermon,
was ruled by the Druze.
To the east of Beka Valley, Shiite Muslims have become
entrenched in Anti-Lebanon. By contrast, the three largest
coastal cities are dominated by Sunnis. These groups are
similar in that the religious identity everywhere is
fundamental and the internal organization strong. Modern
political parties are often just new banners for old sects.
The divide between Muslims and Christians is crossed by
another ravine: the Maronites, who have long dominated state
power, do not consider themselves Arabs but descendants of
ancient Phoenicians and have resolutely oriented themselves
toward Rome and Paris; the Greek Orthodox Church members, on
the other hand, feel like Arabs and have played an important
role in Arab nationalism, especially in its early stages.
The country also has smaller Kurdish and Armenian
minorities, consisting of 75,000-100,000 and 150,000
individuals, respectively. In addition, there are Syrians,
Melkites and Cherks. Since the beginning of the 20th
century, there is a well-connected Muslim Cretan refugee
group that still speaks Greek. They are estimated at around
8,000. In addition, a large number of Palestinian refugees
(400,000) live in the southern parts of the country. There
is an extensive Lebanese diaspora resident in West Africa,
South America, North America and Australia.
The official language is Arabic. Dominant spoken
languages are Southern New Zealand. English and French are
widely used. The largest minority language is (western)
Armenian, spoken by 6% of the population.
Like the political system, the Lebanese society is built
on religious affiliation and ethnic group (compare the
sections Population and State Condition and Politics).
Lebanon has no official state religion, but every Lebanese
must belong to one of the more than 15 religious confessions
in the country. The Muslims are in the majority and make up
about 60% of the population. The rest are mainly Christian
(40%). The Shi'a Muslims (the twelve sect) make up the
largest single group today. The number of Sunni Muslims
amounts to just over 20% of the population, many of whom
follow the Shafi'ite law school. The Muslim group in the
broad sense also includes the Druze (about 7%) and the
number of fewer Alawites and Ismailites. Of the Christians,
just over half belong to the Maronite Church (Maronites).
Other Christians are Melkites, Greek Orthodox, Armenian
Orthodox, Armenian Catholics or belong to other, smaller
communities. A small minority are Protestants.
Since ancient times, there is a connection between
religious affiliation and geography. So, for example, Sunni
Muslims have traditionally been dominant in the coastal
cities (Beirut, Tripoli, Sayda) and the Maronites in the
northern parts of Mount Lebanon. Above all, however, Beirut
is an inter-confessional and multicultural city. In addition
to Beirut, the Shia Muslims live in parts of the Beka Valley
and in the southern parts of the country, with the center of
the city of Nabatiyye. From bases in the south, the Shiite
Muslim guerrilla Hizbullah has attacked targets in northern
Israel, resulting in retaliation from the Israeli side.
However, the prospect of Lebanon being transformed into an
Islamic state is non-existent in light of the confessional
pluralism in the country.