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Religion in Lebanon

Population

According to 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 sparse.

Religions of Lebanon

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 more segregated.

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.

Language

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.

Religion

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.

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