With a population of over three million, the Republic of Lebanon is an Arab state in western Asia. It occupies a long, narrow strip of land on the Eastern Shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The most populated and most recognized city in Lebanon is Beirut, the capital. The official tree of Lebanon is the Cedar Tree and the official language is Arabic, although English and French is commonly spoken.
Lebanon is rather densely populated, but the people are unevenly distributed. Most Lebanese are Arab, but there are many other racial and cultural groups. Muslims make up more than half of the population, which is grouped into the Sunnites and the Shi ites, and Christians make up most of the rest. Other religions include the Maronite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and the Druze. There are about seventeen religious communities in Lebanon.
About 88 percent of the people in Lebanon can read and write. Relative to its size, it has the largest number of skilled medical and professional personal among the Arab nations in the Middle East. The most common place to learn is at Saint Joseph University, the American University, and the Arab University. Only about 47 percent of Lebanon s students attend public elementary and high schools. The rest of the students go to private or missionary schools.
Lebanon is a rugged land with two mountain ranges hat consist of the Lebanon Mountains and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The Bakaa Valley lies between these two mountain ranges which gets its water from Lebanon s chief river, the Litani. Lebanon s Mediterranean coast has warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Because of the seasonal conditions, the Bakaa Valley has very rich farming regions, producing large amounts of tobacco, vegetables, cotton, and grain.
The Lebanese economy has traditionally been based on the trade and on Beirut s position in the Middle East. A railroad system links Lebanon and other Arab countries together. Lebanon s industries include oil refineries, food processing, and textile manufacturing. Other economy boosters include cement and chemical industries, metal fabricating, and tourism. The economy was extremely disrupted by World War One, the Civil War, and other foreign occupations.
Beginning in 1914 and ending in 1918, World War One, also known as the Great War, brought a lot of depression, poverty, and international conflict to many Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon. Following the war, Lebanon was initially administrated by allied forces and placed under the French Military. In 1920 Beirut and other coastal towns were added to the Lebanese territory to form a Greater Lebanon. In 1923, the League of Nations officially gave the mandate for Lebanon and Syria to France. A mandate is an authoritative command or order, especially a written one.
The Maronite Church, one of the largest eastern rite communities of the Roman Catholic Church, and some other people, strongly pro-French, by tradition, welcomed this while the French held the mandate which the Maronites favored. The expansion of prewar Lebanon into Greater Lebanon changed the population. This change in population was because the rest of the Lebanese did not like the way the allied French forces took over Lebanon. The population also changed because of poor economy.
The war years took their toll on Lebanon. With the allied forces still occupying the region, it was a very grim reality. Jobs were scarce and poverty was rapidly increasing. Many people started looking for a way out in order for them and their families to survive. At the same time the news was coming from the United States of great job opportunity which became the aim of many Lebanese citizens, to leave and fulfill their dream in the land of opportunity.