|Official Language||Lebanese dialect of Arabic, Syriac|
|Other Languages||Syrian Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, Judæo-Arabic, Armenian, French, Greek, Italian (Lombard), Judajca, Sabir (Mediterranean Lingua Franca), Turkish|
|Largest Religions||Druze, Eastern Orthodox Church (Antioch Patriarchate), Maronite Catholic Church, Shia Islam, Sunni Islam|
|Other religions||Assyrian Church of the East, Catholicism (Armenian, Byzantine, and Latin Rites), Judaism, Oriental Orthodox Church (Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox)|
|Capital||Baakleen (Administrative and executive capital), Deir al-Qamar (Legislative and Judicial capital)|
|Government||Parliamentary democracy and federal republic|
|Independence||1923 (From the Ottoman Empire)|
|Currency||Dirham/Drachma (₯); 1 Dirham=100 fils (فلس)|
|Organizations||League of Mediterranean and Pontic Peoples, Community of Hellenophone States|
Long dominated by the Druze, Lebanon today is ruled by a coalition goverment representing all ethnic and religious groups found within its territory.
Along with much of the rest of the Middle East, Lebanon regained its independence in the 1920's due to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Lebanon's government structure has worked remarkably well at uniting the country's diverse groups into one unified multicultural nation. In the early days of the modern Lebanese Union, many people expected the country to devolve into civil war (like *here*); Lebanon's peaceful history and flourishing economy have proven them wrong, however. While much of the Middle East makes money off of historical, archeological, and religious tourism, as well as oil and/or agriculture depending on area, Lebanon's open, cosmopolitan blend of cultures has made it into the "party country" of the Eastern Mediterranean - full of beaches, nightlife, casinos, and beautiful people. It is also known as a tax haven and international banking center where the world's wealthy and sneaky keep their secret bank accounts.
Religion is a very important topic when understanding Lebanese history and politics. The country has a careful balance of similar numbers of Druze (the founders of the state), Christians, and Muslims. Formerly, the Druze merely allowed people of other religions to live on what they perceived solely their land, and the Ottomans used divide-and-rule tactics to govern the coastal Levant by pitting all religious denominations against each other, which certainly didn't help ease tensions between the Druze, Maronites, and Sunnis. However, like with the Kurds, the Young Turks movement and Lebanese independence movement during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire helped bring about a degree of cohesion amongst the coastal Arabs, be they Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Druze. Post-independence, as the state looked to distance itself from the theocratic monarchy of Turkey, the Lebanese Republic began implementing political and economic reforms based on the successes of western countries like France, which included the political powers that be trying to engender societal changes and relegate religion to the private life of individuals and prevent religious groups from influencing public policy. This has seen varying degrees of success, with the Druze most open to and in favor of secularization, and the Shia the most opposed. The Maronite patriarchate still acts like a state-within-a-state and the Sunnis still revere the caliph in Gordion as their religious sovereign, but overall Lebanon is one of very few of the countries of the Middle East to enshrine the right to change religions in their constitution and is the most committed to the very Western notion of laïcité, something not its pan-Arabist neighbor Syria is keen on doing. There is a very popular Druze saying that started amongst Druze freedom fighters in Syria that goes "Religion is for God, the fatherland is for all."
Lebanon is perhaps the only region in the entire Ottoman Empire where converts from Islam to Christianity were permitted. The most example was the Shihab ruling dynasty that has always been a power player in Lebanese politics. The dynasty (allegedly) originated in the Hijaaz region but moved during the rise of the Islamic state to the Levant after its capture from the Roman Empire in the 600's. The family is quite large, but more branches converted to Maronite Catholicism in the early 1700's than stayed Sunni Muslim or became Eastern Orthodox.
(Population: 7,370,910) • Druze (26.29%): 1,937,812 • Christian (40%): 2,948,364 a) Catholic (18.43%): 1,358,459 i) Maronite (14.35%): 1,057,726 ii) Melkite (2.07%): 152,578 iii) Latin (1.7%): 125,305 iiii) Armenian (.31%): 22,850 b) Eastern Orthodox (14.3%): 1,054,040 c) Oriental Orthodox (3.884375%): 296,311 i) Syriac Orthodox (2.89%): 213,019 ii) Armenian Orthodox (.93%): 68,549 iii) Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox (.2%): 14,742 d) Assyrian Church of the East (2%): 239,555 • Muslim (30.25%): 2,229,700 a) Shia (18%): 1,326,764 i) Twelver Jafari Shia (14%): 1,031,928 ii) Alawites (2.88%): 212,282 iii) Ismaili/Sevener Shia (1.12%): 82,554 b) Shafi’i and Hanafi Sunni (12.25%): 902,936 • Jewish (2.82%): 207,860 • Other (.64%): 47,174 a) Zoroastrians: 7,810 b) Yezidis, Yarsanis, Mandaeans, Manicheans: 10,792 (~2,698 each) c) Buddhists, Hindus, Xinto, etc: 6,861 d) Mormons: 69
here — Lebanon and parts of Syria