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GENERAL INFORMATION on LEBANON


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Lebanon is an Arab country. The official language is Arabic but English and French are widely spoken. Lebanon obtained its independence on November 22, 1943. It is a founding member of the League of Arab States and of the United Nations and played an important role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Lebanese flag dates from the early days of independence and is composed of three horizontal stripes: red on the top and the bottom and white in the middle with a Cedar tree covering the central part of the white stripe. The white stripe is equal in area to that of the two red stripes.

Between the years 1975 and 1991, a most devastating armed conflict took place in Lebanon. This conflict was described by the President, reflecting the opinion of most Lebanese, as 'the war of others on our land'. This was one of the most devastating wars in recent memory. Some 150,000 persons died, as many were seriously injured. The physical destruction alone was estimated by International Organizations at $25 to $30 billion which constituted close to 13 times the national income of the country at the end of the war. For the United States, these numbers would translate to 15 million dead and $85 trillion of physical destruction.

The form of government is a parliamentary democracy. The President of the Republic is elected by the Parliament for six years. The Speaker of Parliament is also elected by the Parliament but for four years, which is also the length of the period between parliamentary elections. The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister who forms a Cabinet of Ministers. The Cabinet must have the approval of the majority of deputies in Parliament.



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