Owing to its location at the centre of three continents, Lebanon is a place of great cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Ruled by the Ottoman Empire for almost 400 years, Lebanon was placed under the French Mandate following World War I, and later granted independence in 1946. Lebanon thrived from its banking and tourism industry in the 1950s and ’60s, and was often called the “Paris of the Middle East” for the relatively liberal and glamorous lifestyle embraced there, particularly in the capital city of Beirut.
Lebanon was devastated by a civil war lasting from 1975 until 1990, during which multiple militias established and attacked from strongholds spread across Lebanon. The war resulted in around 200,000 civilian fatalities and induced foreign political intervention from neighbouring Israel and Syria, in the form of military occupation, for many years after the war ended.
The official languages in Lebanon are Arabic and French.
Lebanon has always embraced its many religious communities. In the National Pact of 1943, which determined the multi-confessional nature of the Lebanese government, it was agreed that any President of Lebanon must be Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shiite Muslim, with a Sunni Muslim Prime Minister and a Greek Orthodox Deputy Prime Minister. Parliamentary seats are also allocated to members of some 18 religious groups, depending on the composition of each constituency. This has both advantages and disadvantages and is currently under review.
Following the 2005 Cedar Revolution – a series of protests following the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri – and the 2006 war with Israel, Lebanon’s government has never quite regained its momentum. Hezbollah, a militant Shia Muslim group has continued to strain the country’s relationship with its neighbours. A tribunal, scheduled for the summer of 2011, to investigate Hezbollah members implicated in the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, resulted in the resignation of ten cabinet ministers and a presidential appointee, forcing rushed elections and a suspension of the tribunal. Security fears rose again in October 2012 with the Beirut car-bomb assassination of the security Chief of Staff.
Wider fears of an overspill of Syria’s civil war grew in 2012 as conflict in the neighbouring country escalated and clashes between Syrian forces and rebels reached Lebanon’s border. Lebanon has largely avoided being drawn in to the Syrian conflict with the exception of Hezbollah troops that the group has deployed in support of the Syrian government. Lebanon has been affected more widely, however, by the mass migration of Syrian refugees that has brought over 1 million displaced people into the country.
Owing to the many years of warfare Lebanon has experienced, the economy suffers from high taxation, archaic legislation and widespread corruption. Its primary sources of revenue, banking and tourism, were hit hard during the years of war, but the country has been fortunate to attract much foreign investment and aid in rebuilding its economic infrastructure.
Since the end of the 15-year civil war, it is estimated that approximately 350,000 Lebanese remain internally displaced, which has resulted in the isolation of large portions of the population. There also remain almost 400,000 Palestinian refugees in southern Lebanon, who have not been allowed to return to Palestine following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Lebanon’s literacy rate is at an average of 93.9% of the population aged 15 and above.
Lebanon’s press is categorised as being partly free and the country is ranked 116th in the Global Press Freedom rankings. Of a population of 6.2 million (2016 estimate), some 74% has access to the internet. According to surveys carried out in 2008, 6.6% of the population has watched SAT-7 or continue to watch it. 
Lebanon is 59% Muslim and 39% Christian, with 2% accounting for other religious minorities. There are fears about the increasing Muslim majority in Lebanon, due to increased attacks on Lebanese Christians. Many Christians claim they are only protected because they are represented in government – a unique trait in a Middle Eastern country. Parliamentary member, Gahzi Yousef, has spoken of the importance of keeping the Christian community in Lebanon intact in order to maintain diversity in the country, but fears that too many Christians are emigrating for that to work.
In 2010 the predominantly Christian town of Sidon was flooded by threatening leaflets from insurgents, instructing Christians to “spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week or bear the consequences.” The then Lebanese Prime Minister, Said Hariri, ordered a crackdown on the culprits behind these threats and a wave of bombings that swept through various Christian settlements along the coast of Lebanon.
- Pray that the Muslim and Christian communities will be able to co-exist and work together to rebuild Lebanon.
- Pray that Lebanon can set a positive example of religious diversity and tolerance for other countries in the region.
- Pray that internally displaced people within Lebanon are able to either return home or find and create new ones.
- Pray that the Christian minority can turn to one another for support, rather than feel the need to flee.
- Pray that peace will return to Lebanon after years of warfare and civil unrest.
 Freedom House Global Press Freedom Report 2010
 SAT-7 Viewer Statistics 2008