Forgotten World (178): Lebanon

Lebanon was carved out of the Ottoman Empire and granted independence by the French in 1943. Clashes between Palestinian militia and Christian fighters broke out into war in 1975 and the conflict lasted until 1990. Sectarian tensions remain and the various militia are backed by countries around the region. The population of 4 million – almost half in the capital Beirut – lives in constant anxiety of another break out of major violence.
Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy which implements a special system known as confessionalism. This system is intended to ensure that sectarian conflict is kept at bay and attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of the 18 recognized religious groups in the governing body.
Despite perennial instability, Lebanon is somewhat buttressed from global economic crises since it has little industry or export capacity and development is solidly financed by cash-rich Gulf companies. Large sums are also poured in by the vast Lebanese diaspora.


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