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Lebanon, officially the Lebanese Republic, is a sovereign state in Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.
The Lebanese banking sector’s relatively high level of success in recent years has garnered international attention. International business media outlets have praised Lebanon for being one of the very few countries continuing to report growth since the financial crash of 2008. The high global regard of Lebanon’s financial sector also lies in its active cooperation with international institutions and implementation of anti-money laundering measures. The Carnegie Middle East Center hosted a discussion with Lebanese banking sector representatives Khater Abi Habib, Saad Azhari, and Wassim Shahin to address the sector’s responses to various financial and regulatory challenges and its role within the Lebanese economy. Carnegie’s Paul Salem moderated the discussion. The Lebanese banking sector proved largely immune from the 2008 financial meltdown that caused the collapse of many financial institutions around the world. This is because Lebanese banks have years of experience operating in an unstable and risky political environment, the panelists explained. As a result, Lebanese banks have long embraced conservative banking policies. For example, banks must have at least 30 percent of their assets in cash.
|Agriculture||citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives & tobacco.|
|Manufacture||Winery, food processing, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products.|
|Services (Including financial)||75.4% (2013 estimate)|
|Bank Audi Saradar||Banking|
|Mediterranean Oil Shipping and Transport Company||Energy|
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The Beirut Stock Exchange (or BSE) is the principal stock exchange of Lebanon. Located in Beirut, it is a public institution run by a committee including a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman and eight members appointed via a decree issued by the Council of Ministers, in accordance with a proposal by the Minister of Finance. All BSE members are Lebanese Joint stock companies (SAL) with capital above 500,000 Lebanese Pounds and registered at the secretariat of the Commercial Register in. Members include holding companies and offshore companies. The BSE authorizes Brokerage firms the operation and trade in securities listed on the BSE according to the Bourse trading system and also lists the issuing companies (called "Listed companies") that have any of their stocks or other financial instruments listed. Beirut Stock Exchange, the second oldest market in the region, was established in 1920 by a decree of the French commissioner. Trading at that time was concentrated on gold and currency transactions, however, in the 1930s there was an inflow of French, Syrian and local Lebanese investment which made it possible for the BSE to flourish, especially with the establishment of mixed Lebanese-French joint stock companies that were quoted simultaneously on the Paris and Beirut Stock Exchanges. The activity in the 1950s and 1960s increased with the enlisting of various banking, industrial and services companies along with an amount of 50 listed bonds.
During the Lebanese Civil War trading activity halted in 1983. After 11 years a new administrating committee (in collaboration with the Bourse de Paris) re-launched the BSE with a new internal bylaw, re-structured and streamlined mechanisms, and trading systems. A new automated brokers system was introduced, based on the fixing price instead of the traditional OTC voice brokers. On November 22, 1996, the BSE officially re-launched the trading activity in its hall. The BSE and Bourse de Paris signed a cooperation agreement in June 1999 and the new European NSC-UNIX–Euronext system was set. In 2000, new forms of securities were listed such as GDR (Global Depository Receipt), investment funds shares, preferred stocks, priority shares, and any other tradable derivatives. In late 2006, the BSE launched a new Remote Trading System, allowing the brokers to trade with the securities listed on the BSE "remotely" from their own offices.
The 1958 Lebanon crisis was a Lebanese political crisis caused by political and religious tensions in the country that included a U.S. military intervention. The intervention lasted around three months until President Camille Chamoun, who had requested the assistance, completed his term as president of Lebanon. American and Lebanese government forces successfully occupied the port and international airport of Beirut. The crisis over, the United States withdrew shortly after. In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. Tensions with Egypt had escalated earlier in 1956 when pro-western President Camille Chamoun, a Christian, did not break diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These tensions were further increased when Chamoun showed closeness to the Baghdad Pact. Nasser felt that the pro-western Baghdad Pact posed a threat to Arab nationalism. As a response, Egypt and Syria united into the United Arab Republic (UAR). Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958. Karami formed a national reconciliation government after the 1958 crisis ended.
Lebanese Muslims pushed the government to join the newly created United Arab Republic, while the Christians wanted to keep Lebanon aligned with Western powers. A Muslim rebellion that was allegedly supplied with arms by the UAR through Syria caused President Chamoun to complain to the United Nations Security Council. The United Nations sent a group of inspectors that reported that it didn't find any evidence of significant intervention from the UAR. The toppling of a pro-Western government in Iraq's 14 July Revolution, along with the internal instability, caused President Chamoun to call for American assistance. The President of the United States, Eisenhower responded by authorizing Operation Blue Bat on July 15, 1958. This was the first application of the Eisenhower Doctrine under which the U.S. announced that it would intervene to protect regimes it considered threatened by international communism. The goal of the operation was to bolster the pro-Western Lebanese government of President Camille Chamoun against internal opposition and threats from Syria and Egypt. The plan was to occupy and secure the Beirut International Airport, a few miles south of the city, then to secure the port of Beirut and approaches to the city.
The chain of command for Operation Blue Bat was as follows: the Eisenhower administration at the strategic level; Specified Command, Middle East (SPECCOMME, a 'double-hat' for Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean) at the operational level; the Sixth Fleet, with aircraft carriers Saratoga, Essex, and Wasp, cruisers Des Moines and USS Boston, and two squadrons of destroyers. At the end of June Essex and Boston were anchored at Piraeus, Greece, while Des Moines, from which Vice Admiral Charles R. Brown was flying his flag, was at Villefranche-sur-Mer. Land forces included the 2nd Provisional Marine Force (Task Force 62) and the Army Task Force 201 at the tactical level. Each of these three components influenced Operations Plan 215-58 and its execution. The operation involved approximately 14,000 men, including 8,509 United States Army personnel, a contingent from the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 187th Infantry from the 24th Infantry Division (based in West Germany) and 5,670 officers and men of the United States Marine Corps (the 2nd Provisional Marine Force, of Battalion Landing Teams 1/8 and 2/2). The Second Battalion 8th Marines arrived on July 16 after a 54-hour airlift from Cherry Point, North Carolina. They were supported by a fleet of 70 ships and 40,000 sailors. On July 16, 1958, Admiral James L. Holloway, Jr., CINCNELM and CINCSPECCOMME, flew in from London to Beirut airport and boarded USS Taconic (AGC-17), from which he commanded the remainder of the operation. The U.S. withdrew its forces on October 25, 1958. President Eisenhower sent diplomat Robert D. Murphy to Lebanon as his personal representative. Murphy played a significant role in convincing both sides of the conflict to reach a compromise by electing moderate Christian general Fuad Chehab as incoming President while allowing Chamoun to continue in power until the end of his term on September 22.
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Canaanites/Phoenicians and their kingdom, a maritime culture that flourished for over a thousand years (c. 1550–539 BC). In 64 BC, the region came under the rule of the Roman Empire, and eventually became one of the Empire's leading centers of Christianity. In the Mount Lebanon range a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church was established. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region, the Maronites held onto their religion and identity. However, a new religious group, the Druze, established themselves in Mount Lebanon as well, generating a religious divide that has lasted for centuries. During the Crusades, the Maronites re-established contact with the Roman Catholic Church and asserted their communion with Rome. The ties they established with the Latins have influenced the region into the modern era.
The region eventually came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918. Following the collapse of the empire after World War I, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon were under the French Mandate of Lebanon. The French expanded the borders of the Mount Lebanon Governorate, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing a unique political system- confessionalism – a Consociationalism type of power sharing mechanism based on religious communities. Bechara El Khoury, first Lebanese president, Riad El-Solh, first Lebanese prime minister and Emir Majid Arslan II, first Lebanese minister of defense, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country's independence. Foreign troops withdrew completely from Lebanon on 31 December 1946. Lebanon is a member of the Organization internationale de la francophonie since 1973. Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s, and its capital Beirut attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East". At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.
Lebanon gained a measure of independence while France was occupied by Germany. General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon. After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941 General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by imprisoning the new government. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943.The allies occupied the region until the end of World War II. Following the end of World War II in Europe the French mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the part of the League of Nations or its successor the United Nations. The mandate was ended by the declaration of the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission to the United Nations.
Prince Talal Arslan
The Lebanese pound (LBP) is the currency unit of Lebanon. It is divided into 100 piasters but inflation has eliminated the subdivisions. The plural form of lira, as used on the currency, is either lirat or the same, whilst there are four forms for qirsh: the dual qirshan, the plural qirush used with numbers 3–10, the accusative singular qirsha used with 11–99, or the genitive singular qirshi used with multiples of 100. In both cases, the number determines which plural form is used. Note that before the Second World War, the Arabic spelling of the subdivision was ??? (girsh). All of Lebanon's coins and banknotes are bilingual in Arabic and French. Before World War I, the Ottoman lira was used. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the currency became the Egyptian pound in 1918. Upon gaining control of Syria and Lebanon, the French replaced the Egyptian pound with a new currency for Syria and Lebanon, the Syrian pound, which was linked to the French franc at a value of 1 pound = 20 francs. Lebanon issued its own coins from 1924 and banknotes from 1925. In 1939, the Lebanese currency was officially separated from that of Syria, though it was still linked to the French franc and remained interchangeable with Syrian money. In 1941, following France's defeat by Nazi Germany, the currency was linked instead to the British pound sterling at a rate of 8.83 Lebanese pounds = 1 pound sterling. A link to the French franc was restored after the war but was abandoned in 1949.
Before the Lebanese Civil War, 1 U.S. dollar was worth 3 pounds. During the civil war, the value decreased rapidly until 1992, when one dollar was worth over 2500 pounds. Subsequently the value increased again and since December 1997 the rate of the pound has been fixed at 1507.5 pounds per US$.
Denominations ran from 25 girsha through to 100 pounds. In 1939, the bank's name was changed to the Bank of Syria and Lebanon. The first 250-pound notes appeared that year. Between 1942 and 1950, the government issued "small change" paper money in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 girsh or qirsh (the change in spelling occurred during these years). After 1945, the Bank of Syria and Lebanon continued to issue paper money for Lebanon but the notes were denominated specifically in "Lebanese pounds" (???? ???????, livre libanaise) to distinguish them from Syrian notes. Notes for 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 pounds were issued. The Bank of Lebanon (Banque du Liban) was established by the Code of Money and Credit on 1 April 1964. On 1 August 1963 decree No. 13.513 of the “Law of References: Banque Du Liban 23 Money and Credit” granted the Bank of Lebanon the sole right to issue notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250 pounds, expressed in Arabic on the front, and French (livres) on the back. Higher denominations were issued in the 1980s and 1990s as inflation drastically reduced the currency's value.
|National Song||"Lebanese National Anthem"|
|Currency||Lebanese pound (LBP)|
|GDP||85.164 Billion USD|
|GDP Growth Rate||1 Percent|
|GDP Per Capita||$18524.557 (PPP)|
< 1.0% Hindus
< 1.0% Buddhists
< 1.0% Jews
< 1.0% Other Religions
President – Michel Aoun
President of the Council of Ministers – Saad Hariri
|Website||Go to the web|
|Public Debt||143.424 Percent|
|Unemployment Rate||6.784 Percent|
|Labor Force (Occupation)||-|