Lebanese people
الشعب اللبناني‎
Lebanese people
Total population
Lebanon: 4,017,095 (All ethnic groups)

Total worldwide: 15-22 million[1]

Regions with significant populations
Brazil Brazil 7,000,000 [2]
Lebanon Lebanon 4,130,000 [3]
Argentina Argentina 1,500,000 [4]
United States United States 440,000 [5]

Lebanese Arabic
Spanish, English, Portuguese


other religions

Related ethnic groups

Arameans, Arabs, other Semitic ethnic groups

The Lebanese people (Arabic: الشعب اللبناني‎ al-sha‘ab al-lubnānī) (French: peuple libanais) are the inhabitants of the country of Lebanon and their ancestors. The term may also include those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state.

The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a rich blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years. Like other nationalities from Arab World, the Lebanese nationality and people contains many components that qualify them as an ethnic group.


The name Lebanon comes from the Semitic root LBN (Arabic: لبن), meaning "white", likely a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon.

Occurrences of the name have been found in different texts from the library of Ebla[6], which date to the third millennium BC, nearly 70 times in the Hebrew Bible, and three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh (perhaps as early as 2100 BC).[7]

The name is recorded in Ancient Egyptian as Rmnn, where R stood for Canaanite L.[8]


Main Article:History of Lebanon at

Ancient LebanonEdit

Evidence of an early settlement in Lebanon was found in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world,[9] and date back to earlier than 5000 BC. Archaeologists discovered remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars left by the Neolithic and

Map of Phoenicia and trade routes

Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.[10]

Lebanon was a part of northern Canaan, and consequently became the homeland of Canaanite descendants – the Phoenicians, a seafaring people that spread across the Mediterranean before the rise of Cyrus the Great.[11] Their most famous colonies were Carthage in today’s Tunisia and Cádiz in today’s Spain. The Phoenicians are best known as the inventors of the alphabet, among many other things. After two centuries of Persian rule, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great attacked and burned Tyre, the most prominent Phoenician city. Throughout the subsequent centuries leading up to recent times, the country became part of numerous succeeding major empires.

Christianization and IslamizationEdit

The region that is now Lebanon, as with the rest of Syria and much of Anatolia, became a major center of Christianity in the Roman Empire during the early spread of the religion. During the late 4th and early 5th century, a hermit named Maron established a monastic tradition, focused on the importance of monotheism and ascetisism, near the Syrian mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. The monks who followed Maron spread his teachings among the Syrians in the region. These Christians came to be known as Maronites and moved into mountains to
Fall of Tripoli

The Fall of Tripoli to the Egyptian Mamluks and destruction of the Crusader state, the County of Tripoli, 1289

avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities.[12]

During the 11th century the Druze faith emerged from a branch of Shia Islam. The new faith gained followers in the southern portion of Mount Lebanon. The Northern portion of Mount Lebanon was ruled by Shia feudel families to the early 14th century that ended by Mamluk's invasion. The Maronites population increased than gradually in Northern Mount Lebanon and the Druze remain in the Southern Mount Lebanon until the modern era. The South of current Lebanon (Jabal Amel), Baalbek and The Beqaa Valley was ruled by The Shia feudel families under Mamluk and Ottoman Empire. The major cities on the coast, Acre, Beirut, and others, were directly administered by the Muslim Caliphs and the people became more fully absorbed by Arab culture.

Following the fall of Roman/Christian Anatolia to the Muslim Turks, the Romans put out a call to the Pope in Rome for assistance in the 11th century. The result was a series of wars known as the Crusades launched by the Franks in Western Europe to reclaim the former Roman territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria and Palestine (the Levant). The First Crusade succeeded in temporarily establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli as Roman Catholic Christian states along the coast.[13] These crusader states made a lasting impact on the region though their control was limited and the region returned to full Muslim control after two centuries following the conquest by the Mamluks.

Ottoman Rule and French MandateEdit

See also: Emirate of Mount Lebanon, Sidon Eyalet, and Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate

During this period current Lebanon was dividied to several provinces. The Northern and Southern Mount Lebanon, Tripoli, Baalbek and Beqaa Valley and Jabal Amel. In the Southern Mount Lebanon in 1590, Fakhr-al-Din II
Fakhreddine II Palace

Fakhreddine II Palace, 17th century

became successor to Korkmaz. He soon established his authority as paramount prince of the Druze in the Shouf area of Mount Lebanon. Eventually, Fakhr-al-Din II was appointed Sanjakbey (Governor) of several Ottoman sub-provinces, with responsibility for tax-gathering. He extended his control over a substantial part of Mount Lebanon and its coastal area, even building a fort as far inland as Palmyra.[14] This over-reaching eventually became too much for Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, who sent a punitive expedition to capture him in 1633. He was taken to Istanbul, kept in prison for two years and then executed along with one of his sons in April 1635.[15] Surviving members of Fakhr al-Din's family ruled a reduced area under closer Ottoman control until the end of the

1862 map drawn by the French expedition of Beaufort d'Hautpoul,[16] later used as a template for the 1920 borders of Greater Lebanon.[17]

seventeenth century. On the death of the last Maan emir, various members of the Shihab clan ruled Mount Lebanon until 1830. Approximately 10,000 Christians were killed by the Druzes during inter-communal violence in 1860.[18] Shortly afterwards, the Emirate of Mount Lebanon that lasted about 400 years was replaced by the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, as a result of a European-Ottoman treaty called the Règlement Organique. The Baalbek and Beqaa Valley and Jabal Amel was ruled intermittently by various Shia feudal families especially the Al Ali Alsagheer in Jabal Amel that remain in power until 1865 when Ottomans took direct ruling of the region.

In 1920, following WWI, the area of the Mutasarrifate, plus some surrounding areas which were predominantly Shia and Sunni, became a part of the state of Greater Lebanon under the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon. In the first half of 1920, Lebanese territory was claimed as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, but shortly the Franco-Syrian War resulted in Arab defeat and capitulation of the Hashemites. By the end of the war, famine had killed an estimated 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, about 30% of the total population.[19]

On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria.[20] Lebanon was a largely Christian country (mainly Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox enclaves) but it also included areas containing many Muslims (including Druze).[citation needed] On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926 establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.


Brations marking the release by the French of Lebanon's government from Rashayya prison on November 22, 1943, the day of Lebanon's independence Adib Ibrahim

Martyrs' Square in Beirut during celebrations marking the release by the French of Lebanon's government from Rashayya prison on November 22, 1943

Lebanon gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany.[21] 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.

Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.[22]

Civil Wars and Political StrifesEdit

Main article: Lebanese Civil War 

In 1975, following increasing sectarian tensions, a full-scale civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War pitted a coalition of Christian groups against the joint forces of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), left-wing Druze and Muslim militias. In June 1976 Syria sent in its own troops, ostensibly to restore peace. In October 1976 the Arab League agreed to establish a predominantly Syrian Arab Deterrent Force, which was charged with restoring calm.[23]

In 1982, the PLO presence in Lebanon led to an Israeli invasion. A multinational force of American, French and Italian contingents (joined in 1983 by a British contingent) were deployed in Beirut after the Israeli siege of the city, to supervise the evacuation of the PLO. It returned in September 1982 after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel and subsequent fighting, during which a number of massacres were committed, such as in Damour,[24] in Sabra and Shatila,[25] and in several refugee camps.[26] The multinational force was withdrawn in the spring of 1984, following a devastating bombing attack during the previous year.



Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that "Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French language may be used".[27] The majority of Lebanese people speak Lebanese Arabic, while Modern Standard Arabic is mostly used in magazines, newspapers, and formal broadcast media. Lebanon is a member of the Arab League, a geographical and political alliance of nations in the Middle East and North Africa that designate Arabic as an official language or the sole official language in any degree, it is an Arab state.

French, Spanish and PortugueseEdit

Almost 40% of Lebanese are considered francophone, and another 15% "partial francophone," and 70% of Lebanon's secondary schools use French as a second language of instruction.[28] By comparison, English is used as a secondary language in 30% of Lebanon's secondary schools.[29] The use of French is a legacy of the post-World War I League of Nations mandate over Lebanon given to France; as of 2004, some 20% of the population used French on a daily basis.[30] The use of Arabic by Lebanon's educated youth is declining, as they prefer to speak in French and English.[31][32] The use of Arabic among the Lebanese diaspora is almost non-existant, as descendants of Lebanese migrants in Latin America know only Spanish or Portuguese (within Brazil), their knowledge of Arabic is limited to a little or no words at all.


English is increasingly used in science and business interactions.[33] As of 2007 the presence of English in Lebanon has increased.[34] Lebanese people of Armenian, Assyrian, or Greek descent often speak Western Armenian, Neo-Aramaic, or Greek with varying degrees of fluency. There are currently around 150,000 Armenians in Lebanon, or around 5% of the population.[35] Like the Latin American diaspora, the Lebanese American diaspora in the United States mostly only speaks English with very little fluent Arabic speakers.


Main articles: Religion in Lebanon, Freedom of religion in Lebanon, and Secularism in Lebanon 

Collectively, most Lebanese people and diaspora populations in the world of Lebanese descent are Christian. The country of Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East.[36] The CIA World Factbook estimates that the population is 59.7% Muslim and 39% Christian, with other religions and non-believers accounting for the remaining 1.3%.[37] A study conducted by the Lebanese Information Center and based on voter registration numbers shows that by 2011 the Christian population fell to 34.35%, while the Muslims rose to 65.47%.[38]

Over the past 60 years, there has been a steady decline in the ratio of Christians to Muslims, due to higher emigration rates of Christians, and a higher birth rate in the Muslim population.[39] When the last census was held in 1932, Christians made up 53% of Lebanon's population.[40]  In 1956 it was estimated that the population was 54% Christian and 44% Muslim.[41]

Most of the Lebanese diaspora is Christian.


Main article: Culture of Lebanon 

The culture of Lebanon is the cross culture of various civilizations over thousands of years. Originally home to the

Temple of Bacchus is considered one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world, c. 150 AD

Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon's diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country's festivals, musical styles and literature as well as cuisine.


Lebanese cuisine is a Levantine and Mediterranean cuisine that is one of the most popular in the Arab World.  Lamb, chicken and beef are the top staple meats in the Arab countries, especially in Lebanon. The popular kebab,


a dish consisting of skewered meats or vegetables; has origins in the Middle East. The Arab salad known as the tabbouleh is made of bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion, couscous and garlic and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Hummus (Arabic: حُمُّص‎) is a popular dip in the Levantine region that is made from mashed chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and sauce known as tahini (Arabic: طحينه‎). Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds, it is famous all across the Arab World. Baba ghanoush is like hummus, only that it is made from egg plant. Atayef bil ashta is a popular pancake-like food from Lebanon. The pancake is folded and filled with custards and other pastes. Falafel (Arabic: فلافل) is a deep-fried vegetable dish, which also another popular Levantine dish. Chickpeas and fava beans are mashed into balls and deep-fried, making the food appear to be meatballs - although it is an entirely


vegetable dish. Like hummus, falafel is also very popular and is considered a national dish in Lebanon and Israel. The pita flatbread is served with almost every meal. Dolma is a vegetable dish, which is usually stuffed and made from tomato, pepper, onion and zucchini.  Baklava (Turkish: باقلوا), is a nut-flavored pastry. The pastry is made with layers of filo and is also eaten in many Eastern European countries that were former Ottoman territory, that includes Lebanon. Pilaf is a Turkish rice dish that is also eaten in Lebanon and around the Arab World. Since Lebanon is home to a large Christian populace by percentage, alcoholic drinks are widely made in Lebanon. Islamic food laws are known as Halal (Arabic: حلال), which means "permissable" in Arabic. Halal laws forebid Muslims from eating swine meat (pork) or drinking alcohol, lest it be a sick or dying person in desperation. Therefore, pork is absent in Lebanese cuisine. Even the Christians do not eat pork as the use of swine meat was simply not part of the culinary history of the Arab World. 

Lemon juice is also a common seasoning for Lebanese dishes. Kofta is a sausage-like dish that is grilled.

Notable Lebanese People or of Lebanese OriginEdit

Estephan El-Douaihy

Estephan El Douihy

Bashir Shihab II

Bashir Shihab II

Youssef Karam


Charbel Makhluf

Charbel Makhluf

Elias Hoayek

Elias Hoayek

Gibran Kahlil Gibran


Tony Kanaan

Tony Kanaan

Mohammad Fadlallah

Mohammad Fadlallah



Rafic Hariri

Rafic Hariri

Amin Maalouf

Amin Maalouf

Haifa Whehbe

Haifa Wehbe

Youssef Mohamad

Youssef Mohamad

Philip Khuri Hitti


Ameen Rihani

Ameen Rihani

Myriam Feres

Myriam Fares

Rimah Fakih


May Ziade

May Ziade

Nancy Ajram

Nancy Ajram



Ralph Nader


Salma Hayek


Shannon Elizabeth


Carlos Slim

Carlos Slim

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn 2


  1. Foreign & Commonwealth Office. "Country Profile: Lebanon" (governmental). FCO. Retrieved 2009-12-25
  2. "News :: Politics :: Sleiman meets Brazilian counterpart, Lebanese community". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  3. CIA, the World Factbook (2006). "Lebanon". Retrieved March 8, 2009.
  4. "Argentinian President's visit to the Lebanese Parliament". The Lebanese Parliament. 7 June 2007
  6. Metzger, Bruce M.; Coogan, Michael D. (2004). The Oxford guide to people & places of the Bible. Oxford University Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-19-517610-3.  |accessdate= requires |url= (help) </li>
  7. Bienkowski, Piotr; Millard, Alan Ralph (2000). Dictionary of the ancient Near East. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8122-3557-9 </li>
  8. Ross, Kelley L. "The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian". The Proceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series. Friesian School. Retrieved 20 January 2009 </li>
  9. Dumper, Michael; Stanley, Bruce E.; Abu-Lughod, Janet L. (2006). Cities of the Middle East and North Africa. ABC-CLIO. p. 104. ISBN 1-57607-919-8. "Archaeological excavations at Byblos (Jbeil) indicate that the site has been continually inhabited since at least 5000 B.C."   </li>
  10. "Archaeological Virtual Tours: Byblos". Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008 </li>
  11. "Lebanon in Ancient Times". 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2013-01-17. </li>
  12. Dalrymple, William (1997). From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East. Vintage Books (Random House). p. 305. ISBN 9780307948922. </li>
  13. Hillenbrand, Carole (2000). The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives. Psychology Press. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-1-57958-354-5. </li>
  14. T.J. Gorton (25 April 2013). Renaissance Emir. Quartet Books. pp. 160–161. ISBN 9780704372979. </li>
  15. T.J. Gorton (25 April 2013). Renaissance Emir. Quartet Books. pp. 195–210. ISBN 9780704372979. </li>
  16. Hakim, Carol (2013). The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea, 1840-1920. University of California Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-520-27341-2. Retrieved 2013-04-02. </li>
  17. Kais Firro (2003-02-08). Inventing Lebanon: Nationalism and the State Under the Mandate. I.B.Tauris. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-86064-857-1. Retrieved 2013-04-02. </li>
  18. "Lebanon". Library of Congress Country Studies. December 1987. </li>
  19. Abdul-Ilah Saadi. "Dreaming of Greater Syria". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2013-01-17. </li>
  20. Chorbishop Seely Beggiani. "Aspects of Maronite History (Part Eleven) The twentieth century in Western Asia". Retrieved 2013-01-17. </li>
  21. "Glossary: Cross-Channel invasion". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 17 October 2009 </li>
  22. "Background Note: Lebanon". Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. U.S. Department of State. January 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2010. </li>
  23. "Country Profile: Lebanon". British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. </li>
  24. Noam Chomsky, Edward W. Said (1999): Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, South End Press, 1999, pp. 184–185 </li>
  25. Robert Fisk, The Independent (2001-11-28). "Sabra and Chatila Massacres After 19 years, The Truth at Last?". Retrieved 2013-07-01 </li>
  26. </u>The War of the Camps, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 191–194 </li>
  27. Prof. Dr. Axel Tschentscher, LL.M. "Article 11 of the Lebanese Constitution". Retrieved 2013-01-17. </li>
  28. The Story of French. Macmillan. 2008. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-312-34184-8. Retrieved 14 December 2010. </li>
  29. The Story of French. Macmillan. 2008. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-312-34184-8. Retrieved 14 December 2010. </li>
  30. "Lebanon". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2011 </li>
  31. "Campaign to save the Arabic language in Lebanon". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2010. </li>
  32. "Arabic – a dying language?". Retrieved 25 June 2010 </li>
  33. Nadeau, Jean-Benoît; Jean-Benoît Nadeau, Julie Barlow (2006). Plus ça change. Robson. p. 483. ISBN 1-86105-917-5. Retrieved 26 January 2010. </li>
  34. Hodeib, Mirella (2007-01-19). "English assumes greater importance in Lebanese linguistic universe". Daily Star (Lebanon). Retrieved 2013-07-01. </li>
  35. Stokes, Jamie. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Facts On File, 2009, p. 406 ISBN 0816071586 </li>
  36. Dralonge, Richard N. (2008). Economics and Geopolitics of the Middle East. New York: Nova Science Publishers. p. 150. ISBN 1-60456-076-2. "Lebanon, with a population of 3.8 million, has the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East, comprising 17 recognized religious sects."   </li>
  37. Lebanon entry at The World Factbook </li>
  38. The Daily Star (February 7, 2013). "Study shows stable Christian population in Lebanon". The Daily Star. Retrieved April 13, 2013. </li>
  39. "Lebanon". International Religious Freedom Report 2010. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. </li>
  40. "The Lebanese Demographic Reality". Lebanese Information Center Lebanon. 2013-01-14. </li>
  41. "The Lebanese Demographic Reality". Lebanese Information Center Lebanon. 2013-01-14. </li></ol>