Country Profile: Lebanon

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Lebanon Republic (Al Jumhuriyah al Lubnaniyah), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Lebanon’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.

Country Background

Lebanon is located in the Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon is a rather small country, roughly four times the size of Rhode Island. It is bounded by Israel, Syria, and the Palestinian Territories. The capital of Lebanon is Beirut. The official language is Arabic, though French is often used at the government level as well. The country’s population in 2017 was approximately 6.2 million. This includes a large refugee population, and in fact, one out of every four people in Lebanon is a refugee. Lebanon is a multi-religious country, with 54% of the population Muslim (27% Shīʿī and 27% Sunnī), 40.5% Christian (21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, and 6.5% other Christian), and 5.6% Druze. Lebanon is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.

Constitutional and Legal Structure

Lebanon is referred to as a parliamentary republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Although Lebanon’s Constitution was adopted in 1926, the country did not fully gain its independence from France until 1943. This independence was achieved largely due to the unwritten National Pact of 1943, which divided power between the legislative branch and the judicial branch. The National Pact transformed the Lebanese political system into a confessional state, where religious affiliation determines the extent of one’s political rights and privileges, and divided various state offices and leadership positions between Lebanon’s major ethno-religious groups. The terms of the National Pact are . . .

Read Lebanon’s profile.