Lebanon (Arabic: لبنان Lubnān), officially the Republic of Lebanon, is a small, largely mountainous country in the Middle East, located at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south, with a narrow coastline along its western edge. The flag of Lebanon features the Lebanon Cedar in green against a white backdrop, with two quarter-height horizontal red stripes on the top and bottom.
The name Lebanon (also "Loubnan" or "Lebnan") is derived from the Semitic root "LVN", meaning "white", a reference to snow-capped Mount Lebanon. In British English, the country has often traditionally been referred to with the definite article as the Lebanon, like the Ukraine or the Gambia, derived from the literal translation from the Hebrew "HaLevanon" (e.g Deuteronomy 3:25)
A Middle Eastern country, Lebanon is bordered on the west by the Mediterranean (Coast: 225 km; and to the east by the Syro-African Depression. Lebanon borders Syria for 375 kilometres to the north and to the east and Israel for 79 kilometres to the south. The border with Israel has been approved by the United Nations (see Blue Line (Lebanon)), although a small piece of land called Shebaa Farms located in the Golan Heights is claimed by Lebanon but occupied by Israel, who claim that it is actually Syrian land. The UN has officially declared this region to be Syrian and not Lebanese territory, but Hezbollah occasionally launches attacks against Israeli positions within it, under the banner of freeing Lebanese territory.
The population of Lebanon is composed of three predominant ethnic groups and religions: Muslims (Shi'ites, Sunnis, Alawites), Druze, and Christians (mostly Maronite Catholics, Melkite Greek Catholics, Armenian Catholics, some Syrian, Chaldean and Latin Rite Catholics, Arabic-speaking Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syrian Orthodox, and a few Assyrians, Copts and Protestants). No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (religious) balance. It is estimated that about 60% of the resident population are Muslims; the rest are Christians. There used to be a small minority of Jews, mostly living in the eastern region of Beirut. Also, a small community (less than 1%) of Kurds (also known as Mhallamis or Mardins) live in Lebanon. There are approximately 15 million people of Lebanese descent, mainly Christians, spread all over the world, Brazil being the country with the biggest Lebanese community abroad. Lebanese are of mixed descent. They possess Phoenicican, Aramaic/Syriac, Greek, Roman, European (Crusaders, mainly French) and Arabic elements. While 360,000 Palestinian refugees have registered in Lebanon with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since 1948, estimates of those remaining range between 180,000 and 250,000.
The urban population, concentrated mainly in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, is noted for its commercial enterprise. A century and a half of migration and return have produced Lebanese commercial networks around the globe from North and South America to Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Africa. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor compared with many other Middle Eastern countries.
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