Last updated: July 2nd, 2021

The Lebanese Republic is located on the eastern Mediterranean Sea and covers about two-thirds of the size of Schleswig-Holstein. The population is about 6.1 million. It borders Israel in the south and Syria in the north and east. The capital Beirut is located directly on the Mediterranean coast in the west of the country and is home to the American University of Beirut (AUB), one of the world’s leading universities.

Lebanon is the ancient home of the Phoenicians. Their descendants today continue the long tradition as a trading nation. The country is organised as a market economy and there are close international ties due to the large number of Lebanese living abroad. Remittances from expatriate Lebanese have generally led to a degree of economic stability. The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report attests to the country’s improvement in business regulation and highlights in particular the improved enforceability of contracts.

The most important import goods include petroleum products, food, chemical products, and motor vehicles. Germany is one of the largest trading partners for Lebanon and especially vehicles there. Services in the tourism and communications sectors account for about a quarter of the GDP. Lebanon is very service-oriented overall.

The civil war in neighbouring Syria has left traces. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, there are about 950,000 refugees living in Lebanon; that is 15 percent of the total population – and the trend is downward. Increased use of the port of Beirut and a shift in maritime trade routes have created viable alternatives to previous flows of goods via Syria.  On August 4, 2020, however, a vast explosion destroyed the port of Beirut and parts of the city center. The most promising bid to rebuild the port came from Germany by Hamburg Port Consulting, Colliers International, the Fraunhofer Institute, and Roland Berger, financed by the European Investment Bank.

In October 2016, parliament elected Michel Aoun as the country’s new president after a two-and-a-half-year vacancy in the post. Aoun’s liberal Free Patriotic Movement emerged as the strongest force from the parliamentary elections in May 2018, in which a proportional representation system was used for the first time. Successive governments were unable to manage the domestic financial crisis that began in 2019. Prime Minister Hassan Diab formally resigned in the summer of 2020; no new government has been formed since.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the economy hard, which combined with the financial crisis caused the GDP to shrink by around 40 percent from 2019 to 2020 and the Lebanese pound to lose over 80 percent of its value against the dollar. A new government will be tasked with restructuring the public debt and the financial sector as well as building the economy and a social security system. Despite the difficult initial situation, more than one million vaccination doses against the coronavirus have already been administered in Lebanon.

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