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Officially known as the Republic of Lebanon, Lebanon is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Syria to the east and north, and Israel to the south. Its location is one of strategic importance as it lies at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and Arab Hinterland in Western Asia.

According to the CIA Factbook, Lebanon covers a total area of 10,400 square kilometres and is the 69th largest country in the world. Estimates in 2010 put the population at 4,125,247 comprised primarily (95%) of Arabs and a small proportion (4%) of Armenian. The official language of the Lebanon is Arabic, although English, French and Armenian are also spoken.

The country has a population density of 404/km2 ranking it 25th versus other countries across the globe.

Modern Lebanon came into being following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, when France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of Syria. Having gained independence in 1943, the country established a Confessionalist parliamentary republic which shared power between dominant religious communities. Lebanon has 6 administrative divisions known as Mohafazah’s; Beqaa, Beirut, Liban Nord, Liban Sud, Mont Liban and Nabatiye. The current chief of state is President Michel Suleiman who was elected to power in May 2008.

The currency of the Lebanon is the Lebanese pound (LBP) which is comprised of 100 piastres.

Lebanon participates in a number of international organisations including The United Nations, WTO and IMF.


The CIA estimated Lebanon’s GDP in 2009 at $34.53 billion and a GDP (PPP) $53.9 billion, ranking it 89th in comparison to the rest of the world.

The Lebanese economy flourished in the years following its independence, building a reputation as the “Switzerland of the East”. The civil war (1975-1990) seriously damaged the country’s infrastructure and dramatically cut national output. Today, Lebanon is beginning to thrive once again driven by a service led economy (est. 77.8% of GDP) and a strong industrial sector (6.9% of GDP).

The country’s main industries are tourism, banking, food processing, wine, jewellery, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining and metal fabricating.

With the largest proportion of cultivatable land in the Arabic speaking world, agriculture continues to play a large role in Lebanon’s economy with citrus fruits, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco and meats all being produced.

Lebanon’s commodities include jewellery, base metals, chemicals, consumer goods and textiles are exported primarily to Syria 26%, UAE 14% and Saudi Arabia 7%.

Lebanon also imports a number of products, primarily petroleum, cars, clothing and chemicals with 11% coming from France, 9% USA, 9% Syria, 7% Italy, 7% China % and 5% Germany.


The civil war destroyed much of Lebanon’s infrastructure, although significant government investment over the past decade has helped re-build it back up to almost pre-war standards. The country is primarily connected by a large road network which runs over 6,970 kilometres and includes 170 kilometres of expressways. Lebanon also has a railway that stretches for some 40 kilometres, although is currently not in use due to damage caused by conflict in 2006.

Major cities in Lebanon enjoy a large fleet of buses run by the Lebanese Commuting Company (LCC) and the government owned OCFTC, whilst long distance buses run frequently to neighbouring Jordan and Syria.

According to the CIA factbook in 2010, Lebanon has 7 airports across the country, 5 of which of which have paved runways. The largest airport is Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport which is located around 9km south of the main city centre. As one of the largest aviation hubs in the Middle East, the airport operates flights to and from major cities all over the world. In 2008 it was estimated that airport moved 4,004, 972 passengers and 71,965 metric tons of cargo.

Lebanon also operates two main ports of Beirut and Tripoli. Beirut Port is one of the main points of entry to the country and is one of the largest and busiest ports in the Eastern Mediterranean. Official statistics in 2009 estimated that Beirut port handled over 5.5 million tons of cargo per year.


The CIA Factbook in 2007 estimated Lebanon’s labour force at 1.481 million, with an addition of around 1 million foreign workers. The majority of the work force is thought to be employed by the services sector, followed by a smaller proportion (26%) in industry. The remaining 12% work in agriculture producing vegetables, fruits and meat products.

The labour force is predominantly Arab with the remainder comprised of Armenian and Asian people.

Lebanon benefits from a skilled workforce that is a result of an established education system. The Lebanese education system follows an IB curriculum that is designed by the Ministry of Education, with private schools being granted the right to teach a range of additional subjects. All primary and secondary education is free and compulsory, whilst following secondary school students can choose to study at university, college or a vocational training institute. The country has around 4 nationally accredited universities, several of which (including The American University of Beirut) are internationally recognised. The government’s emphasis on education has resulted in a literacy rate of 87%, which is highest (93%) amongst males.

In 2007 the CIA factbook estimated the level of unemployment in Lebanon at 9.2%.

Business Costs

In Lebanon the income tax on corporate profit varies depending on the legal stature of the company.
Sole proprietorship and General partnership are taxed at progressive rates between 4% and 21%. Capital companies such as joint stock corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies are taxed at a flat rate of 15%.

Capital Gains tax is set at a fixed rate of 10%, although gains are exempt when all or a proportion of them are invested in the construction of housing for company staff.

VAT applies to the import and the supply of goods and services in Lebanon and is set at a rate of 10%. A number of essential goods and services are exempt from the tax.

Personal income tax is imposed on all wages earned in Lebanon and work off a progressive scale of between 2% and 20% depending on the income bracket.

The country operates a number of treaties with a number of Arab and Non Arab nations to avoid double taxation.

The official minimum wage is set at LBP 300,000 per month (or approximately US$ 200). Average salaries and wages vary depending on the sector and the profession.

According to Cushman & Wakefield research Beirut office rental had an average cost of $45.91 per square ft per year inside the CBD.
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