Religion in Lebanon

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Religion in Lebanon (est. 2016)

  Islam (51%)
  Christianity (45%)
  Druze (4%)
Graph showing a breakdown of the various main religious groups in Lebanon, 2008.

Lebanon has several different main religions. The country has the most religiously diverse society of all states within the Middle East, comprising 18 recognized religious sects.[1] The main two religions are Islam (Sunni and Shia) with 51% of followers and Christianity (the Maronite Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church) with 45% of followers. There is also the Druze minority religion, which under the Lebanese political division (Parliament of Lebanon Seat Allocation) the Druze community is designated as one of the five Lebanese Muslim communities (Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, and Ismaili).[2][2]

Lebanon thus differs from other Middle Eastern countries where the Muslims are overwhelming majority and more resembles Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania, both in Southeastern Europe, in having a diverse mix of Muslims and Christians that each make up approximately half the country's population.

  Islam (incl. Druze)
Breakdown of sects of Lebanon's religions
Religion/denomination Percent
Sunni Islam
26%
Shia Islam
25%
Maronite Catholic
24%
Greek Orthodox
8%
Melkite Catholic
5%
Druze
4%
Armenian Apostolic
4%
Protestants
1%
other Christian denomination minorities
2%

Population by religious affiliation[edit]

No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (i.e. religious) balance.[3][4] As a result, the religious affiliation of the Lebanese population is very difficult to establish with certainty and various sources are used to get the possible estimate of the population by religious affiliation.

The following are different sources that do not pretend to be fully representative of the religious affiliation of the people of Lebanon.

The most recent study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, found that approximately Lebanon's population is estimated to be 52% Muslim (26% Shia; 26% Sunni), 4% Druze, who are also Muslims, 44% Christian (23% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite, 1% Protestant and 5.4% other Christian denominations non-native to Lebanon like Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt).[5]

The CIA World Factbook estimates the following: Muslim 52% (26% Shia, 26% Sunni), Christian 44% (includes 23% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite, 1% Protestant, 4% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons.[6]

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems provides source for the registered voters in Lebanon for 2011[7] (it has to be noted that voter registration does not include people under 18 and unregistered voters) that puts the numbers as following: Sunni Islam 26.1 %, Shia Islam 26.1%, Maronite Catholic 23.8%, Greek Orthodox 7.34%, Druze 5.74%, Melkite Catholic 4.76%, Armenian Apostolic 2.64%, other Christian Minorities 1.28%, Alawite Shia Islam 0.88%, Armenian Catholic 0.62%, Evangelical Protestant 0.53%, and other 0.18% of the population.

Lebanon also has a Jewish population, estimated at less than 100.

Legally registered Muslims form around 52% of the population (Shias, Sunnis, Alawites). Legally registered Christians form up to 44% (Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Melkites, Armenians, Evangelical Protestants, other). Druze form around 4%.

Current political and religious issues[edit]

Listing the largest community in the Lebanese electorate, per qada and/or "minor district".
Green = Sunni
Purple = Shia
Blue = Druze
Yellow = Maronite
Orange = Greek Orthodox
Red = Armenian Orthodox

Under the terms of an agreement known as the National Pact between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, the president of the country must be a Maronite, the Prime Minister must be a Sunnite, and the Speaker of Parliament must be a Shiite.

Although Lebanon is a secular country, family matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance are still handled by the religious authorities representing a person's faith. Calls for civil marriage are unanimously rejected by the religious authorities but civil marriages conducted in another country are recognized by Lebanese civil authorities.

Non-religion is not recognized by the state, the Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud made it possible in 2009 to have the religious sect removed from the Lebanese identity card. This does not, however, deny the religious authorities complete control over civil family issues inside the country.[8][9]

Geographical distribution of sects in Lebanon[edit]

Estimated distribution of main religious groups, 1985, by the CIA
Lebanon religious groups distribution
An estimate of the area distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups
Maps of religion distribution in Lebanon

Lebanese Muslims[edit]

Lebanese Muslims[10][11][12][13][14][15]
Year Percent
1932
49%
1985
75%
2010
59%
2012
59.5%
Sects of Islam in Lebanon (2012)[16]
Muslim denomination percent
Sunni Muslims
27%
Shia Muslims
27%

Lebanese Muslims are divided into many sects like Sunnites, Shiites, Druze, Alawites, and Ismailis.

Lebanese Sunnites are mainly residents of the major cities: west Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon. Sunnis are also present in rural areas including Akkar, Ikleem al Kharoub, and the western Beqaa Valley.

Lebanese Shiites are concentrated in Southern Lebanon, Baalbek District, Hermel District and the south Beirut (southern parts of Greater Beirut).

Lebanese Druze are concentrated south of Mount Lebanon, in the Hasbaya District and Chouf District. Under the Lebanese political division (Parliament of Lebanon Seat Allocation) the Druze community is designated as one of the five Lebanese Muslim communities (Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, and Ismaili).[2][2]

Lebanese Christians[edit]

Lebanese Christians[10][11][12][13][14][15]
Year Percent
1932
51%
1985
25%
2010
41%
2012
40.5%
Sects of Christianity in Lebanon (2012)[16]
Christianity denomination percent
Maronite Catholic
21%
Greek Orthodox
8%
Melkite Catholic
5%
Armenian Orthodox
4%
Protestants
1%
other Christian minorities
2%

Lebanese Christians are divided into many sects, several types of Catholics for instance the Maronites and Greek Catholics (Melkites), Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox (among which are Syriacs, Armenians and Copts), Church of the East (Assyrians) and Protestants.

Lebanese Maronites are concentrated in the north Beirut (northern parts of Greater Beirut), northern part of Mount Lebanon Governorate, southern part of North Governorate, parts of Beqaa Governorate and South Governorate.[17]

Greek Catholics are found everywhere but in particular in districts on the eastern slopes of the Lebanese mountain range and in Zahle where they are a majority.

Lebanese Orthodox are concentrated in the north Beirut (northern parts of Greater Beirut), Lebanese North areas including Zgharta, Bsharre, Koura, and Batroun.

Lebanese Protestants are concentrated mainly within the area of Beirut and Greater Beirut.

The other Lebanese Christians are concentrated also in similar areas like in east Beirut (northern parts of Greater Beirut), Mount Lebanon, Zahlé, and Jezzine.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alfred B. Prados (June 8, 2006). "Lebanon" (PDF). The Library of Congress. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Inc, Ibp (3 March 2012). "Lebanon Country Study Guide Volume 1 Strategic Information and Developments". Int'l Business Publications. Retrieved 10 July 2016 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Lebanon: A Country Study". US Library of Congress. Section: Population.
  4. ^ Country Studies. "Lebanon Population". Retrieved November 25, 2006.
  5. ^ "Statistics Lebanon Beirut-based research firm".
  6. ^ "Lebanon". (Sept 2017 est.)
  7. ^ "Elections in Lebanon" (PDF). International Foundation for Electoral Systems. 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  8. ^ Piero Gheddo (2009-02-13) LEBANON Religious affiliation to disappear from Lebanese documents – Asia News. Asianews.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-26.
  9. ^ Religious Affiliation Can Be Removed From Lebanese ID Cards. Barcode Nation (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2013-09-26.
  10. ^ a b agency, united states. central intelligence. "Contemporary distribution of Lebanon's main religious groups". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  11. ^ a b [1]
  12. ^ a b [2]
  13. ^ a b "Lebanon". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Lebanon". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  15. ^ a b "The World Factbook". Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Middle East :: LEBANON". CIA The World Factbook.
  17. ^ Lebanon Maronites Overview World Directory of Minorities. June 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2013.