Religion in Lebanon
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. The main two religions are Islam (Shia and Sunni) with 54% of followers and Christianity (the Maronite Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church) with 40.4% 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).
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.
Population by religious affiliation
No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (i.e. religious) balance. 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 54% Muslim (27% Shia; 27% Sunni), 5.6% Druze, who do not consider themselves to be Muslims, 40.4% Christian (21% 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).
The CIA World Factbook estimates the following: Muslim 54% (27% Shia, 27% Sunni), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% Maronite Catholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite, 1% Protestant, 5.5% other Christian), Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hindus, and Mormons.
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems provides source for the registered voters in Lebanon for 2011 (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 27.65 %, Shia Islam 27.34%, Maronite Catholic 21.05%, 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 54% of the population (Shias, Sunnis, Alawites). Legally registered Christians form up to 41% (Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Melkites, Armenians, Evangelical Protestants, other). Druze form around 5%.
Current political and religious issues
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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.
Geographical distribution of sects in Lebanon
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).
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.
Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Nejme Square
- Christianity in Lebanon
- Islam in Lebanon
- Secularism in Lebanon
- Irreligion in Lebanon
- Freedom of religion in Lebanon
- Freemasonry in Lebanon
- Demographics of Lebanon
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