Country Profile


Lebanon’s estimated population in 2008 was 3.76 million (National Survey of Households Living Conditions, 2007), excluding the Palestinians in refugee camps. Of the total population, the Lebanese account for 93.4 percent. Household size ranges between 3.9 and 4.9. Annual population growth rate is estimated at 1.3 percent in 1975-2005 (Human Development Report 2007/08). Total fertility rate is below replacement level e.g. 1.9 children per woman (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004), with around 37.2 percent below age 20, and 7.4 percent of age 65 and older (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004). Almost 24 percent of women aged 35-39 are never married, the highest in the Arab region (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004). Life expectancy at birth is 71.5 years (Arab Human Development Report, 2009).. Illiteracy rate (10 years and above) was 9.3 percent in 2007, with 14 percent among females compared to 6.6 percent among males (Living Conditions of Households, Lebanon, 2007).

Economic Status

Lebanon is a middle-income country. The GDP per capita is 8,175 (PPP current $) (World Development Indicators for 2009). Of the total population residing in Lebanon, the labor force percentage is 32.2 percent and the economic activity rate for the age group 15 years and above is 44 percent with 68.9 percent for males and 20.4 percent for females (Living Conditions of Household Survey, Lebanon, 2004) . Unemployment rate stands at 8 percent with 9.6 percent for females and 7.4 percent for males (Living Conditions of Household Survey, Lebanon, 2004).

Social Conditions

Regarding Human Development Index, Lebanon is high human development country. Lebanon's HDI value rose from 0.692 in 1990 to 0.803 in 2007 (UNDP Human Development Report, 2009). The percentage of deprived households dropped from 30.9 percent (6.8 percent of those living in extreme deprivation) in 1998 to 24.6 percent in 2004/05 and whereby 5.2 percent of the latter live in extreme deprivation (Living Conditions of Households Survey, Lebanon, 2004). Still, social and economic regional disparities exist, with poverty pockets including urban poor. These are manifested in terms of educational attainment, gender disparities, health status, fertility behaviour, unemployment, child labour, purchase power, and participation issues particularly as it relates to women, youth and other vulnerable groups.

Lebanon’s development process has been challenged by ongoing internal conflicts including Israeli aggressions in 2006 resulting in massive internal displacement of a quarter of the population, large-scale destruction of infrastructure, and loss of lives and material. In 2007 and 2008, the country instability was intensified through major conflicts witnessed in the North as well as the capital city Beirut.

Gender Equality

In spite of solid achievements in Gender Equality, Equity and Empowerment of Women, much remains to be pursued building on achievements and lessons learned. In education, 83.3 percent of women are literate and school enrolment ratios of girls to boys at primary levels is equal (Living Conditions of Household Survey, Lebanon, 2004). Access of Lebanese women to national decision-making and their participation in political life remains weak. Slight improvement was witnessed whereby the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament in 2009 was 3.1 compared to 2.3 in 1995-2000. Representation of women also increased in municipal councils as percentage of seats held by women was 4.6 percent in 2010 compared to 1.9 percent in 2004 (Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections, Lebanon). In 2005, two women held, for the first time, ministerial posts however the most recent cabinet (June 2011) did not witness any women minister.

Lebanon has not yet lifted its reservations on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the existing family laws still discriminates against women. Though recently there has been an increased number of victims of violence who have sought support, still women rarely request adequate legal or other protection against the different forms of violence. Furthermore, there is lack of protection and referral systems as well as cultural barriers to reporting of violence. More so, services provided by few NGOs are not available across all regions of the country. Several breakthroughs were noted in the fight against Gender Based Violence. Recent ministerial statements in 2009 and 2011 clearly articulated the need to end violence and secure women’s rights. In April 2010, a draft law for protecting women against domestic violence was submitted and approved by the Council of Ministers and referred to the Parliament for ratification. Additionally, a ten-year National Women's Strategy in Lebanon was reviewed and adopted in a national validation meeting in March 2011 to be followed by an action plan.

Reproductive Health and Rights

Government spending in the social sector is relatively moderate, where approximately 8.1 percent of the GDP goes to the health sector (WHO Global Health Observatory for 2009). Contraceptive prevalence rate is estimated at 58 percent, of which 34 percent modern contraceptives, primarily IUDs, pills and condoms (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004). Antenatal care and attended deliveries in Lebanon are universal. Almost 96 percent of pregnant women received care during pregnancy, and attended birth was almost 98 percent of deliveries (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004) though some regional disparities still exist. However, only about 52 percent of women received post-natal care. Maternal mortality ratio dropped from the observed level of 140 and 107 per 100,000 live births in 1990 and 1993 respectively to 86.3 in 2004 (Pan Arab Project for Family Health, Lebanon, 2004). Almost 34 percent suffered from one or more health complications, partially due to miscarriages, noting that maternal morbidity is prevalent.


Awareness of STI/HIV/AIDS prevention is very high in Lebanon (91 percent) (National AIDS Programme, Lebanon) although 20 percent of students had never heard of HIV/AIDS (Global School- Based Health Survey, Lebanon, 2005). Despite the fact that Lebanon is considered a low prevalence country, still there are indications of clearly defined pockets of concentrated epidemic with population at risk thus representing major challenge to be addressed in order to halt potential rapid spread of epidemic. Estimated cumulative number of reported HIV/AIDS cases stood at 1346 cases by November 2010 with 18 percent less than 30 years old. Of the 1346 reported HIV/AIDS cases, 89 percent occurred among males and 11 percent among females (National AIDS Programme, Lebanon, 2010). An estimated 6.7 percent had contracted STI despite the absence of an STI surveillance system (Global School- Based Health Survey, Lebanon, 2005).


Young people are at high risk in Lebanon whereby 19.5 percent had at least one drink containing alcohol in the month preceding a survey (Global School- Based Health Survey, Lebanon, 2005). Drug use is reported to be common among young people though there is absence of national data. Related to violence, 40 percent of students were physically attacked by a parent, and 25 percent by a teacher. Half have been in a physical fight one or more times in the last year. Mental health was the most distressing where almost 40 percent of students felt so sad or hopeless in the last 12 months that they stopped doing their usual activities. An estimated 16 percent seriously considered suicide (Global School-Based Health Survey, Lebanon, 2005).

More statistics and indicators on population and reproductive health in Lebanon.

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Latest update: 1/10/2012