Lebanon -the Country of Middle East Records- May Lose Half of Its Population!

Human Wrongs Watch

Beirut, 9 December 2014 (HWW) — Lebanon is undoubtedly a country of records. This small State (10,452 km2) is home to 5,2 million nationals (3,9 million are residents and 1,3 million living abroad), comprising 18 recognised religious groups. Meanwhile, it hosts the highest ratio per capita of refugees on Earth with one million registered Syrians fleeing war in their country. And it has been without president for 199 days today. Now Lebanon may lose half of its people.

*Image: Protests in Beirut | Author: Shakeeb Al-Jabri | Wikimedia Commons

*Protests in Beirut | Author: Shakeeb Al-Jabri | Wikimedia Commons

According to a new survey (in Arabic) carried out by Information International, more than 25 percent of all Lebanese have already migrated while another 25 per cent is waiting for obtaining entry visa to different foreign countries.

Another striking outcome of the study is that a vast majority of migrants and ready-to-migrant are young and or university graduated.

In fact, it is estimated that about 46 percent of immigrants are University graduates and near 83 percent are young, which means that number of university graduated who traveled abroad in the last three years would be equivalent to the total number of university graduates in the same period. This would simply imply that all graduates have left Lebanon!

The Beirut-based research consultancy firm also reports that the desire to migrate includes all Lebanese communities, though it is relatively high among Muslims, especially Sunnis and Alawites, compared to Christians.

Meanwhile, some Lebanese demographic studies go further, estimating that real figures of migrants and ready-to-migrate exceed those of Information International, as they cover a wider criteria.

This phenomena has been aggravated by the fact that, since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis four years ago, the demographic challenges in Lebanon have been approached in the wrong way, according to local demographic experts.

Migration Trends

Another striking fact concerns the Lebanese migration path: since 1975 until the present day –with a peak in the last three years- the number of those who left Lebanon, whether permanently or temporarily, has been of 174,704 Lebanese, representing an annual average rate of 58, 234 Lebanese, compared to 14,560 per year during the period 1995-2010), this implying an increase of 300 percent.

The fact that about 83 percent of all migrants are young means that some 25 percent of Lebanese youth have already emigrated.

It is also noted that the population group ranging between 20 years and 44 years makes up to 38 percent of Lebanese population; among migrants, this group represents 82.6 percent of the total.

Migrants Preferred Countries 

Canada comes at the forefront of countries that Lebanese wish to emigrate to it, being the destination which 13 percent of respondents wanting to immigrate to, followed by Australia (8 percent), European countries (7 percent), the United States (7 percent), Germany (5 percent), France (4 percent), Sweden (3 percent), and other countries (13 percent).

**Avenue de Paris promenade known as Corniche Beirut | Author: Varun Shiv Kapur from Berkeley, United States | Wikimedia Commons

**Avenue de Paris promenade known as Corniche Beirut | Author: Varun Shiv Kapur from Berkeley, United States | Wikimedia Commons

The Lebanese Religious Mosaic

Lebanon has the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East, comprising 18 recognised religious sects. 

The main two religions are Christianity (Maronite Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Melkite Catholic Church, Protestant Church, Armenian Apostolic Church) and Islam (Shia and Sunni).

The most recent study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, has estimated that Lebanon’s population is composed by Muslims representing some 54% of the total (27% Shia; 27% Sunni); Druze (5.6% Druze).

Meanwhile, Christians represent 40.4% of Lebanese population, comprising 21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Melkite Catholic, 1% Protestant and 5.4% other Christian denominations like Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt.

A demographic study conducted by the research firm Statistics Lebanon found that approximately 27% of the population was Sunni, 27% Shi’a, 21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Druze, and 5% Greek Catholic, with the remaining 7% mostly belonging to smaller Christian denominations.


Meanwhile, around 65% of the Lebanese workforce is employed in the services sector, with 12% of the country’s labour force dedicated to agriculture. Industry represents a small faction in the Lebanese labour market.

According to Information International, Lebanese public debt rose from $ 2.8 billion in 1993 to $ 65.6 billion in July 2014, but banks’ profits increased from $ 150 million to $ 1.6 billion in 2013 only.

Information International, which conduced the survey, is a leading Beirut-based research consultancy firm, founded with the awareness that a vacuum exists in the field of survey research, database collection and analysis in the Arab World and particularly the Near East and Arabian Peninsula.

*Image: Protests in Beirut | Author: Shakeeb Al-Jabri | Wikimedia Commons

**Image: Avenue de Paris promenade known as Corniche Beirut | Author: Varun Shiv Kapur from Berkeley, United States | Wikimedia Commons

Read also:

Lebanon Hosts the Highest Ratio Per Capita of Refugees in the World

Lebanon-Syria, ‘The Refugee Minefield’

Migrant Workers in Lebanon – Playing for Equality

Lebanon — Milk for Health and… Wealth 

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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