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Lebanese people

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Lebanese people
Total population
Lebanon: 4,017,095[1]
Lebanese diaspora: 8[2]–14 million[3][4]
Regions with significant populations
 Brazil 1,000,000[5] - 6,000,000 - 7,000,000[6][7][8]
 Lebanon 4,130,000[1]
 Argentina 1,500,000[9]
 Colombia 700,000[10]
 United States 504,000[11]
 Mexico 400,000[12]
 Venezuela 340,000[13]
 Canada 250,000[14]
 France 225,000[15]
 Australia 203,139[16]
 Dominican Republic 80,000[17]
 United Arab Emirates 80,000[18]
 Uruguay 70,000[19]
 Germany 50,000[20]
 Senegal 30,000[21]
 Sierra Leone 33,000-40,000[22]
 South Africa 20,000[23]
 Cyprus 20,000[citation needed]
 Spain 11,820[15]
 United Kingdom 10,459[24]
 Israel 7,000[25]
 Liberia 4,000[26]
Languages
Spoken Vernacular
Lebanese Arabic & Cypriot Maronite Arabic[27]
Diaspora
French, English, Spanish, Portuguese
Religion

Islam (59.5%):2
(Shia,3 Sunni,3 Alawites, Ismailis, progressive Muslims[28] and Druze)4

Christianity (40.5%):1
(Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Melkite and Protestant)
Related ethnic groups
Other Semitic-speaking peoples

# Lebanese Christians of all denominations constitute the majority of all Lebanese worldwide, but represent only a large minority within Lebanon.
  1. Lebanese Muslims of all denominations represent a majority within Lebanon, but add up to only a large minority of all Lebanese worldwide.
  2. Shias and Sunnis account for 54% of Lebanon's population together, even split in half (27%).
  3. In Lebanon, the Druze quasi-Muslim sect is officially categorized as a Muslim denomination by the Lebanese government.

The Lebanese people (Arabic: الشعب اللبناني‎ / ALA-LC: ash-shaʻb al-Lubnānī  Lebanese Arabic pronunciation: [eʃˈʃaʕeb ellɪbˈneːne]) are the people inhabiting or originating from Lebanon. The term may also include those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state. The religious groups among the Lebanese people are Shias (27%), Sunnis (27%), Maronites (21%), Greek Orthodox (8%), Melkites (5%), Druze (5.6%), Protestants (1%).[29] There is a large diaspora in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa.

As the relative proportion of the various sects is politically sensitive, Lebanon has not collected official census data on ethnic background since the 1932 under the French Mandate. It is therefore difficult to have an exact demographic analysis of Lebanese society.[30] The largest concentration of people of Lebanese ancestry may be in Brazil having an estimated population of 5.8 to 7 million, but it may be an exaggeration, given that an official survey conducted by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) showed that less than 1 million Brazilians claimed any Middle-Eastern origin.[5] The Lebanese have always traveled the world, many of them settling permanently, most notably in the last two centuries.

Reduced in numbers and estimated to have lost their status as a majority in Lebanon itself, largely as a result of their emigration, Christians still remain one of the principal religious groups in the country.[31] Descendants of Lebanese Christians make up the majority of Lebanese people worldwide, appearing principally in the diaspora.[32]

Identity

The people residing in Lebanon—both those who would become Muslim and the vast majority who would remain Christian, along with the tiny Jewish minority—still spoke Aramaic,[33] or more precisely, a Western Aramaic language.[27] However, since at least the 15th century, the majority of people of all faiths living in what is now Lebanon have been Arabic-speaking,[34][35] or more specifically, speakers of Lebanese Arabic, although up until the 17th century, travellers in the Lebanon still reported on several Aramaic-speaking villages.[36]

Among the Lebanese Maronites, Aramaic still remains the liturgical language of the Maronite Church, although in an Eastern Aramaic form (the Syriac language,[37] in which early Christianity was disseminated throughout the Middle East), distinct from the spoken Aramaic of Lebanon, which was a Western Aramaic language. As the second of two liturgical languages of Judaism, Aramaic was also retained as a language in the sphere of religion (in the Talmud) among Lebanese Jews, although here too in an Eastern Aramaic form (the Talmud was composed in Babylonia in Babylonian Aramaic). Among Lebanese Muslims, however, Aramaic was lost twice, once in the shift to Arabic in the vernacular (Lebanese Arabic) and again in the religious sphere, since Arabic (Qur'anic Arabic) is the liturgical language of Islam.[citation needed]

Some Lebanese Christians particularly Maronites, identify themselves as Lebanese rather than Arab, seeking to draw "on the Phoenician past to try to forge an identity separate from the prevailing Arab culture".[38] They argue that Arabization merely represented a shift to the Arabic language as the vernacular of the Lebanese people, and that, according to them, no actual shift of ethnic identity, much less ancestral origins, occurred. with their own histories and lore, and that therefore they do not belong to the one pan-Arab ethnicity, and thus such categorisation is erred or inapplicable. Certain portions of Lebanon's Christian population in particular tend to stress aspects of Lebanon's non-Arab prior history to encompass all Lebanon's historical stages, instead of considering the beginning of Lebanese history being with the Arab conquests.[citation needed]

In light of this "old controversy about identity",[38] some Lebanese prefer to see Lebanon, Lebanese culture and themselves as part of "Mediterranean" and "Levantine" civilization, in a concession to Lebanon's various layers of heritage, both indigenous, foreign non-Arab, and Arab.

Population numbers

The total population of Lebanese people is estimated at 13-18 million. Of these, the vast majority, or 8.6[2] - 14[3] million, are in the Lebanese diaspora (outside of Lebanon), and approximately 4.3 million in Lebanon itself.[29]

Lebanon

[nb 1][1][1][39]
Ethnic Groups in Lebanon
Ethnicity Percent
Arabs
95%
Armenians
4%
Various other ethnicities:
Mideast (Kurds, Turks, Assyrians, Iranians),
Europeans (Greeks, Italians, French) and others
1%

There are approximately 4.3 million Lebanese people in Lebanon.[29]

In addition to this figure, there are an additional 1 million foreign workers, mainly Syrians and about 400,000 Palestinian refugees in the nation.[40]

Lebanon is also a home to various ethnic minorities found refuge in the country over the centuries. Prominent ethnic minorities in the country include the Armenians, the Kurds, the Turks, the Assyrians, the Iranians and many European ethnicities (Greeks, Italians, French).

There are also a small number of nomadic Dom Gypsies[citation needed] (part of the Roma people of South Asian, particularly, Indian descent)

Diaspora

The Lebanese diaspora consists of approximately 8.6[2] - 14[3] million, both Lebanese-born living abroad and those born-abroad of Lebanese descent. The majority of the Lebanese in the diaspora are Christians,[41] disproportionately so in the Americas where the vast majority reside. An estimate figure show that they represent about 75% of the Lebanese in total. Lebanese abroad are considered "rich, educated and influential"[42] and over the course of time immigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world.[43]

The largest number of Lebanese is to be found in Brazil, where according to the Brazilian and Lebanese governments claim, there are 7 million Brazilians of Lebanese descent.[6][7][8] These figures, however, may be an exaggeration given that, according to a 2008 survey conducted by IBGE, in 2008, covering only the states of Amazonas, Paraíba, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal, 0.9% of white Brazilian respondents said they had family origins in the Middle East[5]

Large numbers also reside elsewhere in North America, most notably in the United States (489,702)[44] and in Canada, the people of full or partial Lebanese descent are between 190,275 (by ancestry, 2011 Census)[45] to 250,000 based on estimates.[14] In the rest of the Americas, significant communities are found in Argentina,[9] Mexico (400,000);[46] Chile,[47] Colombia[10] and Venezuela, with almost every other Latin American country having at least a small presence.

In Africa, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are home to over 100,000 Lebanese.[48] There are significant Lebanese populations in other countries throughout Western and Central Africa.[49][50] Australia hosts over 180,000 and Canada 250,000. In the Arab world, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf harbour around 400,000 Lebanese.[51] Lebanese people also can be found in all of the 28 member states of the European Union. More than 2,500 ex-SLA members remain in Israel.[52]

Currently, Lebanon provides no automatic right to Lebanese citizenship for emigrants who lost their citizenship upon acquiring the citizenship of their host country, nor for the descendants of emigrants born abroad. This situation disproportionately affects Christians. Recently, the Maronite Institution of Emigrants called for the establishment of an avenue by which emigrants who lost their citizenship may regain it, or their overseas-born descendants (if they so wish) may acquire it.[53]

Lebanese residents as a percentage of country's total population

The list below contains approximate figures for people of Lebanese descent by country of residence, largely taken from the iLoubnan diaspora map.[54] Additional reliable cites have been provided where possible. Additional estimates have been included where they can be cited; where applicable, these are used in place of the iLoubnan figures. The Figure below uses the data from the list and calculates the amount of Lebanese residents as a percentage of the total population of the respective country.

Country Estimate Upper Estimate Region Country article in English Wikipedia List of personalities of Lebanese origin
 Brazil 5,800,000;[54] according to a research conducted by IBGE in 2008, covering only the states of Amazonas, Paraíba, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal, 0.9% of white Brazilian respondents said they had family origins in the Middle East[5] 7,000,000[55] (Brazilian/Lebanese governments)[56] Latin America Lebanese Brazilian Brazil
 Argentina 1,200,000[54][9] 3,500,000[9] Latin America Lebanese Argentine Argentina
 Colombia 800,000[54] 3,200,000[57] Latin America Lebanese Colombian Colombia
 United States 500,000[58][note 1] 506,150[59][note 2] North America Lebanese American United States
 Venezuela 341,000[54] 500,000[60] Latin America Lebanese Venezuelan Venezuela
 Australia 271,000[61][62] 350,000[63] Oceania Lebanese Australian Australia
 Mexico 240,000[54] 400,000[64] - 505,000[65] Latin America Lebanese Mexican Mexico
 Canada 190,275[66] 250,000[67] - 270,000[54] North America Lebanese Canadian Canada
 Saudi Arabia 120,000[54] 299,000[68] Arab World Lebanese people in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
 Syria 114,000[69] Arab World Lebanese people in Syria Syria
 France 100,000[70][71] 225,000[54] - 250,000[72] European Union Lebanese French France
 Ecuador 98,000[54] 250,000 Latin America Lebanese Ecuadorian Ecuador
 Dominican Republic 80,000[73] Latin America Lebanese Dominican
 United Arab Emirates 80,000[74] 156,000[75] Arab World Lebanese people in the United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
 Uruguay 53,000[54] 70,000[76] Latin America Lebanese Uruguayan Uruguay
 Germany 50,000[77] European Union Lebanese German Germany
 Ivory Coast 50,000[78] 90,000[79] Sub-saharan Africa Lebanese people in Ivory Coast
 New Zealand 8,500[54] Oceania Lebanese New Zealander
 Kuwait 41,775[80] 106,000[81][82] Arab World Lebanese people in Kuwait
 Senegal 30,000[83][84] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese Senegalese
 Sweden 26,906[85] European Union Lebanese people in Sweden Sweden
 Denmark 26,705[86] European Union Lebanese people in Denmark Denmark
 Qatar 25,000[87] 191,000[88] Arab World Lebanese people in Qatar
 Spain 11,820[54] European Union Lebanese Spanish Spain
 South Africa 5,100[89] 20,000[90] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese people in South Africa South Africa
 Belgium 2,400 [89] 5,000 European Union Lebanese people in Belgium Belgium
Caribbean[note 3] 545,200[54] Latin America Lebanese Jamaican Caribbean  · Cuba  · Haiti  · Jamaica
Rest of Latin America, ex. Caribbean[note 4] 181,800[54] Latin America Lebanese Chileans Chile  · Guatemala  · Dutch Antilles
Scandinavia 108,220[54] European Union Lebanese Swedish Sweden  · Denmark
Rest of GCC[note 5] 105,000[54] Arab World
Rest of European Union[note 6] 96,780[54] European Union Lebanese British  · Lebanese Bulgarian** · Lebanese Greek Bulgaria  · Cyprus  · Germany  · Italy  · Monaco  · Netherlands  · Switzerland  · UK
Rest of Sub-Saharan Africa[note 7] 42,510[54] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese Sierra Leonean Ghana  · Sierra Leone
North Africa[note 8] 14,000[54] North Africa Lebanese Egyptian Egypt
Asia[note 9] 2,600[54] Asia

Note: An important percentage of Arabs in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Spain are of Lebanese ancestry. They are denoted ** for this purpose.

Religion

Lebanese Muslims[29][91] [92][93][94][95][96]
Year Percent
1932
49%
1985
75%
2010
61%
2014
59.5%
Lebanese Christians[91][92][93][94][95]
Year Percent
1932
51%
1985
25%
2010
39%
2014
40.5%

Lebanon has several different main religions. The country has the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East, encompassing 17 recognized religious sects.[97] The main two religions among the Lebanese people are Christianity (the Maronite Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Melkite, the Protestant Church) and Islam (Shia and Sunni). There is also the Druze quasi-Muslim sect.

There are other non-Lebanese Christian minorities such as Armenians (Armenian Apostolic Church and Armenian Catholic Church), French-Italians (Latin Catholic Church), Assyrians (Assyrian Catholic Church of the East, Syriac Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Chaldean Catholic Church) and Copts (Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria), who immigrated to Lebanon over the years.[98]

No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (i.e. religious) balance.[99]

A study conducted by Statistics Lebanon, a Beirut-based research firm, cited by the United States Department of State found that of Lebanon's population of approximately 4.3 million is estimated to be:[29]

There are also very small numbers of other religions such as Judaism, Mormons, Bahá'í Faith, and also religions practiced by foreigner workers like Buddhism and Hinduism.[29]

The CIA World Factbook specifies that of those residing in Lebanon, 59.7% are Muslims (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Sufi and Alawites) and 39% are Christians (mostly Maronites, Greek Orthodox, Melkite, Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean Catholic, Syriac Catholics) and 1.3% "Other".[1]

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems provides source for the registered voters in Lebanon for 2011[100] (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.

However, as soon as the diaspora is included, the Christians become an absolute majority. Lebanon has a population of Mhallamis also known as Mardinli), most of whom migrated from northeast Syria and southeast Turkey are estimated to be between 75,000 and 100,000 and considered to be part of the Sunni population. These have in recent years been granted Lebanese citizenship and, coupled with several civil wars between Islamic extremists and the Lebanese military that have caused many Christians to flee the country, have re-tipped the demographic balance in favour of the Muslims and the Sunnis in particular.[101] In addition, many thousands of Arab Bedouins in the Bekaa and in the Wadi Khaled region, who are entirely Sunnis, were granted Lebanese citizenship. Lebanon also has a Jewish population, estimated at less than 100.

Even though 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 held in another country are recognized by Lebanese civil authorities.

Legally registered Muslims form around 54% of the population (Shia, Sunni, Alawite). Legally registered Christians form up to 41% (Maronite, Greek Orthodox Christian, Melkite, Armenian, Evangelical, other). Druze form around 5%. A small minority of 0.1% includes Jews, and foreign workers who belong to Hindu and Buddhist religions.

Even though non-religion is not recognized by the state, in 2009, the Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud made it possible 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.[102][103]

Genetics

A Druze family of the Lebanon, late 1800s

According to a study published by the American Journal of Human Genetics, present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age.[104][105] More specifically, according to Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist and his colleagues at the Sanger Institute in Britain, who compared "sampled ancient DNA from five Canaanite people who lived 3,750 and 3,650 years ago" to modern people. "The comparison revealed that 90 percent of the genetic ancestry of people in Lebanon came from the Canaanites. (The other 10 percent was of a Eurasian steppe population.)"[106]

In recent years efforts have been made by various genetic researchers,[who?] both in Lebanon and abroad, to identify the ancestral origins of the Lebanese people, their relationship to each other, and to other neighbouring and distant human populations. Like most DNA studies that attempt to identify a population's origins and migration patterns in the region that may have influenced the genetic make-up—these studies have focused on two human genome segments, the Y chromosome (inherited only by males and passed only by fathers) and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, which passes only from mother to child). Both segments are unaffected by recombination, thus they provide an indicator of paternal and maternal origins, respectively.[citation needed]

Theories from some studies propose to corroborate that the Lebanese trace genetic continuity with earlier inhabitants, regardless of their membership to any of Lebanon's different religious communities today. "The genetic marker which identifies descendants of the ancient Levantines is found among members of all of Lebanon's religious communities"[107] as well as some Syrians and Palestinians. By identifying the ancient type of DNA attributed to the Phoenicians, geneticist Pierre Zalloua was also able to chart their spread out of the eastern Mediterranean. These markers were found in unusually high proportions in non-Lebanese samples from other parts of the "Mediterranean coast where the Phoenicians are known to have established colonies, such as Carthage in today's Tunisia."[38] The markers were also found among samples of Maltese and Spaniards, where the Phoenicians were also known to have established colonies. The study shows that 1 out of 17 people in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin can be identified with the Phoenician genetic markers in their Male Chromosomes. However, the particular marker associated by some studies with the historical Phoenicians, haplogroup J2, actually represents a complex mosaic of different demographic processes which affected the Mediterranean in prehistoric and historic times.[108]

Beyond this, more recent finds have also interested geneticists and Lebanese anthropologists. These indicate foreign non-Levantine admixture from some unexpected but not surprising sources, even if only in a small proportion of the samples. Like a story written in DNA, it recounts some of the major historical events seen in the land today known as Lebanon.

Among the more interesting genetic markers found are those that seem to indicate that a small proportion of Lebanese Christians (2%) and a smaller proportion of Lebanese Muslims are descended, in part, from European Crusader Christians and Arabian Muslims respectively. The author states that the "study tells us that some European crusaders did not just conquer and leave behind castles. They left a subtle genetic connection as well."[109] In much the same manner, some of the Arabian Muslims did not just conquer and leave behind mosques.

Christian men from Mount Lebanon, late 1800s

It was during a broader survey of Middle Eastern populations conducted for the Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society that the findings were stumbled upon. "We noticed some interesting lineages in the dataset. Among Lebanese Christians, in particular, we found higher frequency (2%) of a genetic marker — R1b — that we typically see only in Western Europe."[109]

The lineage was seen at that "higher" frequency only in the Christian populations in Lebanon, even though among the Muslims it was not altogether absent. "The study matched the western European Y-chromosome lineage against thousands of people in France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom."[110] On the other hand, in the Lebanese Muslim population a similar pattern, this time associated with genetic markers from Arabia, was also observed in "higher" preferential frequencies, although they too were not altogether absent in the Christian population. "We found that a lineage that is very common in the Arabian Peninsula — Hg J*— is found in slightly higher frequencies preferentially in the Muslim population."[109] The author of the study added that the findings "certainly doesn't undermine the similarities among the various Lebanese communities, but it does agree with oral tradition."[109]

Other unrelated studies have sought to establish relationships between the Lebanese people and other groups. At least one study by the International Institute of Anthropology in Paris, France, confirmed similarities in the Y-haplotype frequencies in Lebanese, Palestinian, and Sephardic Jewish men, identifying them as "three Near-Eastern populations sharing a common geographic origin."[111] The study surveyed one Y-specific DNA polymorphism (p49/Taq I) in 54 Lebanese and 69 Palestinian males, and compared with the results found in 693 Jews from three distinct Jewish ethnic groups; Mizrahi Jews, Sephardi Jews, and Ashkenazi Jews.

In a 2013 interview Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions: "Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another."[112] Lebanese cluster the closest to Jews of any Arab population except the Druze according to a 2010 study by Behar et al., possibly corroborating a Phoenician origin.[113]

Notable individuals

See also

Notes

  1. ^ 26% of 1.9m Americans of Arab descent
  2. ^ 26% of 3,665,789 Americans of Arab descent
  3. ^ Includes Cuba, Guadalupe & Haiti
  4. ^ Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru
  5. ^ Excludes Saudi Arabia & Kuwait, includes Iraq & Jordan
  6. ^ Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  7. ^ Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria & Sierra Leone
  8. ^ Egypt, Libya & rest of North Africa
  9. ^ Iran & Philippines

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Footnotes

  1. ^ Many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendants of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians

External links