SHARE

How many registered Lebanese are there? How many among those reside in Lebanon and how large is the expatriate community? These questions are difficult to answer due to the absence of precise official data in this respect. However, it is not the incapability of the state’s apparatuses, the General Directorate of Personal Status in particular, that accounts for the lack of clear-cutting demographic statistics but rather the sectarian reasons that interfere to impede the disclosure of the actual sectarian structure of the Lebanese and their distribution over all of the 18 sects. Failure to reveal the precise data reinforces the illusion suggesting that Muslims and Christians are equal in numbers and that their respective sectarian groups are distributed evenly. It is common knowledge though that the religious balance stands no more in the demographic game nowadays and that the gap is likely to widen in the few coming years, as this survey will reveal.

Lebanese Population in 1860

In 1860, Lebanon existed in the form of a Mutasarrifiya, the area of which totaled 3500 km2 and was home to 217,675 Lebanese distributed over all sects as illustrated in Table 1. Christians constituted 79% of the population and Muslims 21%.

Population by sect in 1860

Table 1

Population

Size

(%)

Maronite

101,900

46.8

Greek Catholic

38,625

17.7

Druze

35,475

16.3

Greek Orthodox

30,375

14

Muslims

10,510

4.8

Protestant

500

0.2

Jews

290

0.1

Total

217,675

100

Lebanese Population in 1932

The state of Greater Lebanon was established in September 1920 with its present boundaries. The territory incorporated new regions different from those that existed within the Mutasarrifiya, thus resulting in an evident increase in the numbers of Sunni and Shia’a Muslims. According to the first and only census performed in 1932, the number of registered Lebanese was 1,046,146 of whom 793,396 resided in Lebanon. The following Table 2 reveals the distribution of both Lebanese residents and emigrants by sect. Christians made up 59.2% of the total registered population against 40.4% for Muslims.

Population by sect in 1932

Table 2

Sect

# of residents

# of emigrants

%

Maronite

227,800

123,397

33.5

Greek Orthodox

77,312

56,031

12.7

Greek Catholic

46,709

29,627

7.3

Armenian Orthodox

26,102

1,970

2.7

Armenian Catholic

5,980

454

0.6

Syrian Orthodox

2,723

97

0.3

Syrian Catholic

2,803

312

0.3

Protestant

1,869

2,731

0.4

Orthodox/Catholic Chaldeans

738

6

0.07

Sunni

178,100

16,205

18.6

Shia’a

155,035

11,510

16

Druze

53,344

8,750

6

Jews

3,588

415

0.4

Minorities

11,293

1,263

1.2

Total

793,396

252,768

100

Source: 1932 census

Lebanese Population in 2006

In 2006, the number of registered citizens stood at 4,571,000 of whom 3,800,000 were residents. Their distribution by sect is illustrated in the following Table 3 with a total of 35.5% Muslims and 64.5% Christians.

Population by sect in 2006

Table 3

Sect

Population size

%

Sunni

1,336,000

29.2

Shia’a

1,333,000

29.1

Druze

248,000

5.4

Alawi

37,000

0.8

Maronite

880,000

19.2

Greek Orthodox

310,000

6.8

Greek Catholic

204,000

4.5

Armenian Orthodox

104,000

2.3

Armenian Catholic

23,000

0.5

Evangelical

21,000

0.4

Syrian Orthodox

21,000

0.4

Latin

14,000

0.3

Syrian Catholic

13,000

0.3

Minorities

27,000

0.6

Total

4,571,000

100

Source: The Lebanese 1907-2006

Population Growth by Sect

A look at the distribution of the Lebanese population between 1932 and 2006 reveals that the population grew by 337% or by 3,524,836 people. Population growth by sect broke down as follows:

  • Maronite: 652,200 people or 286%
  • Greek Orthodox: 176,657 people or 133%
  • Greek Catholic: 127,664 people or 167%
  • Armenian Orthodox: 75,928 people or 270%
  • Armenian Catholic: 16,566 people or 257%
  • Evangelical: 16,400 people or 356%
  • Sunni: 1,141,695 people or 588%
  • Shia’a: 1,166,455 people or 700%
  • Druze: 185,916 people or 300%
  • Alawis: not specified

The above-mentioned numbers and percentages show that the growth of the Muslim population was twice that of the Christians’ with 71% of the total increase.

Naturalization Decree

Higher birth rates and polygamy among the Muslim community are some of the major social and cultural factors that justify why Muslims have outnumbered Christians throughout the years. Another reason is associated with the naturalization decree No. 5247 issued on June 20, 1994. The decree naturalized 153,452 people, and marriages and births upped the number to 202,527 of whom the Christians formed 21.5% (43,516 people) and the Muslims 78.5% (159,011 people). The Sunni formed 58.4% of the total naturalized population. Table 4 illustrates the distribution of the naturalized by sect.

Naturalized population by sect

Table 4

 

Sunni

Shia’a

Druze

Alawi

Total Muslims

Maronite

Greek Orthodox

Greek Catholic

Protestant

Number

118,295

28,425

4,337

7,954

159,011

2,725

10,736

6,617

535

%

58.4

14

2.1

3.9

78.5

1.3

5.3

3.3

0.26

 

Latin

Armenian Orthodox

Armenian Catholic

Syrian Orthodox

Syrian Catholic

Chaldean

Other

Total Christians

Total

Number

1,135

9,977

2,526

5,568

1,313

1,141

1,243

43,516

202,527

%

0.56

4.9

1.2

2.7

0.56

0.56

0.61

21.5

100%

Source: Naturalization Decree No. 5247: The Whole Story by Bechara Merhej

Future Estimates

According to the 2006 demographic data of registered population and the growth rates recorded in the past four years, and granted that no unforeseen factors come into play such as the issuance of a decree naturalizing Christians or the approval of citizenship rights to people of Lebanese origins or a radical shift in birth rates, it is estimated that the number of registered Lebanese will reach 5,082,363 in 2016 with the Muslims forming 66.5% and the Christians 33.5%. The number is expected to soar in 2081 to 5,987,631 of whom 73.2% are Muslim and 26.8% are Christian as illustrated in Table 5.

Outlook for population growt

Table 5

 

Lebanese population in 2006

Population estimates for 2016

Population estimates for 2081

Sects

4,571,092

100

5,082,363

100

5,987,631

100

Maronite

879,666

19.24

938,546

18.47

930,043

15.53

Orthodox

309,847

6.78

322,713

6.35

292,396

4.88

Catholic

203,940

4.46

215,635

4.24

198,278

3.31

Armenian Orthodox

104,753

2.29

101,281

1.99

68,123

1.14

Armenian Catholic

23,323

0.51

22,771

0.45

16,353

0.27

Evangelical

21,318

0.47

20,699

0.41

13,738

0.23

Latin

14,428

0.32

14,909

0.29

11,913

0.20

Syrian Orthodox

20,766

0.45

22,382

0.44

20,367

0.34

Syrian Catholic

12,936

0.28

13,316

0.26

10,810

0.18

Other

25,381

0.56

29,562

0.58

42,140

0.70

Total Christians

1,616,358

35.3

1,701.814

33.5

1,604,159

26.8

Sunni

1,336,375

29.24

1,527,559

30.06

1,998,475

33.38

Shia’a

1,333,233

29.17

1,533,760

30.18

2,017,480

33.69

Druze

247,652

5.42

276,310

5.44

311,016

5.19

Alawi

37,474

0.82

42,920

0.84

56,501

0.94

Total Muslims

2,954,734

64.7

3,380,549

66.5

4,383,472

73.2

Source: Study by actuarial expert Ibrahim Mhanna

Births and Deaths by Mohafaza (2006-2012)

601,907 births and 152,635 deaths were registered between 2006 and 2012, which pushes the net growth to 449,332. The birth rates in the Mohafazat with Muslim majorities (North and South) proved higher than those in the Christian Mohafazat (Mount Lebanon) as illustrated in Table 6.

Births and deaths by Mohafaza (2006-2009)

Table 6

Year

Mohafaza

2006

2007

2008

2009

 

# of births

# of deaths

# of births

# of deaths

# of births

# of deaths

# of births

# of deaths

Beirut

8339

2594

7933

2797

8534

2809

8824

2998

Mount Lebanon

13835

5313

14051

5823

14764

5739

15558

6084

North

22412

4435

20925

4725

21358

4588

23146

4695

South

10323

2425

10461

2259

10857

2311

11564

2569

Nabatieh

11520

2510

11895

2192

12817

2258

12675

2341

Beqa’a

6361

1510

15631

3296

16493

3343

18621

3573

Total

72790

18787

80896

21092

84823

21048

90388

22260

Source: Central Statistics Administration

Births and deaths by Mohafaza (2010-2012)

Table 6

Year

Mohafaza

2010

2011

2012 (until October inclusive)

 

# of births

# of deaths

# of births

# of deaths

# of births

# of deaths

Beirut

9004

3073

9171

4337

7182

2678

Mount Lebanon

15997

6319

15935

6367

12992

5550

North

25740

4977

28506

5539

22844

4555

South

11663

2481

11,823

2606

9269

2235

Nabatieh

12866

2343

12,565

3314

10977

2195

Beqa’a

19948

3733

20569

3907

16019

3239

Total

95218

22926

98569

26070

79283

20452

Source: Central Statistics Administration

When surveyed by sect, the current demographic growth trends in Lebanon register higher rates within Muslim than Christian sects. These trends have been prevailing over the past few years and are unlikely to die away in the short term based on the available data. The Christians who had been a majority since the establishment of Lebanon until a few decades ago might become a minority by the beginning of the coming century, which raises serious concerns about the future of this population.  



LEAVE A REPLY