More information about Lebanon is available on the Lebanon Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
Lebanon’s history since its 1943 independence has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on its position as a regional center for finance and trade. The country’s 1975-90 civil war was followed by years of social and political instability. Sectarianism is a key element of Lebanese political life. Neighboring Syria has long influenced Lebanon’s foreign policy and internal policies, and its military forces were in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005. The Lebanon-based Hizballah militia and Israel continued to engage in attacks and counterattacks against each other after Syria’s withdrawal, and fought a brief war in 2006. Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel are still to be resolved.
The United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, and to help preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity. The United States, along with the international community, supports full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1559, 1680 and 1701, including the disarming of all militias, delineation of the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) throughout Lebanon. The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
U.S. Assistance to Lebanon
Since 2006, the United States has provided more than $2 billion in bilateral foreign assistance to Lebanon. This assistance supports the strengthening of the institutions of the Lebanese state following years of Syrian hegemony, bolstering vital public services, preserving the multi-sectarian character of Lebanon, and countering Hizballah’s narrative and influence. U.S. assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces builds a capable and committed partner force in a difficult region, helping the Lebanese state protect its borders, effectively counter ISIS, and demonstrate it is the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty. Support for Lebanon’s state institutions and security agencies is at the core of our efforts to preserve stability while countering and delegitimizing Hizballah’s false narrative and justification for retaining its arms in Lebanon and in the region. In addition to bilateral foreign assistance, the United States has provided nearly $1.8 billion in humanitarian assistance for Lebanon since the start of the Syria crisis.
Economic and justice sector assistance to Lebanon supports programs that promote workforce employability and productivity, good governance, social cohesion, and economic growth. Assistance also supports the access to clean water and improved education services to Lebanese communities, especially those deeply impacted by the influx of Syrian refugees. Over the past ten years, the United States has invested over $170 million in basic education programs and over $160 million in higher education programs in Lebanon, supporting access for over 891 Lebanese students from disadvantaged backgrounds to top ranking Lebanese universities.
The United States is Lebanon’s primary security partner. Since 2006, the United States has provided Lebanon over $1.7 billion in security assistance. U.S. assistance supports the Lebanese Armed Forces’ ability to secure Lebanon’s borders, counter internal threats, and defend national territory. Through our provision of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, munitions, vehicles, and associated training, the Lebanese Armed Forces has greatly increased its capability as a fighting force against violent extremists. In addition, U.S. assistance bolsters the Lebanese Internal Security Forces’ efforts to prevent, counter, and respond to criminal and terrorist threats and their underlying causes, to secure and safeguard Lebanon’s territory and people, to interdict items of proliferation concern, and to extend rule of law throughout the country.
Lebanon hosts the highest per capita number of refugees in the world, with over one million registered refugees from Syria, between 170,000 and 270,000 longstanding Palestinians registered with the UN, and over 20,000 Iraqi and other refugees. Since the start of the Syria crisis, the U.S. humanitarian assistance in Lebanon meets a range of critical needs of Syrian refugees and host communities, including food, shelter, medical care, clean water and sanitation, education, and psychosocial support.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. In 2011, major U.S. exports to Lebanon were mineral fuel and oil, vehicles, machinery, pharmaceutical products, and cereals. The U.S. and Lebanon have signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to help promote an attractive investment climate, expand trade relations, and remove obstacles to trade and investment between the two countries. The U.S. does not have a bilateral investment treaty with Lebanon or an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation.
Lebanon’s Membership in International Organizations
Lebanon’s foreign policy reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Lebanon and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Lebanon is an observer to the Organization of American States and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization.
The U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon is Elizabeth H. Richard; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Lebanon maintains an embassy in the United States at 2560 28th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300.
More information about Lebanon is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook Lebanon Page
USAID Lebanon Page
History of U.S. Relations With Lebanon
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies