Lebanon is a relatively small country with an estimated population of 6.9 million,[1] and a low fertility rate of 2.1 birth per woman.[2] Lebanon hosts around 1.5 million Syrian refugees,[3] of which 919,578 are registered refugees by October 2019,[4] in addition to 533,885 Palestinian refugees.[5] 

Given the challenging internal economic and political environment, sluggish global economy and volatile geopolitics, GDP growth in Lebanon has been seriously affected, reaching a real growth rate of 0.3 percent in 2018, compared to 10 percent in 2009.[6] The growth is projected to continue to be weak at 0.2 percent in 2019. According to the Central Administration of Statistics, prices picked up in 2017, with inflation reaching 4.5 percent for that year and 6.1 percent in 2018, compared to -0.8 percent in 2016.[7] Inflationary pressures are mainly driven by the increase in general taxes on citizens, including VAT and business taxes and continuing global rises in oil prices and other commodity prices.  

Public finances in Lebanon suffer from deep structural imbalances, calling out for the need of urgent fiscal reforms and policy response. The fiscal deficit reached 11 percent of GDP in 2018, up from 8.6 percent in 2017.[6] In parallel, public debt continues to rise driven by continuous budget deficits due to the increase in salary of civil servants and public school teachers, continuous financing of Electricité du Liban (EDL) and a relatively high cost of debt financing. In 2019, debt to GDP ratio is projected to increase to 155 percent. The current account balance has been negative over the past decades, currently scoring a deficit of USD 14.4 billion, estimated at 26 percent of GDP.[6]  A long line of international donors’ conferences have aimed at stabilizing and boosting the Lebanese economy and CEDRE – the Conference for Economic Development and Reform through Enterprises— is the latest (April 2018). Government formation and fiscal reforms are needed to unlock CEDRE financing consisting of USD 10.2 billion in loans and USD 860 million in grants.[8]

About a third of the population live in poverty, up from 27.4 percent in 2011-2012.[9] In addition, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), unemployment rate is expected to double from around 11 percent to 20 percent.[10]

The health system is quite developed, and the Government has been trying to introduce reforms to achieve universal coverage.[11] Life expectancy is high at 78.8 years compared to the regional average of 71.6 years[12], while maternal mortality and infant mortality are low scoring 29 per 100,000 and 6.4 per 1,000 respectively.[2]

While the gross primary enrolment rate reached 93 percent in 2017, the gross tertiary enrolment levelled at 38 percent. The literacy rate among the youth population amounted to 100 percent, higher than the regional average of 86 percent in 2018.[13]

This overview was last updated in November 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. 2019. World Population Prospects, Online Edition. Rev. 1. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[2] The World Bank. 2019. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/source/world-development-indicators  [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[3] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Lebanon Operational Environment. [ONLINE] Available at: http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/2520 [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[4] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2019. Operational Portal Refugee Situations: Syria Regional Refugee Response. [ONLINE] Available at: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/71 [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[5] The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). February 2019. UNRWA in Figures 2018-2019. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.unrwa.org/resources/about-unrwa/unrwa-figures-2018-2019 [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[6] International Monetary Fund (IMF). October 2019. World Economic Outlook Database. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2019/02/weodata/index.aspx [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[7] Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), Lebanon. 2019. Consumer price index: Annual average inflation. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/CPI/2018/Annual%20Average%20Inflation.pdf [Accessed 6 November 2019].

 [8] Council for Development and Reconstruction, Lebanon. April 2018. Government of Lebanon: Vision for stabilization, growth and employment. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cdr.gov.lb/study/cedre/CedreGoLVisionMarch15.pdf [Accessed 6 November 2019].

[9] The Word Bank. November 2019. World Bank: Lebanon is in the Midst of Economic, Financial and Social Hardship, Situation Could Get Worse. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/11/06/world-bank-lebanon-is-in-the-midst-of-economic-financial-and-social-hardship-situation-could-get-worse [Accessed 7 November 2019].

[10] International Labour Organization (ILO). 2019. The ILO in Lebanon. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ilo.org/beirut/countries/lebanon/WCMS_526989/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 6 November 2019].              

[11] Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon. 2018. Emergency Primary Health Care Restoration Project towards Universal Health Coverage in Collaboration with World Bank. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.moph.gov.lb/en/Pages/6/779/universal-health-coverage-project-lebanon [Accessed 18 February 2019].

[12] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2018. Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Statistical Update. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2018_human_development_statistical_update.pdf [Accessed 18 February 2019].

[13] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2019UNESCO Institute for Statistics. [ONLINE] Available at: http://data.uis.unesco.org/ [Accessed 6 November 2019].


view all

Data Highlights

  • The health system is quite developed with a high life expectancy of 79.5 years in 2015 and low levels of maternal mortality and infant mortality, reaching 15 per 100,000 and 7.1 per 1,000, respectively.

view all