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Lebanon, or in official circles, the Republic of Lebanon, is a country in the East Mediterranean region of Asia, with a total land area of just over 4,000 square miles.  The country is bordered to the north and east by Syria and to the south by Israel.  Its location at the intersection of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian Hinterland has dictated Lebanon’s rich history, and formulated a proud cultural identity of ethnic and religious diversity.  The capital and largest city in Lebanon is Beirut.
 
Up until the summer of 2006, Lebanon, and its 4.1 million permanent residents, enjoyed a considerable measure of political and economic stability.  The rebuilding of Beirut was nearly finalized and tourists were coming in droves to visit the nation’s bustling resorts.  This stability, however, was severely disrupted during Lebanon’s month-long war with Israel in July of 2006, causing heavy military and civilian casualties and significant damage to the country’s civil infrastructure.  Today Lebanon is once again in reconstruction mode, making strides each year to recapture those days prior to the Israeli campaign.
 
Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Lebanon, as stated by the country’s constitution.  It is the primary language used for government, business and the language used in newspapers, periodicals and news broadcasts.  Lebanese Arabic, however, a local dialect, is spoken colloquially and most commonly among the Lebanese people.  French is used as a second language in the majority of Lebanese schools, and English is becoming increasingly popular as a second language.  Religiously, Islam is the most commonly practiced doctrine (60%), with a fairly equal distribution of Sunni and Shia Muslims.  Most of the remainder of the population practices Christianity, particularly the various branches of Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy. 
 
Education in Lebanon
 
Education in Lebanon is overseen and administered by the national Ministry of Education, a body that develops policy and prescribes the curriculum at Lebanese schools.  Education is divided between four distinct levels:  primary education, intermediate school, secondary education and higher education.
 
Primary education, conducted at the country’s elementary schools and serving children between the ages of 6 and 12, spans a total of six years.  The curriculum in the early grades focuses on reading and writing education, along with some basic arithmetic, after which the main subjects taught are mathematics, the sciences, Arabic and least one other foreign language, usually French and/or English.
 
Intermediate education, lasting a total of three years, is the last compulsory stage of education under the Lebanese system.  The curriculum at this level consists of most of the same subjects mentioned above, albeit at a slightly more advanced level.  Following the third year of intermediate school, students must sit for the Lebanese “Brevet,” or Intermediate School Certification.
 
Secondary school is also a three year program, consisting of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades.  The program is largely academic at this stage, but older students do have the opportunity to take vocational courses, some of which lead to certification and allow students to enter the workforce upon graduation.  In the 12th grade, all students must choose an academic concentration (mathematics, language, etc), and it is that concentration which will be the focus of their specific Baccalaureate Certificate, the national secondary school leaving exam in Lebanon for which all students must sit.
 
There are a number of universities and vocational institutions that comprise Lebanon’s higher or post-secondary education system.  Universities, both public and private, offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in a number of academic disciplines, while vocational schools help train students in career fields that are significant in the Lebanese economy.
 
The adult literacy rate in Lebanon is 89 percent.

Map of Lebanon

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