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Lebanon, The People of Lebanon

Lebanon has not taken a census since 1932. The 1997 estimated population was 3,111,828, but this figure, provided by the Lebanese government, does not include Palestinian refugees and foreign workers, mainly Syrian. An independent 2002 estimate placed the population at 3,677,780, yielding a population density of 352 persons per sq km (911 per sq mi). Densities are highest along the coast and on the lower western slopes of the Lebanon Mountains. Some 90 percent of the population is urban. Emigration from Lebanon to other countries, especially among Christians, has been steady since the mid-19th century, and it increased sharply during the civil war. Within the country, thousands of Shia Muslim refugees have fled fighting in southern Lebanon and moved into shantytowns in Beirutís southern suburbs.

Lebanonís major cities were greatly affected by the civil war. Beirut has gradually regained most of its prewar population and remains the countryís largest city. Tripoli, the northern port, is the second largest city, followed by Juniyah, north of Beirut. Juniyah was developed as a wartime port and subsequently had a population boom. Za?lah, a once-large city overlooking the Bekaa, lost much of its population during the war. The southern towns of Sayda (Sidon) and Sur (ancient Tyre), which were subjected to periodic attacks by guerrillas and Israeli forces, also lost population.

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