Area: Lebanon is a small country of only 10,452 sq km (4036 sq mi); from north to south it extends 217 km (135 mi) and from east to west it spans 80 km (50 mi) at its widest point.
Language: Arabic is the official language. French is the second most commonly used language and English is also spoken, especially in business circles. Kurdish and Armenian are spoken by a small percentage of the population.
Religion: Unlike most other Arab countries, Lebanon is characterized by great religious and cultural diversity. At the time of independence Christians formed a slight majority of the population, the largest single community (nearly 30% of the total) being the Maronite Christians, who mostly inhabited the north of Lebanon and the capital, Beirut. Other Christian groups included Greek Orthodox communities, Greek Catholics and Armenians. The Muslim groups were the Sunnis (living mainly in the coastal towns of Tyre, Sidon and Beirut), the Shi´as (a predominantly rural community in southern Lebanon and the northern Beka´a valley) and the much smaller Druzes, an ancient community in central Lebanon.