Glossary -- Lebanon

barrels per day (bpd)
Production of crude oil and petroleum products is frequently measured in barrels per day. A barrel is a volume measure of forty- two United States gallons. Conversion of barrels to tons depends on the density of the special product. About 7.3 barrels of average crude oil weigh one ton. Heavy products would be about seven barrels per ton. Light products, such as gasoline and kerosene, would average close to eight barrels per ton.
confessional, confessionalism
In its broadest sense, refers to adherence to a faith or religion, such as Christianity or Islam. In Lebanon, however, it more often connotes identification with narrower affiliations, such as sect or clan. Often used interchnagably with sectarian.
Religious community generally considered to be Muslim but whose practices also contain elements of Christianity and paganism. The religion was brought to Lebanon around the eleventh century by Darazi (hence the name Druze), a disciple of Al Hakim, the Fatimid caliph of Egypt who considered himself the final incarnation of God. The religion is secretive, and very few members are masters. The Druze community lives primarily in West Beirut, the Shuf Mountains, the Al Matn district and the regions around Hasbayya and Rashayya.
Greater Syria
Term used by historicans and others to designate the region that include approximately the present-day states of Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria before those states were formed.
Green Line
A no-man's-land created in Beirut during the 1975 Civil War by the forward lines of advance of the contending forces. The vegetation that grew in this abandoned area gave rise to the name Green Line. In 1987 it still separated Christian East Beirut from Muslim West Beirut.
Gross domestic product GDP)
A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and investment are included because the values of primary and intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made. Because of the turmoil in Lebanon since 1975, GDP estimates are very imprecise.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
Lebanese pound (L£)
The unit of currency, which is divided into 100 piasters. Before the outbreak of the 1975 Civil War, the pound was strong, and it required only L£2.3 to buy a United States dollar. During and immediately after the worst fighting, confidence in the pound dropped, but in 1982 the exchange rate was still fairly firm at L£3.81 to the dollar. During the chaos from 1983 to 1987, however, the pound rapidly depreciated, so that by August 1987 it was nearly worthless, trading at more than L£250 to the dollar.
The largest Christian sect in Lebanon, the Maronite Church is one of a group of Christian churches known as Uniate, which are in full communion with the Holy See in Rome but are separately organized and adhere to an Eastern rite. Maronites settled in the mountains of northern Lebanon in the mid-seventh century; many continue to live there and in East Beirut. Maronites traditionally have looked to the West for cultural inspiration. Maronites tend to be better educated and wealthier than other segments of Lebanese society. By custom, the president of the republic is a Maronite.
Mount Lebanon
A term first used during the Ottoman era to designate the central part of the Lebanon Mountains inhabited mostly by Maronites and Druzes. After 1864 the area was administered as a separate entity and Christians prospered. Most of the region surrounding Mount Lebanon (often called simply "the Mountain") was considered part of Greater Syria, an area that encompassed present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. In 1920, while under the French Mandate, parts of Greater Syria (q.v.) were annexed to Mount Lebanon to create Greater Lebanon. This newly established territory eventually became the present- day state of Lebanon.
Phalange Party
Founded in 1936 by Pierre Jumayyil (also seen as Gemayel), the Phalange, or Phalanxes (Kataib in Arabic), was a mostly Maronite organization whose followers were known as Phalangists. Its policies were Western oriented and right wing. Its powerful militia, which was supported by Israel, participated heavily on the Christian side in the 1975 Civil War. Beginning in the late 1970s, as its militia, led by Pierre's son Bashir, seized control of other Christian forces, it became known as the Lebanese Forces (LF). By the mid- to late 1980s, however, after Bashir's assassination and Pierre's death, Phalange power ebbed, and it lost control of the LF.
The largest Muslim sect in Lebanon. The word Shia comes from Shiat Ali, or party of Ali. Those who believed that Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, should have succeeded the Prophet have come to be known as Shias. Those who thought that the successor should have been chosen by the community came to be known as Sunnis (q.v.). This dispute created the first great division in Islam. Most Lebanese Shias are Twelver Shias (also known as Imami Shias), believing that the twelfth imam (divinely appointed religious leader) is in hiding and will reappear. Shias live in West Beirut and its southern suburbs, southern Lebanon, and in parts of the Biqa Valley. Shias have tended to have less education and to be poorer than most other segments of society.
See Shia(s).
The second largest Muslim sect in Lebanon. After Muhammad's death, those followers who supported a traditional method of election based on community agreement became known as Sunnis; those who supported Ali as successor became known as Shias (q.v.). Sunnis primarily inhabit parts of West Beirut, the south-central coast, and the north. By custom, the prime minister is a Sunni.
World Bank
Informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated international institutions, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Agency (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The three institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).
zaim (pl., zuama)
Believed to be a vestige of feudal times, the zaim (Arabic for leader) is a political leader, either an officeholder or a power broker, whose followers are usually of the same religious sect. Within his district, the zaim is all powerful, and his clients promise electoral loyalty in exchange for favors.