The members of the Syrian Orthodox Church are refugees who fled southeastern Turkey during and after World War I and the Assyrian/Syriac genocide. The church follows the Syriac liturgy of St. James and has an independent hierarchy under the Patriarch of Antioch, whose seat was formerly at Mardin in Turkey and is now in Damascus, Syria. The Syriac Orthodox are one of the six different Christian sects that are jointly allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
The Syriac Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Christian Church in full communion with Vatican. The patriarchal seminary is located at the Sharfeh Monastery in Sharfeh, Lebanon. Another notable monastery is the Saint Ephrem monastery in Chebanié. The Syriac Catholics are one of the six different Christian sects that are jointly allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
The Shi’ites of Lebanon are mainly concentrated in South Lebanon, the northern part of the Baalbek area, the Hermel, and the southern suburbs of Beirut. Shia Islam in Lebanon has a history of more than a millennium. The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament is always a Shi’ite by tradition. The Shi’ites presently hold 27 seats of the 128 seats at the Parliament.
The Sunnites of Lebanon are mainly concentrated in the three main cities of the country: Beirut, Tripoli and Saida. Some live also in Akkar, Ikleem al-Kharoub and West Bekaa. Sunni Islam has a history of more than a millennium in Lebanon. The Prime Minister of Lebanon is always a Sunnite by tradition. The Sunnites presently hold 27 seats of the 128 seats at the Parliament.
The Protestant Christianity in Lebanon is the fourth largest Christian denomination native to Lebanon. Most Protestants in Lebanon were converted by missionaries, primarily English and American, during the 19th and 20th centuries. They live primarily in Greater Beirut. The Protestant community in Lebanon has 1 reserved seat in the Parliament.
The Melkite Catholic Christianity in Lebanon is the third largest Christian denomination native to Lebanon. The Melkite Catholics are mainly concentrated in Beirut, Zahlah, and the suburbs of Sidon. Although they fully accept Catholic doctrines as defined by the Holy See, the Melkite Catholics have generally remained close to the Greek Orthodox Church. The Melkite community in Lebanon has 8 reserved seats in the Parliament.
The Maronite Christians in Lebanon is the largest Christian denomination native to Lebanon. They go back to the 4th century AD, and lived for long periods of time in isolation in Mount Lebanon in their earlier days. St Maron is the founder of Maronitism. The Maronite Patriarch of Antioch resides in Bkerké. The Maronites played a major part in the definition of and the creation of the state of Lebanon. The President of the Lebanese Republic and the Army Commander-in-Chief are always Maronites by tradition. The Maronites presently hold 34 seats of the 128 seats at the Parliament.
The Latin Catholics in Lebanon, follow the Holy See in Rome directly. Since 1954, the Holy See has its own seat in Lebanon, the Apostolic Vicariate of Beirut. Its Cathedral episcopal See is the Saint Louis Cathedral in Beirut. The Latin Catholics are one of the six different Christian sects that are jointly allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
The Lebanese Jews at present are estimated between 40 and 200 individuals. There are no services at Beirut’s synagogues. The number of Jews in Lebanon was always low, and most of those emigrated in the wake of the 1948 proclamation of the ‘State of Israel’ and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Ismailism, is a branch of Shia Islam. The Ismailis have lived in Lebanon since the 8th century, particularly in the areas of Wadi al-Taym, and Jabal El Shuf in the highlands of Mount Lebanon. Just several hundred Ismailis are believed to still live in a few communities scattered across Lebanon. They currently have no representation in state functions.
The second largest Christian group in Lebanon is the Greek or Eastern Orthodox. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the deputy Prime Minister are reserved by tradition for Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Eastern Orthodox Lebanese Christians have a long and continuous association with Eastern Orthodox European countries, mainly Greece, Cyprus and Russia. The church exists in many parts of the Arab world. The Greek Orthodox community in Lebanon has 14 reserved seats in the Parliament.
The Lebanese Druze people, who refer to themselves as al-Muwahhideen, are concentrated in the rural and mountainous areas, east and south of Beirut, mainly in the Shouf District of Mount Lebanon. They also form smaller communities in the South, and in particular in Hasbayah. Under the French Mandate, the Druze community was designated as one of the five Lebanese Muslim communities. The Lebanese Army’s Chief of Staff is always a Druze by tradition. The Druze presently hold 8 seats of the 128 seats at the Parliament.
The Coptic Orthodox in Lebanon were immigrants/refugees who had fled their native lands in Egypt, Libya and Sudan. They represent a minor community in Lebanon.
The Coptic Orthodox Church was established by Saint Mark, an apostle and evangelist, in the middle of the 1st century. The Copts are one of the six different Christian sects that are jointly allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
The Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Beirut, established in 1957, is the eparchy (Eastern Catholic diocese) of the Chaldean Catholic Church for all Lebanon. It is immediately dependent on the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon (in Baghdad, Iraq). The Chaldeans are one of the six different Christian sects that are all allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
Most of the Assyrians in Lebanon came as refugees from northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey during and after World War I. Assyrians are a Semitic people who speak Mesopotamian Aramaic dialects. The Archdiocese of Lebanon and Syria of the Assyrian Church of the East is based in the Mar Gewargis Church of Sad El Bouchrieh, Beirut.
The Assyrians are one of six different Christian sects that are jointly allocated the 1 ‘Minorities’ seat in the Parliament.
Lebanon is home to more than 17 recognized Armenian Orthodox churches. During the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the home of the Catholicosate at the Monastery of St. Sophia of Sis was destroyed. Since 1930, the Catholicosate has been headquartered in Antelias. It is a regional See of the Armenian Orthodox Church and has jurisdiction over prelacies in Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, the Persian Gulf, the USA, Canada and Venezuela. The Armenian Orthodox community in Lebanon has 5 reserved seats in the Parliament.
The Armenian Catholic Church is one of the Eastern particular churches of the Catholic Church. They are in full communion with the Catholic Church in Rome. The head of the Church is the Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia, based at the Cathedral of Saint Elias and Saint Gregory the Illuminator, in Beirut. In 1749, the Church built the convent in Bzoummar. During the Armenian Genocide in 19151918 large numbers of Armenian Catholics scattered in Lebanon and Syria. The Armenian Catholic community in Lebanon has 1 reserved seat in the Parliament.
The Alawites are a Muslim Shia subgroup. They have lived in Lebanon since at least the 16th century. They live mostly in the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood of Tripoli and in the Akkar region, and presently have two reserved seats in the Parliament.