Lebanon is located in the South-East of the Mediterranean basin; it has borders with Syria on the North and East and Israel to the South. The capital is Beirut and the other major cities are Tripoli, Sidon, Tyre and Zahle. Lebanon gained its independence from France in 1943. According to the unwritten "National Pact of 1943" (Cobban, 1985: 70), the President of Lebanon is a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies a Shia Muslim, the Commander of the Army a Maronite Christian and his Chief of Staff a Druze. There are 18 officially recognized religious sects of which the Shia and the Sunni Muslims, the Maronites and Roman Orthodox are the most powerful groups. Muslims make up 59.7% of the population: Shia, Sunni, Druze, Ismaili, Alawite or Nusayri, and Christians 39%: Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copts and Protestants while others make up 1.3% of the population.
The Parliament consists of 128 deputies; made up to proportionally represent the various sectarian groups, and serves for a 4-year term.