Lebanon: A Country Study replaces the Area Handbook for Lebanon published in 1973. Like its predecessor, the present book is an attempt to treat in a concise and objective manner the dominant historical, social, economic, political, and national security aspects of contemporary Lebanon. But, like the country, which has undergone radical changes since the mid-1970s, the present study bears little resemblance to the old book; it has been completely revised to reflect the current situation. Sources of information included scholarly books, journals, and monographs; official reports and documents of governments and international organizations; foreign and domestic newspapers and periodicals; and interviews with Lebanese officials and individuals with special competence in Lebanese affairs. Because so much of the literature is polemical, the authors took special pains to separate fact from bias. In addition, because the turmoil that has occurred since 1975 has precluded comprehensive and accurate accounting of economic and demographic statistics, most data should be viewed as rough estimates.
Much of the recent history and much of the political situation in Lebanon are associated with armed conflict. Accordingly, detailed information on these topics is likely to be found in the national security chapter rather than in the chapters on history or government and politics.
The transliteration of Arabic words and phrases posed a particular problem. For many words--such as Muhammad, Muslim, and Quran--the authors followed a modified version of the system adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographic Names for British Official Use, known as the BGN/PCGN system. The modification entails the omission of diacritical markings and hyphens. In numerous instances, however, the names of persons or places are so well known by another spelling that to have used the BGN/PCGN system may have created confusion. For example, the reader will find Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre rather than Bayrut, Sayda, and Sur. Furthermore, because press accounts generally use French in the spelling of personal names, the alternate French version is often given when such a name is introduced in each chapter.
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