An-Nahar Census Project

By Ana

I mentioned the following comment in response to a post on the Lebanese Political Journal:

An Nahar conducted an independent survey to list the demographic configurations of the country. The survey was done by listing the holders of the Lebanese ID card (the Haweeyeh). Although your religion is not actually written on your ID card, when you fill out your Haweeyeh form, you are asked to write down your religion. The authors of the project therefore were able to get permission from the government to view the religions of those Lebanese who are Haweeyeh holders. However, this also includes Lebanese who are currently not living in Lebanon. The results of the census project from the total population of Lebanese nationals went as follows:

Shi’a: 29.06%
Sunni: 29.04%
Druze: 5%
Christians: total 35% (Maronites 19% and Others 16%)
Other: 1-2%

To add some more information that I did not post on the LPJ:

Such statistics confirm a number of points. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the Christians are very clearly over-represented in the parliament and government. The Taif ratio of 6:6 no longer reflects the demographic make-up of today’s Lebanon. It would be an interesting exercise to actually mathematically calculate how many Christians should be in the parliament. I will try to do something of the sort once the winter break starts and I have more time on my hands.

Secondly, the Shi’a and Sunni are very much equal size. Therefore, those who advocate mainstream rhetoric that states that the Shi’a are signficantly more in numbers than the Sunni should probably be a bit more wary of such statements. It is, however, important to remember that the project only dealt with Haweeyeh holders. Therefore, it is very possible that a lot of the poorer Shi’a communities do not hold ID cards. It is also very possible that a lot of these Shi’a and Sunni do not live in Lebanon: many Shi’a work in Angola, Nigeria, and Laos with a significant community existing in Canada and the United States. Many Sunni Lebanese live in Canada, the United States, and Australia. Therefore, what appears on paper in the form of numbers might not be as clearly reflected on the ground.

December 3, 2006

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