immigration in lebanon

Topics: Human migration, Lebanon, Refugee Pages: 57 (10524 words) Published: December 28, 2013
Lebanon: A Country of Emigration and Immigration
Dr Paul Tabar

Paul Tabar is the director of the Institute for Migration Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology at the Lebanese American University. He is also Associate Researcher at the Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney. He is a co-author of Being Lebanese in Australia: Identity, Racism and the Ethnic Field (Institute for Migration Studies, LAU Press, Beirut, 2010). E-mail address:

Migration Patterns: Lebanon
The first section of this paper aims to give a concise account of the patterns, history, and characteristics of Lebanese Migration from 1870 to the present day. Before describing the patterns of migration to and from Lebanon, it is critical to lay out the geographical boundaries of the area which constitutes this paper’s focus. Mount Lebanon refers to a primary source of early emigration that existed between 1870 and 1920. Present day Lebanon, which was founded in 1920 and became independent in 1943, is dealt with later in the paper.

Lebanese emigration started in Mount Lebanon, which included the major coastal cities of Jounieh and Byblos – but not Beirut. To the north, Mount Lebanon included neither Tripoli nor Akkar. The Beqaa Valley and South Lebanon (including Sidon and Tyre) were also excluded. Mount Lebanon became an autonomous administrative unit within the Ottoman Empire in 1860, and was governed by a Christian Ottoman Pasha appointed by the Supreme Port and selected from outside Mount Lebanon (now called the Mutasarrifiya). Waves of Lebanese Migration

This section discusses patterns and characteristics of Lebanese emigration from the Ottoman Empire until 2007.
Emigration from Lebanon: the first wave
Throughout modern history, Lebanon has experienced waves of emigration. For more than a century and a half Lebanon has sent inhabitants abroad to seek better fortunes. This is largely the result of a combination of lopsided economic development and undemocratic communal politics. In addition, Lebanon’s geographic location, in a region ridden with national and international conflicts, has contributed to emigration throughout history. The disintegration of the Muqata`aji system (a specific form of centralized feudalism) in Mount Lebanon between 1840 and 1860, and the increasing integration of the mountain economy into the expanding British and French capitalist market were two important factors that ushered in the emigration that continues today.

A small number of people emigrated from Mount Lebanon prior to the 1870s. They were mostly Christians who were sent by the Maronite Catholic Church to study in Rome in order to return and serve as the clergy. In addition, a small number of Christians emigrated to “Egypt and the main centres (sic) of trade between Europe and the Near East – Livorno, Marseille, Manchester” as a result of mercantile capitalist developments in Europe and religious links (Hourani, in Hourani and Shehadi, Eds. 1992: 5). These movements formed the first wave of emigration from Mount Lebanon.

Emigration from Lebanon: The Second Wave
A second wave of emigration came as a result of the emancipation of the peasants in 1860 and the integration of the local economy into the European capitalist market. This phase was characterized by major growth in the population. Most reliable figures place the annual rate of growth between 0.7 and 0.8 percent between 1840 and 1895 (Issawi, 1992: 22-23). Between 1783 and 1860, the population grew from 120,000 to about 200,000, and it was 280,000 two decades later. By 1913 the number was 414,800 (Khater, 2001:59).


This population increase was accompanied by “a growing number of educated men, and a smaller number of women, who looked for opportunity to use their newly acquired skills” (Tabar, 2009b: 3). The spread of Catholic and Protestant missionary schools increased education levels in Lebanon (Issawi, 1992: 4). What is remarkable...

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