Capital Beirut Languages The official language for Lebanon is Arabic while French, English and Armenian are also commonly used. Religions There are 18 officially recognised religious groups. Their ecclesiastical and demographic patterns are extremely complex. Many observers believe that Muslims constitute a majority the population (59.7%), but they do not represent a homogenous group. Heterogeneous Christian denominations constitute most of the remainder of the population (39%). There is also a small Israelite population, traditionally centered in Beirut. There are also some negligible numbers of Baha"is, Buddhists, and Hindus. The main branches of Islam are the majority Shi"a and the minority Sunni. Since the Eleventh century, there has been a sizable Druze presence, concentrated in rural, mountainous areas east and south of Beirut. The smallest Muslim groups are the Ismaili ("Sevener") Shi’a order. The Alawites are a community who are nominally Muslims, but whose beliefs vary widely from Islam. The "Twelver" Shi’a, Sunni, and Druze each have state-appointed clerical bodies to administer family and personal status law through their own religious courts, which are subsidised by the State. The Maronites are the largest of the Christian groups. They have had a long and continuous association with the Catholic Church, but have their own patriarch, liturgy, and customs. The second largest Christian group is the Greek Orthodox Church. The remainder of the Christians are divided among Greek Catholics, Armenian Orthodox (Gregorians), Armenian Catholics, Syrian Orthodox (Jacobites) (Aramean), Syrian Catholics (Aramean), (Nestorians) (Assyrian), Chaldeans (Assyrian), Copts (Egyptian), Evangelicals (including Protestant groups such as the Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Friends), and Latins (Roman Catholics). Economy Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the HARIRI government began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and privatizing state enterprises. In November 2002, the government met with international donors at the Paris II conference to seek bilateral assistance in restructuring its massive domestic debt at lower rates of interest. Substantial receipts from donor nations stabilized government finances in 2003, but did little to reduce the debt, which stood at nearly 180% of GDP. In 2004 the HARIRI government issued Eurobonds in an effort to manage maturing debt, and the KARAMI government has continued this practice. However, privatization of state-owned enterprises had not occurred by the end of 2004, as promised during the Paris II conference.