Record number of visitors to Lebanon: ministry

Lebanon welcomed just over two million tourists in the first 11 months of this year, a record number despite months of political tensions between the two main ruling camps, according to tourism ministry figures released Monday.

The number of tourist arrivals was 17.6 percent higher than the same period last year and is "an all time record high," according to Bank Audi's Lebanon Weekly Monitor, quoting latest ministry figures.

Arab visitors accounted for about 41 percent of the total, followed by Europeans with 25 percent.

Lebanon, a small Mediterranean country with plenty of greenery and mountains, has a population of four million.

Since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war it has witnessed political assassinations, war between Israel and Hezbollah, fighting between the army and Islamists, and intercommunal clashes.

Following a relatively peaceful 2009, tensions have risen once again over reportedly imminent indictments by a UN tribunal probing the 2005 murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

The court is reportedly set to indict senior operatives of the Shiite Hezbollah, the most powerful military force in the country, raising fears that could trigger instability and violence.

The tensions have divided the unity government into Hezbollah and its supporters and a camp led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the assassinated ex-premier's son.

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