From ancient times, Lebanon has been a centre of entrepreneurship. Lebanese who move abroad are noted for excelling in the fields of business, banking, technology and manufacturing.
The 16-year civil war damaged the country's economy. In the last decade, the government has regained control of important ports, worked to revitalize business and manufacturing, and re-established what was once a very important banking industry. So far, the economy has been showing steady recovery and stability, and Lebanon has been able to rebuild much of its damaged infrastructure. However, tourism revenue, once a mainstay of the economy, is still low. The gap between rich and poor remains high, as does unemployment. Currently, the government enforces a minimum working wage and is working to develop a comprehensive social welfare system as part of its Horizon 2000 investment program.
The service sector is Lebanon's largest employer, with many people working as government and bank employees, teachers and business owners. Stores and private businesses maintain hours much like those in Europe and North America. People usually obtain jobs through personal connections, as opposed to résumés and formal job interviews.
Many women now work in Lebanon, particularly since the civil war significantly raised the inflation level. Some have entered into the upper professions as lawyers, doctors, teachers and bankers, though many are still employed in traditional jobs like administrative work.
Agriculture and industry are Lebanon's second largest employers. Lebanon's main cash crop is fruits, particularly citrus fruits, apples, grapes, bananas and olives; other agricultural exports are vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes, tobacco and livestock. Before the war, Lebanon was also a major producer of opium and hashish; today, the government sponsors programs that encourage farmers of these products to switch to staple crops. Overall, the civil war greatly disrupted the agriculture sector, and farmers still do not have access to credit to rejuvenate their businesses.
Lebanon's industries were also damaged by the war and are still recovering. The manufacturing sector has produced mostly food products, jewelry, construction materials, textiles, wood and wood products, and chemicals.