To estimate the population growth in Kfarsghab, we have different sources, somewhat contradictory, even in the 20th Century.
Sources and Estimations
|The 16th Century|
Given the figures on taxation (1), we can estimate the population of Kfarsghab in 1571 AD
around 432 people (about 72 males). But the same source attributed to Kfarsghab 12 males for 1571,
which gives us 79 inhabitants (the rule: number of males multiplied by 6.6).
For 1519, the same source recorded 14 males that gives 92 inhabitants. In
both census, all males in Kfarsghab are Christians and married.
Around the beginning of the seventeenth century, Kfarsghab seems to have merged with the
neighboring village of Qaryat Moussa.
Qaryat Moussa was a village of the same size of Kfarsghab. It is possible that Kfarsghab doubled its size around 1600 due to this merge.
The 19th Century
The first figure we have at our disposal dates to 1829 and attributes to Kfarsghab 125 Houses.
If we consider the average size of a household to be of 11, then the number of
inhabitants of Kfarsghab was of 1,375. The census of 1849 made state of 374 males and 80 houses, that is to say roughly a total of
1,870 people (number of males multiplied by 5).
According to a recent study (2)
, 344 males lived in Kfarsghab in 1862, that is to say
1,720 inhabitants. In 1889, the number of inhabitants was estimated to 1,100 (3).
For Year 1900, the same study (4)
reports 330 male adults, 950 inhabitants
and 150 emigrants for Kfarsghab. 250 male adults were married, which represents
76% to be compared to the average of 70% of married men in Jebbet Bcharri. The
emigration represents 14% of the population of Kfarsghab lower than the average
of the emigration of Jebbet Bcharri (24%).
The 20th Century
Kfarsghab counted 1,250 inhabitants and 250 emigrants in 1903 (5)
. In the census of 1924, Kfarsghab is reported to have
925 inhabitants. In 1927, the population was estimated to 862 (6)
. In 1932, 194 houses were listed, that is to say 1,552 inhabitants (personal estimation of
8 persons / house). The Geography Service of the French Forces of The Levant estimates the population to
2,004 people in his third edition of August 1945. In 1970, 850 people were
living in Kfarsghab, 200 houses and 325 voters (7)
Today, living in the village, there are approximately 900 people.
Context and Explanations
Kfarsghab was a modest village up to the middle of the eighteenth century.
Kfarsghab seems to witness a decrease in its population between 1519 and 1571 of -3 per mil / year.
Some historians attribute this kind of decrease to the economic difficulties of the 16th Century in the Middle East,
but also to the struggle between Maronites and Jacobites (Syriac Orthodox).
Kfarsghab being situated in the middle of the the four historical centers of Jacobites in the region
- Bqoufa, Bane, Hadchit and Bcharri -, we could suppose, without risk, that some Jacobites were
implemented in Kfarsghab and were obliged to flee the region after they lost the support of Bcharri's Muqaddams around 1550's.
We know from both census that Kfarsghab was inhabited by Christians but we do
not know if they were Jacobites or Maronites.
It is possible that the actual village results from the fusion of two villages
- Kfarsghab and the extinct village of Qaryat Moussa - somewhere at the beginning of the
seventeenth century (8)
The development of Kfarsghab may have started at the end of the seventeenth century. During the previous period and under the influence of the political and economic
favorable terms of the Southern Mount Lebanon under the emir Fakhr-Eddine Al Maani
(1590-1633), a movement of migration took place from the North to the South, depopulating thus the region of Kfarsghab. In the eighteenth century, the movement was reversed after the death of Fakhreddine and the difficulties of his successors (1633-1697). The popular tradition notes the arrival of newcomers in Kfarsghab at the end of the period of the Maans: from the coastal cities, Batroun for Abou Mansour Al
Bahri, Jbeil-Benta3il for Abou Youssef Elias and from the mountain region of Kesrouan-Jeita
for Khoury Giris-Habqouq. For this latter family, according to some sources, it
came from the Metn region, Bikfaya specifically (9)
According to others, it came from the village of Bcheeli in the Batroun
But it is especially, under the energetic action of an exceptional man, Sheikh Abou Youssef Elias
1785) : Purchase of Morh in 1748, Establishment of Okta'at Kfarsghab in 1759, Construction of Saint Awtel church in 1776, Expulsion of the Hamadeh in 1777, ... and that of his successors Sheik Youssef (d. 1835) and Sheikh Antonios (d. 1844), that Kfarsghab will truly make political, economic, and demographic strides from 1750 till around 1840. The silk industry as a cash-crop, combined with a better organization- Morh migration in wintertime- and a lesser political and taxation pressure- the departure of the Hamadeh governors in the 1770's-, favored largely this demographical boom.
From the 1840's, we see for instance more monks from Kfarsghab in the Monastery of Qozhaya (up to 60 monks), what is an obvious sign of an important population growth.
A baby boom seems to have happened between 1820 and 1850. The decrease between 1849 and 1862 could be easily attributed to the important numbers of young people joining the Monks Orders
. In 1900, the census counted 13
monks among its children, with a ratio of 1 monk per 85 inhabitants to be
compared to 1,300 in Bcharri and 812 in Ehden (11)
From the 1870's, the economic (silk industry crisis) and political (Youssef Bey Karam difficulties) conditions becoming less favorable,
an interior migration started slowly then accelerated in the 1880's towards America and Australia. It is estimated by several sources that one-third of the Mount-Lebanon male population left the country between 1880 and 1900. Kfarsghab is no exception to those statistics.
The phenomenon of return from emigration in the beginning of the 20th Century seems to be important for Kfarsghab
. This is confirmed easily by the important number of modern houses built during this period in Kfarsghab. The First World
War halted the emigration to start again modestly in the 1920's. But the
economic crisis of 1929, the privileged political position of the Estephan family during the French Mandate (1920-1946) and the Second World War will favor the growth of population
from 1930 to the 1950. The population will to start declining again massively from the 1950's.