Census shows there are 174,422 Palestinians in Lebanon

The first official census of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has revealed that there are 174,422 Palestinians now living in Lebanon, a figure almost two thirds less than previously estimated.

The Palestinians — both original refugees and their descendants — were believed to number about 450,000 but tens of thousands emigrated from Lebanon in over the past decades, seeking better opportunities.

The census released Thursday was conducted by the Lebanese Central Administration of Statistics and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Lebanon took in the influx of Palestinians that fled after Israel's creation in 1948. Their numbers are a touchy issue in Lebanon where they are seen as potentially upsetting the delicate sectarian balance.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says the census ended speculation about the exact numbers.