The land area that today constitutes the Republic of Lebanon lies at a geographical and cultural intersection between the Middle East and Europe, on the Mediterranean, and was from an early center of trade, both for export of own goods and transit of other products. The name originally referred to the Lebanon Mountains, which extend north to south through most of the country, and in its Semitic origin has the meaning “white”, which is believed to reflect the snow-covered mountains.
Lebanon as a political geographical entity is of relatively new date, and precursors to today’s Lebanon have been of varying scope and to varying degrees subject to other powers. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Lebanon. For over a thousand years, however, there has been some continuity, with local rulers based in the Lebanese mountains exercising control or influence over the Mediterranean coast and the surrounding mountains. However, the major coastal cities and the fertile plains of the south and east – today’s southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley – did not become unambiguously part of Lebanon until the country was proclaimed a state in 1920.
The Arab conquests of the Levant in the 7th century had made Lebanon a predominantly Arab country, but language, culture and place names still carry a strong mark on both Aramaic precursors and later Turkish-Ottoman and French influence.
The fact that the mountains of Lebanon have served as a safe haven for religious minorities and heterodox faiths, combined with the varied external influences, has made the country more culturally and religiously composed than other states in the region. While the area was relatively an overlooked province during the Great Empires, religious minority groups became a gateway to increased European intervention in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th century, and after World War II, Lebanon became suddenly strategically important as a result of the establishment of Israel as a neighbor. in the south.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Lebanon on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Lebanon.
In ancient times, parts of Lebanon were part of Phenicia, inhabited by the Semitic peoples of the Canaanites, and the country is rich in ancient monuments. Already from around 3000 BCE. Lebanon’s coastal cities of Tyros (Tyr) and Sayda (Sidon) were leading trading centers in the Levant; Jbeil (Byblos) and Berytus (Beirut) were centers of trade and religion.
The Phoenicians were leading seafarers and established trade routes over large areas as well as colonies in Spain, North Africa and on several islands in the Mediterranean: Crete, Cyprus, Rhodes, Sardinia and Sicily. One of many commodities was Lebanon’s famous cedar, which was imported by Egypt’s Pharaohs and later used for the building of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The Phoenicians were also known as craftsmen, and glassware and metalwork were important export products.
At times, the Phoenician trading centers were independent city-states, partly under Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian and eventually Roman rule. The Assyrian government deprived the Phoenician city states of their independence and prosperity. A rebellion in Sidon was struck down 677 BCE, destroying the city and enslaving its inhabitants. New rebellions took place against Babylonian rule when, among other Tyros, resisted a siege for 13 years, but had to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar II in 573 BCE.
The country came under Persian rule when the Persians took Babylon in 538 BCE, and the Phoenicians supported the Persians in the wars against Greece. In 332 BCE. Alexander destroyed the great Tyros and sold the inhabitants as slaves. In 64 BCE Lebanon was admitted under the Roman Empire as part of the province of Syria and experienced economic and cultural progress, which continued during the Byzantine period. In the 600s, Lebanon was invaded by Persian forces, and the devastation and weakening of the war brought the country open to Arab invasion and conquest in 637-639.
For the next centuries, the region’s inhabitants lived in relative peace, ruled by Muslim rulers in Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo. As early as the 500s, Christians, the predecessors of the later Maronites, settled in the mountains of Lebanon, establishing local chief judges who, for long periods, were partially independent in the Muslim environment. Around the year 1000, the religious sect grew into drudgery and settled in southern Lebanon.
In the 1000s, Lebanon was conquered by the Turkish ill-souls, later by the European crusaders, who, with the support of the Maronite Christians in the mountains of Lebanon, established several fortresses and kingdoms in the country. Tripoli fell in 1109, Beirut and Saida in 1110, and Tyr in 1124, but the crusader dominance ended with the Mamluk conquest in 1291.
From the 11th century, Shiites immigrated from Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula and settled especially in the Bekaa and Keserwan region. The Shiites and the Drusians rebelled in 1291, while the Mamluks fought against Crusaders and Mongols, but the rebellion was still fought in 1308. In order to avoid persecution, a large part of the Shi’a then moved to the southern part of the country, where they have recently played. a central political and military role.
From Ottoman to French rule
Syria, which at that time also included today’s Lebanon, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1516. Until then, the area was ruled by the Egyptian Mamluk Sultans, while the Maronites ruled themselves under their own chiefs and emirs in the Lebanese mountains. Large parts of the Lebanon Mountains and surrounding areas had an extensive degree of self-government under local chieftains and clan leaders during the Ottoman period, including the Tanukh emir of the north and the Druze emir of the south, until the mid-1800s.
In the late 16th century, Emir Fakhr-al-Din Maan assembled large parts of the Lebanese mountains into an autonomous emirate under the Ottoman Empire, establishing the basis for Lebanon as a political entity. Fakhr-al-Din’s emirate was later expanded to include parts of present-day Syria and Lebanon, and in the early 1600s he established diplomatic relations with Tuscany and Florence and gained expertise from Italy to modernize the empire.
In the 19th century, the Lebanese emirate attempted to disengage from the Ottomans and allied with Egypt, which conquered Damascus in 1832. The Drusians and Maronites revolted against the Egyptian regime in 1840, and Ottoman, British and Austrian troops landed in Lebanon., after which the Egyptians withdrew.
Increased unrest helped European powers to propose in 1842, and allowed Lebanon to be divided into a Christian (Maronite) northern part and a Drusian southern part. The division led to increased contradictions between the groups, which were in addition supported by their own great power (the Maronites of France, the Drusters of Britain), while the Ottomans reinforced the divide to regain control of themselves.
In 1858, Maronite peasants rebelled against their feudal lords, after which the Druze leaders in 1860 took action against the Maronites. The attack may have cost as many as 20,000 Christian lives, and brought considerable international attention. The absence of intervention by the Ottoman Empire led France, as self-proclaimed patron of the Maronites, to intervene militarily in 1860. In 1861, the mountains of Lebanon were separated from Syria and reunited under a Christian governor appointed by an Ottoman sultan, after which the mountains of Lebanon in 1864 became a self-governed province of the Ottoman Empire, ruled by a Catholic Ottoman governor approved by the great powers.
Self-government ended with the Ottoman invasion of the Lebanese mountains during World War I in 1915. Although Lebanon was spared combat operations during the war, the Ottoman Empire’s participation in the German side during the war had dramatic consequences. The Lebanon Mountains depended on agricultural products from Ottoman Syria, but from 1914 all supplies were given priority to the Ottoman army, while the Allies maintained a trade blockade in the eastern Mediterranean that would affect the Ottoman war effort. When a locust swarm destroyed most of Lebanon’s limited crops in 1915, the disaster was a fact. It has been estimated that up to half of today’s 400,000 Lebanese people starved to death over the next three years.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, at the San Remo Conference in 1920, the Allies gave France a mandate to govern today’s Lebanon and Syria to prepare the countries for autonomy and independence. France established Greater Lebanon by adding areas in the north, south and Bekaa Valley, which historically belonged to Syria.
Thus, modern state formation was created, and significant Muslim groups, primarily Sunnis, were incorporated into the new state. This meant that Christians were no longer numerically dominant in Lebanon, although they were still in the majority, and that significant sections of the Muslim population had stronger ties of loyalty to their faiths in Syria and the Arab world.
The Republic of Lebanon was proclaimed May 23, 1926, with Charles Debbas as the country’s first president and a modern constitution, but France still retained real power through its high commissioner. The constitution did not define Lebanon’s borders, which was a clear sign that France still perceived Lebanon and Syria as an integral part of their sphere of interest. France repealed the Constitution in 1932 and appointed a new president. In 1935 elections were again held, won by Émile Eddé.
At the outbreak of World War II, the Lebanese constitution was suspended again and the parliament dissolved by the French High Commissioner. The French administration in Lebanon and Syria joined the Vichy government, and in the summer of 1941 the two countries were conquered by British and free French forces. Lebanon’s independence was proclaimed on November 26, 1941, and in September 1943 elections were held where Bechara al-Khoury was elected president.
French troops arrested the president and almost the entire government and repealed the constitution in November 1943. This led to major demonstrations in Lebanon, and after diplomatic pressure on Britain, France surrendered and reinstated the government with all powers. The release date, November 22, has since been Lebanon’s national day, although France did not officially transfer power to the Lebanese government until January 1, 1944. After further Lebanese and British pressure, France withdrew its forces in 1946, and Lebanon became truly independent.. At the same time, it was agitated for a union with Syria, especially in the Sunni-dominated areas.
A governance form that took into account Lebanon’s religious composition, the unwritten ” national pact,” was designed in 1943 and first amended by the Taif Agreement in 1989. The form was based on a 1932 census that showed a 54 percent Christian majority and which therefore gave a composition of the National Assembly of 6: 5 in the relationship between Christians and Muslims. In addition, it was stated that the country’s president should be a Maronite and the Prime Minister of Sunni, Parliament’s Shia President, Chief of Defense Maronite and Chief of Staff are dropping. Other higher offices should also be distributed according to religious affiliation.
The system of distribution of power between religious groups is called confessionalism. In addition to regulating the purely technical distribution of power, the national pact also had two additional functions. It was intended to secure Christian Lebanese political takeover in Lebanon, through a majority in parliament and the exclusive right to the presidency, to curb Christian fears of being engulfed by a regional Muslim majority. In addition, Christians should guarantee Lebanon’s independence from French or other Western interference, while Muslims should let go of aspirations for union with Syria.
Lebanon has not had a real census since 1932, and it is believed that Muslims, and especially Shia Muslims, now constitute a significantly larger proportion of the population. As part of the Taif agreement reached at the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975-1991, the distribution of parliamentary seats was changed to 5: 5 between Christians and Muslims, and both prime minister and parliament president were allowed to extend their powers at the expense of the president.
Although the National Pact had some stabilizing effect politically, social tensions were increasing throughout the 1950s and 1960s, much due to very rapid urbanization. Although the emergence of Lebanon as a regional cultural and trade center had begun as early as the mid-1800s, this process accelerated in the mid-1900s. Rural populations, especially in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, were driven towards Beirut as a result of the government’s downgrading of peripheral areas and the increasing job opportunities in the capital.
The lack of urban planning and the ability to absorb hundreds of thousands of new residents led to the creation of unregulated suburbs, and many of the newly-settled residents lived in this so-called “poverty belt” around Beirut. The fact that the new immigrants were mainly Muslims who lacked social networks in the big city, in addition to a system that did little to equalize economic differences, was a contributing factor to both social and political unrest until the 1970s.
Lebanon experienced several periods of conflict from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Although separated from each other, there was a connection between them, as they emerged partly from fundamental contradictions in Lebanese society, and partly as a result of the regional conflicts Lebanon gradually became entangled in from the mid-1970s.
The first military confrontation between Lebanese groups took place in 1958. A radicalized Egypt then joined with Syria in the United Arab Republic (UAR), which was perceived as a threat by Lebanese pro-Western Christians, while pro-Arab Muslims joined Egypt. President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In addition, President Camille Chamoun provoked his opponents by trying to get elected to a new presidential term, which was unconstitutional.
After general strikes and extensive unrest in Tripoli, Beirut, Saida and Tyr, the case was brought before the UN. In June 1958, the Security Council decided to send a military observer corps to Lebanon, with Norwegian participation and commander: United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL), led by Major General Odd Bull. After rebels took control of parts of the major cities as well as large areas north and south of the country, Lebanon’s President Camille Chamoun asked in July 1958 for US assistance.
Thanks to the UAR and Abdel Nasser’s ties to the Soviet Union, the rebellions in Lebanon could easily be linked to the spread of international communism, and this during the Cold War was enough pretext for the Eisenhower administration. Over 10,000 US soldiers were sent to Beirut, and when the conflict reached a settlement in October, the US force was withdrawn, followed by UNOGIL two months later. Chamoun had to step down, and was followed by consensus candidate General Fuad Chehab, who achieved relative stability in Lebanon through a balanced policy and expansion of the state apparatus.
Cairo Agreement of 1969, signed after talks between the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Arafat, and the Lebanese army commander Emile Bustani, gave the PLO the right to operate in Lebanese refugee camps in Lebanon, and recruit, train and arm the Palestinians for actions against Israel from Lebanese territory. The agreement also lifted Lebanese security forces’ jurisdiction over Palestinian refugee camps, thereby allowing the PLO to create a kind of state in Lebanon, and Palestinian paramilitary groups had in effect far beyond the camps.
That same year, there were clashes between Palestinian guerrillas and a Christian Phalangists -milits and clashes between Palestinian groups and the Lebanese army. After the Black September civil war in Jordan, where the PLO fought against the Jordanian army, the PLO was forced to relocate its headquarters to Lebanon. The expanded Palestinian presence in Lebanon from the early 1970s helped reinforce already deep contradictions, with increasing polarization and militarization both on the left and right.
While the 1958 conflict did not develop into war, it did so in the mid-1970s, and Lebanon was thrown into a series of armed conflicts in the period 1975-1909, collectively referred to as the Lebanese Civil War.