Tuesday, February 13, 2007

History of Lebanon

History of Lebanon. This is a brief history of the perpetually troubled middle eastern nation of Lebanon. The emphasis is on recent history.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Officially Republic of Lebanon , Arabic Lubnan , or al-Jumhuriyah al-Lubnaniyah country located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Consisting of a narrow strip of territory approximately 135 miles (215 kilometres) long from north to south and 20 to 55 miles wide from east to west, the country is bounded to the north and east by Syria and to the south by Israel. Lebanon is one of the world's smaller sovereign states. The capital is Beirut."

From the site:

Lebanon is the historic home of the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished there for more than 2,000 years (c.2700-450 B.C.). In later centuries, Lebanon's mountains were a refuge for Christians, and Crusaders established several strongholds there. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the League of Nations mandated the five provinces that had comprised present-day Lebanon to France. Modern Lebanon's constitution, drawn up in 1926, specified a balance of political power between the various religious groups. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946.

Lebanon's history from independence has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade. In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun's term, an insurrection broke out, and U.S. forces were briefly dispatched to Lebanon in response to an appeal by the government. During the 1960s, Lebanon enjoyed a period of relative calm and Beirut-focused tourism and banking sector-driven prosperity. Other areas of the country, however, notably the South, North, and Bekaa Valley, experienced increasing impoverishment.

In the early 1970s, difficulties arose over the presence of Palestinian refugees, many of whom arrived after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and "Black September" 1970 hostilities in Jordan. Among the latter were Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Coupled with the Palestinian problem, Muslim and Christian differences grew more intense.

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