The history of Lebanon is almost as old as the earliest evidence of humankind. At different periods of its history, Lebanon has come under the domination of foreign rulers, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Armenians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, and French.
Lebanon’s mountainous terrain has provided it with a certain protective isolation, enabling it to survive with an identity all its own. Its proximity to the sea has ensured that throughout its history Lebanon has held an important position as a trading center.This tradition of commerce began with the Phoenicians and continued through many centuries, remaining almost unaffected by foreign rule and the worst periods of internal fighting. The name Lebanon comes from the Semitic root lbn, meaning white, likely a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon. Occurrences of the name have been found in texts from the library of Ebla, which date to the third millennium BC, nearly 70 times in the Hebrew Bible, and three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh.Ancient history. Evidence of the earliest known settlements in Lebanon was found in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and date back to earlier than 5000 BC.
Archaeologists discovered remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars left by the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who on lived the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago. Lebanon was the homeland of the Phoenicians, a seafaring people that spread across the Mediterranean.After two centuries of Persian rule, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great attacked and burned Tyre, the most prominent Phoenician city. Throughout the subsequent centuries leading up to recent times, the country became part of numerous succeeding empires, among them Persian, Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Arab, Seljuk, Mamluk, Crusader, and Ottoman. French mandate and independence Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, until 1918 when the area became a part of the French Mandate of Syria following World War I.By the end of the war, famine had killed an estimated 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Lebanon was a largely Christian mainly Maronite enclave but also included areas containing many Muslims including Druze.
On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. The Republic was afterward a separate entity from Syria but still administered under the French Mandate of Syria. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany.
The French reacted by throwing the new government into prison. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943 and accepted the independence of Lebanon. Lebanon’s unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Maronite Christian, its speaker of the parliament to be a Shiite Muslim, its prime minister be Sunni Muslim, and the deputy speaker of Parliament be Greek Orthodox.
Civil war and beyond In 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon.The Lebanese Civil War lasted fifteen years, devastating the country’s economy, and resulting in massive loss of human life and property. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 wounded. Some 900,000 people, representing one-fifth of the pre-war population, were displaced from their homes.
The war ended in 1990 with the signing of the Taif Agreement and parts of Lebanon were left in ruins. During the civil war, the Palestine Liberation Organization used Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel.Lebanon was twice invaded and occupied by the Israel Defense Forces in 1978 and 1982.
Israel remained in control of Southern Lebanon until 2000, when there was a general decision, led by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to withdraw because of continuous attacks executed by Hezbollah, and a belief that the violence would diminish and dissolve without the Israeli presence in Lebanon, although a border region called the Shebaa Farms is still disputed. Hezbollah declared that it would not stop its operations against Israel until this area was liberated.Cedar Revolution On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion. This incident triggered a series of demonstrations, dubbed the ‘Cedar Revolution’ by the media, which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1595 on 7 April 2005, which called for an investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri.By 26 April 2005, all uniformed Syrian soldiers had already crossed the border back to Syria. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassination attempts that resulted in the loss of many prominent Lebanese figures. 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli border towns.
In Lebanon, air strikes caused serious damage to Lebanon’s civil infrastructure including Beirut’s airport, and were followed by Israel’s ground forces moving into areas of Lebanon militarily controlled by Hezbollah fighters.The conflict officially ended on 14 August 2006, when the United Nations Security Council issued resolution 1701 ordering a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel. Geography and climate Lebanon is located in Western Asia. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, by Syria to the east and north, and by Israel to the south. Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate. In coastal areas, winters are generally cool and rainy whilst summers are hot and humid. In more elevated reas, temperatures usually drop below freezing during the winter with frequent, sometimes heavy snow; summers are warm and dry. Although most of Lebanon receives a relatively large amount of rainfall annually, certain areas in north-eastern Lebanon receive little because of the high peaks of the western mountain front blocking much of the rain clouds that originate over the Mediterranean Sea.
In ancient times, Lebanon housed large forests of the Cedars of Lebanon, which now serve as the country’s national symbol.National flag. The national flag of Lebanon, created shortly after independence in 1943, consists of three horizontal bands; the top and bottom bands are red and of equivalent size, each consisting of 1/4 of the flag’s surface, while the larger, middle band is white with a green cedar tree fixed at its center and consists of 1/2 of the flag’s surface. The cedar tree, an emblem of Lebanon, symbolizes survival, and red symbolizes the blood shed for independence. The top and bottom of the cedar touch the edge of both red bands.
Lebanon observes Christian and Muslim holidays; national holidays are also observed.