In Lebanese soil, remains have been found for
people who lived there about 200,000 years ago, but the
area's history is known through written sources only
from about 3000 BC.
The small area that makes up Lebanon today had good
ports. Along the coast, and through the Beka Valley, two
central roads for caravans and warlords followed.
Control over these trade routes was attractive to
conquerors. The only thing Lebanon itself could offer
was good quality cedar.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Lebanon, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
On the coast, some 3,000 years before Christ lived a
Semitic people, the Canaanites, better known by their
Greek name the Phoenicians. They built fortified cities
along the coast and as skilled boatbuilders they were
able to expand their empire around large parts of the
Mediterranean. After a heyday of 400 years, the
Phoenicians were oppressed by Assyria to the east. Then
the Persians came further east, from present-day Iran.
At the same time, Greece emerged as a shipping nation.
At the battle of Salami's 480 years before Christ
between Persians and Greeks, the Phoenicians were
incorporated into the Persian Empire.
Alexander the Great conquered Lebanon today in the
330s BC. The century before the beginning of our era,
the Romans arrived. From the 300s the area was ruled
from Christian Ístrom (Byzantium). Struggles between the
Persians and the Byzantine Empire facilitated the
conquest of the Arabs in the 600s. The entire region on
the eastern Mediterranean coast went to the Arabs after
the Battle of Yarmuk on the Jordan River in 636.
But Lebanon retained its Christian character until
the 8th century. Then Arab tribes settled near Beirut
and became a counterpost to the Christian Maronites. A
little later, groups of Shi'a Muslims and Drusians also
began to establish themselves. Islamic politics was
gentle on Christians who were largely left in peace.
For more than a thousand years, Lebanon was ruled by
Muslim great powers. The crusade period in the 12th and
13th centuries, when Christian crusaders ravaged, meant
an unwelcome change for the Muslim rulers. In 1251 the
Egyptian Mamluks took over Lebanon and a period of war
and hardship ensued. In 1516, today's Lebanon was
incorporated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The
Turkish sultan gave the occupied peoples a great measure
of self-government, but in the 1830s the Turks tried to
gain better control over the area. A peasant uprising
broke out in the mid-19th century when poor Maronites
rose up against Drusian feudal lords. The uprising
mainly had social causes, but France and other European
great powers interfered in demanding better conditions
for the Christians. The Ottoman Empire was forced to
promise that Mount Lebanon, part of the province of
Syria, would be administered under a Christian governor.
After World War I, in 1920, the League of Nations
gave France a mandate to administer Lebanon and Syria,
as an area. In Damascus, Arab leaders tried to rebel
against the French, but leading Lebanese who were
Maronites were satisfied with French rule. Lebanon was
separated from Syria to become a favored French colony.
But instead of drawing the new border around the
Christian core area at Mount Lebanon, the French chose a
larger territory. As a result, Muslim groups in the area
of France ended up as a Christian state. Many in the
Arab world, not just in Syria, still see the border as
In 1926, France gave Lebanon a certain autonomy - and
the world's oldest constitution. Towards the end of the
1930s, the Lebanese demanded increased
self-determination, but in 1939 France regained control.
This united the Lebanese opposition, which in 1943
agreed on the so-called National Pact, an agreement on
how the religious communities in Lebanon would divide
power. A census of 1932 was established as the basis for
the division of power, which showed that the Christians
were in the majority.
The Pact allocated the highest offices (see
Political system). The larger groups would be
represented in the government while others were left
outside. The mandate in Parliament and other important
posts would be added according to the principle of 5: 6,
that is, for five Muslims there would be six Christians.
When, during World War II, France split between the
German-friendly Vichy government and General Charles de
Gaulle's Free French forces, the French administration
in Beirut chose to ally with Vichy. It was seen as a
threat to British interests in the region. Britain
occupied Lebanon in 1941 with the French exile
government troops. Exiller de Gaulle realized that he
needed the Lebanese on his side and agreed that the
country was declared independent in November of that
year. However, the surrender of power led to conflicts
and dragged on over time. It was not until December 31,
1946, that Lebanon was free of foreign soldiers.
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More deaths after further clashes
A group of 14 Sunni Muslim Lebanese and Palestinians are shot dead in a
border town in Syria. They are believed to have been on their way to engage on
the part of the rebels in the civil war in Syria. The incident leads to new
clashes between Alawites and Sunni Muslims in Tripoli and up to twenty people
lose their lives. Far more people are injured.
Intelligence service leaders are killed
The head of the country's internal intelligence service, Wissam al-Hassan, is
killed by a car bomb in central Beirut. A total of eight people lose their lives
in the attack. Al-Hassan was a well-known Syrian critic, and the opposition
accuses Syria of being behind the bomb. The council triggered extensive
demonstrations in Beirut and in a number of other cities. The protesters protest
against Syria and the country's government. In Tripoli, three people, including
two children, are killed in the unrest that is taking place. Prime Minister
Najib Mikati offers to resign but is asked to stay at his post by President
At the end of the month, fifteen people, including a Sunni Muslim priest, are
killed in a new outbreak of violence between Alawites and Sunni Muslims in
Tripoli. Over a hundred people are injured.
Several dead in clashes
Ten people lose their lives in new clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites
Clashes between Alawites and Sunni Muslims
Sunni Muslims and Alawites hit Tripoli at the end of the month and five
people are killed. A few days later, unrest spreads to Beirut, where a few
people are reported to have been killed and about twenty injured in clashes
between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime.
Struggles between Alawites and Sunni Muslims
Struggles occur in the city of Tripoli between Alawites, ie Shia Muslims
belonging to the same minority as Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and Sunni
Muslims who feel solidarity with Sunni neighboring rebels. At least two people
are reported killed in the fighting.
Trial will be held despite absence
The Hariri tribunal announces that it will hold a trial even though the four
Hezbollah members suspected of Hariri's murder have not been able to be arrested
and therefore unable to attend.