Lebanon’s prehistory runs partly parallel to that of present-day Israel. Tool finds indicate that humans (Homo erectus) have been living in the area already about 1.5 million years ago. From the younger Stone Age (c. 8300-4800 BC), settlements are located near Byblos. Although the Lebanese coast lacks natural ports, the coastal cities of Byblos and Tyros emerged during the early Bronze Age (3100-2450 BC), both with lively trade links with Egypt. Cedar, purple and agricultural products were attractive export goods. From the Middle Bronze Age (2450-1550 BC), several port cities are documented, from Arwad in the north to Akko in the south. During the troubled 1300s and 1200s BC Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyros and Akko formed an urban association.
Lebanon’s Canaanite Iron Age population, known by the Israelites as Sidonians and by the Greeks Phoenicians, were skilled shipbuilders and navigators. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Lebanon. Also in the arts, including ceramics, ivory and glassmaking, weaving and textile dyeing (purple and scarlet), and not least in the development of alphabetic writing they became style-forming (compare Phenicia). When King Solomon built his temple in Jerusalem in the 9th century, he used craftsmen from Lebanon. From the 7th century BC the Phoenician culture spread all the way to North Africa and Spain and new colonies were founded, including Carthage. The home country, on the other hand, was looted, among other things. on cedar, of Assyrians and Babylonians.
Between 559 and 333 BC Lebanon was part of the fifth satrapi (province) of the Persian Empire and the population was forcibly recruited in the Persians’ fighting against the Greeks. When King Straton of Sidon began contacts with the latter, Artaxerxes III burned down the city in 350 BC. After the Battle of Issos 333 BC all cities opened their gates to Alexander the Great except Tyros, who was destroyed. During the Seleukidic regime after Alexander’s death, extensive Hellenization took place.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Lebanon. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
With Pompey’s conquests 64 BC Lebanon was incorporated in the Roman province of Syria. During the period around 70-170 AD several new cities were erected, and Bekadalen was an important cultural and religious center. Greek remained the general language; Latin was used almost exclusively in Berytus (Beirut), which became a center of Roman law and university city. Baalbek, originally a shrine to Hadad, became, like Heliopolis, a center of Jupiter and Venus cult.
The Apostle Paul founded a Christian congregation in Tyros, which also became the first bishop’s seat. During Östrom and Byzan’s (324 – about 640), very severe earthquakes occurred, especially in 551. At this time, Christian Lebanon was now divided into the provinces of Phenicia Prima or Maritima, Coele Syria and Phenicia Secunda. So the political situation remained until the Arab conquest.
Lebanon was conquered in the 630s by the Arabs, who spread Islam and the Arabic language, but Christians and Jews were allowed to keep their faith. Mount Lebanon came to be a sheltered place for persecuted Christian sects, including the Maronites, who, in the late 800s, fled Syria. They succeeded in gradually establishing control of the mountain and lived virtually independently. A few centuries later, the Drusians found refuge in persecution in the mountain southeast of Beirut, as did Shia Muslims who settled in the Beka Valley in the 1000-1200s. The Arab empire meant greater prosperity and investment in education and research. However, Beirut’s role as a trading town declined.
By the end of the 11th century, Crusaders conquered Lebanon; its northern part became part of the county of Tripoli, its southern part of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The sense of belonging to Europe, especially France, that many of today’s Maronites can still trace back to the Crusades, when they occasionally allied themselves with the Crusaders. Throughout history, Lebanon has been characterized by religious and ethnic minorities with strong traits of feudalism and customer thinking, where loyalty to their own group has been strengthened in times of concern. At the end of the 13th century, Lebanon came under Egyptian rule (the Mamluks).
In 1516, the country was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, who, however, allowed significant autonomy with autonomy for the religious communities. Otherwise, the Ottoman era meant some stagnation. In the 1830s, the Turks took direct control of Lebanon. As a result of religious contradictions between Maronites and Druzes, a peasant revolt in 1860 degenerated into a Druze massacre of the Maronites. France intervened in 1864 with troops to protect the Maronites and demanded a special protection regime for Mount Lebanon, which would be ruled by a Christian governor, appointed by the Sultan but approved by France.
A modus vivendi was established as early as 1860 between the Maronites and the Drusians. Since then, through various treaties, Lebanon has sought to find a balance of power between the largest groups. In the late 1800s, nationalist movements emerged from Christian and Muslim literary societies.
After the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was divided among the victorious powers, and France received Syria as a mandate under the NF, but at the expense of Syria created a Greater Lebanon (Tripoli and Sayda and Beka Valley) as counterbalances to Arab nationalism with the center of Damascus. Thus, Lebanon was fed a large Muslim population. The 1926 constitution made Lebanon a parliamentary republic.
During World War II, the country was occupied in 1941 by British and free French forces. Lebanon became independent on 1 January 1944 and became a member of the UN in 1945. Prior to independence, in 1943, an oral national pact had been signed between Muslims and Maronites to preserve the religious balance of power. The agreement provided guidelines for Lebanon’s special status as part of the Arab world but with religious and cultural ties with the West. The Maronites renounced their old alliance with the West and the Muslims from their pan-Arabist aspirations.
The national pact retained loyalty to its own group, thereby hampering the emergence of a common national sense, of democracy and of strong state power. The political system was static, ineffective and corrupt, and it carried the seed of instability. The economic system was liberal, but the relative prosperity Lebanon achieved favored only a few and was concentrated in Beirut.
Demographic developments soon disrupted the balance on which the system rested, among other things through the many Palestinians who arrived in 1948-49 and 1970-71. The contradictions between privileged and others became increasingly apparent. The disadvantaged – Drusians, Shiites, Muslim leftists and even some Christians – joined the National Movement and demanded extensive reforms, including secularisation. They found natural allies in the Palestinians. Its representative, PLO, was granted great freedom of movement through the Cairo 1969 agreement, which they used to establish a state in the state and to carry out guerrilla warfare against Israel, which responded with harsh retaliation. The Maronites were particularly concerned by this double threat to the country’s sovereignty and security, as well as to their own position. They formed the Lebanese front to guard the status quo.
In the spring of 1975, tensions and discontent came to the surface, and a devastating civil war of over 15 years broke out. The armed forces were divided, and the soldiers joined the militia set up by various groups. Syria intervened militarily at the request of Lebanon’s president. Although the war with the Arab League’s aid formally ended in the fall of 1976, the fighting continued, and the Syrian troops remained. Beirut was divided into an eastern Christian and a western Muslim half with the “green line”, a no man’s land of ruins, in between.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 to crush the PLO. A UN force, UNIFIL, was deployed in southern Lebanon in 1978. In 1982, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, besieged Beirut and forced the PLO to evacuate its soldiers. The Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila were subjected to a massacre of Christian militia. In 1985, Israel withdrew after heavy losses caused by the Shiite militia Amal and the similar Shiite pro-Iranian Hizbullah patrols, but retained the “security zone” at the border occupied in 1978.. Compare the Israel-Palestine issue (Palestinian liberation struggle).
Lebanon after the Civil War
Through an agreement in Taif in Saudi Arabia in 1989, the Lebanese parliament under the Arab League reached agreement on peace and reform. A new president could be elected, supported by Syria, which had military control over Lebanon. In doing so, the constitutional stalemate was broken with two rival governments that have ruled since 1988. Michel Aoun, leader of one government and commander-in-chief, opposed the Taif agreement and continued to fight Syria with Iraq’s support. However, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 sentenced Aoun to defeat, and in the fall of 1990 he was defeated by Syrian air and Syrian troops.
The Taif agreement, the basis of Lebanon’s second republic, could thus begin to be realized. The constitution was amended in accordance with the agreement, Beirut was reunited, the militias began to disarm (with the exception of Hizbullah) and the central government sought to assert its position and planned for reconstruction. The PLO was also forced to give up its last stronghold in southern Lebanon. In the spring of 1991, Syria’s triumph was completed with a far-reaching friendship and cooperation pact. The Syrian troops remained in Lebanon and continued to control about 70 percent of Lebanon’s area. In southern Lebanon as well as in southern Beirut, Hizbullah managed to achieve almost total control.
Following the US alliance’s occupation of Iraq in 2003 and its demands for democratic reform in the Arab world, the demands for Syrian retreat from Lebanon increased. In September 2004, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1559, which required all foreign forces to leave Lebanon and to disarm all Lebanese militias, ie Hizbullah. The United States and France were the driving forces behind the resolution. The assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri (1944-2005) in February 2005 led to major anti-Syrian demonstrations in Beirut, which mainly gathered Christians and Drusians, but also many Sunni Muslims. The most extensive demonstration led to the Syrian troops’ total retreat in April 2005. On March 8, Hizbullah and its allies mobilized even larger demonstrations in support of Syria, which was instead directed at the United States and Israel.
Tensions in Lebanon increased further since the United Nations decided in April 2005 to launch an international investigation into al-Hariri’s assassination. In October, the UN investigation identified leading figures in Syria and Lebanon’s intelligence services who were involved in the al-Hariri murder, but no one has so far been convicted of the murder (2020).
A further complication in an already tense political situation in Lebanon was the short-lived war between Israel and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in July – August 2006. Hizbullah and its allies proclaimed victorious in the war following Israel’s retreat from Lebanese territory. However, Hizbullah has continued to refuse to surrender its weapons before Israel also evacuated the Sheba farms, a land strip in southeast Lebanon that Hizbullah considers to be Lebanese land. The 2006 war ended with the UNIFIL UN force, which has been in Lebanon since 1978, expanded in strength and mandate to control the area 15 kilometers north of the Lebanon-Israel border. Despite UNIFIL’s presence, there have been a number of isolated battles between Israel and Hezbullah in the border area since 2006.
The Syrian civil war that started in 2011 has further actualized the gap between the pro-Syrian stance of the March 8 political gathering that unites Hizbullah, Amal and President Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, and the anti-Syrian stance of the March 14 movement that unites Prime Minister al-Hariri’s Party of the Future Movement. the Christian party Lebanese forces.
Lebanon has also received a large number of people who have fled Syria as a result of the war, an estimated 1.5 million people. A large proportion of Lebanon’s population is thus made up of refugees from neighboring countries, but also from former refugee groups such as Iraqis and Palestinians. Lebanese law does not allow Lebanese citizenship and the Palestinians, who have been in Lebanon since 1948, continue to live in confined camps.
In the May 2018 parliamentary elections, Hizbullah and its support parties went ahead, while al-Hariris Future Movement lost a third of its seats in parliament. Only nine months after the election, a new government could take office, still under al-Hariri’s leadership. He resigned from the Prime Minister’s post in 2019, and in 2020, al-Hariri’s successor, Hassan Diab, took office (born 1959).
The United States assists Lebanon’s security forces (Lebanese Internal Security Forces, ISF) and the country’s armed forces (Lebanese Armed Forces, LAF) financially, but the relationship between countries is complicated.