History in Lebanon

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Like other areas of the Middle East, Lebanon has a heritage almost as old as the earliest evidence of mankind. Its geographic position as a crossroads linking the Mediterranean Basin with the great Asian hinterland has conferred on it a cosmopolitan character and a multicultural legacy.

At different periods of its history Lebanon has come under the domination of foreign rulers including Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans and French. Although often conquered the Lebanese take pride in their rebellions against despotic and repressive rulers. Moreover despite foreign domination 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 strife.

Lebanon has a mix of Arab and Mediterranean  cultures colored by Western influences, especially French. Although Lebanon traditionally considered itself the only Christian country in the Arab world by the 1970s the Muslim population was slightly greater than that of the Christians a situation that led to sectarian unrest and struggles for political and economic power.

The civil war lead to foreign intervention and interference, such as the invasion of the Syrian and Israeli armies, as well as the presence of European and American peacekeeping troops.

The war ended in late 1989, but the Syrian occupation lasted until 2005 when the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri lead to mass protests that culminated in the one-million people (a third of Lebanon’s population) gathering in downtown Beirut's Martyr Square on March 14, 2005.  The Syrian army withdrew a month later due to the peaceful demonstration, which also toppled the Syrian-backed government, similar to what happened in the Ukraine .  The peaceful movement was dubbed, the "Cedar Revolution."  Free elections took place the following June.

With a freely and democratically elected government and an educated population, Lebanon today has the best chance to regain its stature as the cultural and economical center of the eastern Mediterranean.

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