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
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.
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
The Apostle Paul founded a Christian congregation in
Tyros, which also became the first bishop's seat. During
Ístrom 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
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
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
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
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.