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Lebanon is a country in the Levant in Western Asia.
The story of Lebanon is a very ancient one, going back to those indefinite days of stones and bones. The people of ancient Lebanon were among the first to build urban settlements.
The name Lebanon comes from the Phoenician root 'Ibn', which means 'white'. It is likely a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon. Although the official language of Lebanon is Arabic, it cannot be adjudged that Lebanon's language is Arabic since Lebanese people also speak English and French. The Lebanon currency is the Lebanese Pound.
Lebanon has a diverse population on a landmass that spreads to over 4,035.5 sq mi (10,452 sq km). The Lebanese land area has around 13% forest cover. There are also rocky beaches you can visit. They can compete with the best in the Mediterranean!
Did you know that Lebanon was the first Arab country to introduce private TV and radio in the Arab world?
Modern Lebanon is rife with civil wars and political crises. It is a country where both Syrian troops and Palestinian forces have fought for power. Many refugee camps housing Palestinian and Syrian refugees can be found here. The capital city Beirut was rebuilt from the rubble by former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
If you have enjoyed reading this article so far, you should also check out Austria facts and Finland facts.
Lebanon's history begins with the Semitic-speaking Canaanite civilization. Then it fell to Egyptian rule and influence till the time of the collapse of the Bronze age. After that Lebanon’s famous Phoenician Civilization rose to prominence. Phoenicians established a vast commercial enterprise with trading posts and colonies planted all across the Mediterranean Sea, the greatest being Carthage in North Africa.
Lebanon was one of the first places where Christianity spread in the first century AD. Many people converted to Christianity in the fourth century AD, after the missionary efforts of the followers of the Syrian mystic monk Saint Maron. These Christians came to be known as Maronites and they exist to this day.
Lebanon also became one of the earliest lands introduced to Islam by Sunni Muslims after being conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century AD. An esoteric syncretist religion from within the Muslim fold arose in the eleventh century AD whose followers were called the Druze. They make up about 5% of the population today in North Lebanon.
So the years passed and Beirut prospered as an important port but 1860 saw a time of trouble among the religious groups in which Druze and Muslims of the region decided that slaughtering Christians was a good idea and they killed thousands, with the ruling Ottomans doing nothing to stop the violence. This prompted French forces to intervene and restore order.
The Ottoman Empire was on the way out, however, and after World War I, France assumed command of Greater Lebanon. The French brought a modernizing influence and Lebanon acquired a modern mind. It wanted independence and proclaimed it in 1943 with Bechara El Khoury becoming the President.
Lebanon enjoyed some good times in the 1960s as tourism increased and east Beirut became a center of banking. But then it began to unravel. The roughly equal demographic balance of Muslims and Christians began to change as the conflict in Israel saw many thousands of Muslim Palestinian refugees arrive through the Syrian border. Lebanon’s Christians had many positions of power and were pro-western, whereas Lebanon’s Muslims were not pro-Western, and of course neither were the Palestinians, who now made up a tenth of the population. So it all escalated into a Lebanese civil war. The surrounding countries were inevitably dragged into the fray and it was all a horrible murderous mess!
And as if it was not bad enough, the Palestinians complicated affairs by using Lebanon as a base to attack Israel. This naturally made Israel attack Lebanon in response. A Shia Muslim militia called Hezbollah arose in the early 1980s as a reaction to Israel’s presence in the land. So the civil war with its massacres, bombardments, and bombings wound down and ended and Lebanon was in ruins and mostly occupied by Syrian forces.
The year 2000 saw Israel withdraw from South Lebanon. Syrian forces started leaving through the eastern border once the Lebanese people came together and peacefully protested during the 'Cedar Revolution'. So things were nice and quiet until another war erupted in 2006. This one began after Hezbollah thought it was a nice day to fire rockets at Israel!
Lebanon showcases a fusion of Egyptian, Middle-Eastern, and European cultures. You can find Roman ruins at Baalbek and Tyre. You can also visit Byblos, an ancient town which is estimated to have been inhabited back in 8800 BC. You can even opt for sightseeing and nature-based activities. Qadisha Valley offers a great place for hiking and The Cedars is an amazing skiing spot. Beirut's largest waterfront is also quite a sight to behold.
The cedar tree on the Lebanon flag is its national symbol and grows on the slopes of the Lebanon mountains. It is no wonder that the Lebanon mountains and especially Mount Lebanon are special to the people.
Being a culturally rich area, Lebanese cuisine is famous all over the world. From authentic wineries at Bekaa Valley to street food at Tripoli, you are spoilt for choice with the different food varieties that Lebanon gets to serve you!
Lebanese culture is quite conservative. While the population is quite diverse, Christian and Islamic traditions have kept the social norms strict. Since Lebanon is geographically close to Europe, western influences can also be seen.
Lebanon is not very individualistic but rather collectivistic. Hence, groups define the individual. Lebanese people are generally family-oriented. They can also be closely tied to their religion or political party. Honor and loyalty remain an important part of Lebanon's people.
When it comes to greeting guests, Lebanese people are very generous and charitable. Even if you encounter someone for the first time, they might invite you to their home as a guest. They often refer to each other affectionately as 'Habibi', meaning 'my love'.
In August 2020, a massive explosion in Beirut rocked the nation. The explosion was caused by poorly stored ammonium nitrate, a combustible chemical compound used as fertilizers. The shockwave shattered glasses and roads and caused the death of around 218 people and injured over 7,000 people.
Half the healthcare services in Beirut became non-functional after the explosion. Damage to property, infrastructure, and supply lines has been estimated to be around 390-475 million dollars. The explosion resulted in the release of severe amounts of harmful ammonia gas and nitrogen oxide getting released into the atmosphere. Also, there has been an estimated 800,000 tons of demolition waste. Refugees may be most affected by this explosion and there are around 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The Lebanese government has a multi-party parliamentary form of government. The Lebanese Republic is headed by a prime minister. There has always been a power struggle between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon. The Ta'if agreement ensured equal power division between the Christians and the Muslims.
There is a Chamber of Deputy elected for four years by electoral voting. The members of this body, in turn, elect the President by a two-thirds majority nomination. An interesting fact is that the President of Lebanon must be a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim, and the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim. The current president is Michel Aoun.
The justice system of Lebanon is modeled as per the French justice system. There are both secular and traditional aspects to the political system of Lebanon. Few women have ever participated in Lebanese politics.
Palestinian refugees are not allowed to participate in Lebanese politics.
Lebanon today, though hardly free from cares and concerns, has attained a high level of human development and we wish it all the best as it faces the future!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Lebanon facts then why not take a look at Hungary facts, or Jamaica facts.
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