Geography of Lebanon
Lebanon is today a small republic stretching approximately 160 kilometers along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea with a total area of 10,452 kilometers square and an estimated population of 3,874,050 according to an independent 2006 estimate, including Palestinian refugees and foreign workers, mainly Syrian. Lebanese territory is dominated mostly by mountains which consist of the parallel ranges of the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon. Between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon ranges lies the valley of Biqa'. Lebanon is bounded on the north by the Eleutherus River (Nahr al-Kabir), on the east by the Anti-Lebanon mountains, both of which they share with what is present-day Syria. It is also bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and on the south by the highlands of the Galilee, or what is today Occupied Palestine (Israel). Beirut, the capital of present-day Lebanon, its largest city and principal port, is located almost mid-way on the coastal line of the country.
Ancient History of Lebanon (2700 BCE 7th century CE) The history of Lebanon is almost as old as the earliest evidence of mankind. Lebanon was the homeland of Phoenicia; an ancient civilization among the earliest renowned civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. At different periods, Lebanon had come under the control of several foreign conquerors including Assyrians, Babylonians, Armenians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans and French, each leaving a noticeable influence on modern-day Lebanon. What the Greeks names as Phoenicia was a civilization that flourished along the coast for more than 2,000 years (2700-450 BCE). The Phoenicians developed the first alphabet, and Phoenician city-states such as Byblos, Beirut, and Tyre became symbols for the art of navigation, trade and communication. Phoenicians, however, never united politically and thus were subject to many conquests: Assyrians in 867 BCE; Babylonians in the 590s BCE; Persians in 538 BCE, and Greeks under Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. In 64 BCE, Phoenicia was conquered by the Romans and it remained Roman until the seventh century when the Arabs took control. Under the Roman Empire, Christianity was introduced to Phoenicia from neighboring Galilee soon after the time of Jesus of Nazareth, and the religion became deeply rooted in that region. In the seventh century, Maronite Christians migrated from Syria to northern Lebanon seeking refuge from the Byzantine oppression, and the area named Phoenicia gradually gave way to Mount Lebanon, or simply Lebanon.
Arab Rule and the Middle Ages (7th century 1516) The Arab advances in the seventh century brought Islam to Lebanon soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad. Muslim influence increased after that when a new Muslim empire under the Umayyad Caliphate was established at nearby Damascus in present-day Syria. In 750, the Umayyads were overthrown by the Abbasid Caliphate which ruled from Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and so Lebanon came under the control of the Muslim Abbasids. In the eleventh century, the Abbasid power started to decline, a situation which provoked the invasion of the Crusaders between years 1095 and 1291. Although Saladin eliminated the Crusader control of the Holy Land (Jerusalem) around 1190, the Crusader influence remained strong in Lebanon. It was not until the late thirteenth century that the Muslim control was reestablished in Lebanon under the Mamluk sultans of Egypt. Lebanon was later contested between Muslim rulers until the Ottomans, centered in Constantinople extended their conquests to include Lebanon in 1516. The mountainous territory of Mount Lebanon had by the time become a shelter for the minority persecuted groups of the Maronite Christians and the heterodox Muslims, the Druze. This region was given considerable autonomy under the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottomans ruled the Emirate of Mount Lebanon until the middle of the...
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