Lebanon is a small mountainous country in the eastern Mediterannean bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south. The Lebanese population was estamated to be approximately 4 million before the 2006 Israeli invasion that caused one-fourth of the population to become refugees. The diverse population includes Sunni and Shi's Muslims, Druze, Maronite Christians, Greek Catholics, Armenians, Palestinians, and approximately 100,000 Sri Lankan expatriates.
Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy.
- Prime Minister: Fouad Siniora
- Foreign Minister: Fawzi Sallukh (resigned)
- Finance Minister: Jihad Azur
- Defence Minister: Ilyas al-Murr
Although designated as an autonomous province by the Ottoman authorities in 1861, modern Lebanon emerged on August 31, 1920 when Greater Lebanon became a French League of Nations Mandate. To the south of Lebanon, Britain ruled Palestine under a League of Nations Mandate and permitted large scale Jewish immigration. In 1940 Lebanon was held by Vichy French State forces but in June 1941 it was occupied by Free French and British troops.
Lebanon became fully independent on december 26, 1946 with the withdrawal of the last French armed forces. Only a year later the independence of Israel and the flight of many Palestinians from their ancient homeland leads to the first influx of Palestinians. Lebanon and neighboring Syria had already given refuge to Armenians fleeing genocide in Turkey immediately after the First World War. The United States intervened miltiarily in Lebanon in 1956.
The Lebanese suffered a protracted civil war from 1975 until the early 1990s as various ethnic militias, including Maronite, Druze, Shi'a and Palestinian, fought with one another or with Israeli and Syrian troops. The constantly shifting alliances between the various armies resembled the struggle for the 15th century struggle for control of the Italian peninsula between Italian city states, France and Austria. The one constant was the hostility between the large Palestinian exile population and the Israeli military.
Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and again in 1982 before pulling back to a self-declared "security zone" in southern Lebanon from which it withdrew in May 2000. The Syrian military withdrew from eastern Lebanon in 2005.
Then in late July 2006 Israel invaded southern Lebanon again in an announced effort to create a Hezbollah-Free Zone south of the Litani River. The war is on-going.
U.S. Military Occupations of Lebanon
- September 3-12, 1903 occupation
- 1958 occupation
- July 22-23, 1974 American and European nationals evacuated
- August 21-September 20, 1982 U.S. Marines assist evacuation of PLO force
- September 29, 1982 U.S. Marines begin long military occupation, later authorized on September 29, 1983 by Congress as the Multinational Force in Lebanon Resolution (P.L. 98-119).
- Sandra Mackey. 1989. Lebanon: Death of a Nation. Anchor. ISBN 0385413815.
- Jonathan C. Randal. 1984. Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers. and the War in Lebanon. Vintage. ISBN 0394723597.