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Lebanon is a country located in the Middle East, with its capital at Beirut. Once considered to be the most advanced country in the Middle East (its capital Beirut was called the "Monte Carlo of the East"), Lebanon was divided between the leftists - mostly the poor Muslim and Palestinian population - and the conservatives - mostly the Christian Maronites such as former President Camille Chamoun - and civil war broke out in 1976. The Lebanese Civil War continued until 1990, and Syria occupied the country until the Cedar Revolution restored Lebanese independence in 2005. Despite this, the country is still divided, and Syrian influence, the clashes between the Shi'ite Hezbollah group and the Sunni al-Nusra Front and other anti-Syrian groups, and the March 8 Alliance-March 14 Alliance rivalry leave the country in a state of division. Today, Lebanon has a population of 4,822,000, nearly half Christian and half Muslim.

History

Map of Lebanon

Lebanon was founded in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II, when French Lebanon broke apart at the hands of a popular uprising. Lebanon was ruled by a Maronite president and a Muslim prime minister, and Lebanon was founded in religious unity. Lebanon was hostile towards Israel, a Jewish state to the south, and they allied with other Arab states against Israel in the Israeli War of Independence (1948-49) and the Six-Day War of 1967. In both wars, they were defeated by the Israelis, and they also failed in their quest to take control over the water flow of the Jordan River in the War over Water of 1965-67. Lebanon was one of the countries whose efforts for peace with Israel were taken seriously, and the Christian Kataeb Party wanted to negotiate peace. However, they had to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization militants, who had moved from Jordan to Weist Beirut in 1970. Palestinian militants launched cross-border raids and rocket attacks from South Lebanon, and in 1976 civil war broke out between the PLO militants (who proved to be an obstacle to peace with Israel) and the Lebanese government. Christian Maronites fought to preserve the old Lebanon while Muslim forces fought to make Lebanon a democracy, and the Lebanese Civil War would rage until 1990. Israel intervened in 1978 in response to the Coastal Road Massacre, and they reached the Litani River before international condemnation forced them to withdraw. In 1982, Israel invaded once more after Syria occupied much of the country to put down the rebels - the government threatened to take Lebanon into its sphere of influence and allow for the Palestinians to remain in the country. Israeli forces fought against Syrian, Muslim, and the remaining Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers, and the country descended into anarchy as rival groups competed for power. Beirut was destroyed, and Palestinian refugees were massacred at Sabra and Chatila by Maronite militias under Elie Hobeika. In 1985, with the PLO agreeing to move to Tunisia, Israel withdrew to South Lebanon; in 1990, the Ta'if Accords ended the civil war. From 1990 to 2000, Israel's last troops in South Lebanon fought against the Hezbollah militants which sought to force Israel out of the country, and when Israel withdrew, the terrorist Hezbollah group's fighters were hailed as heroes for forcing Israel out; the allied South Lebanon Army, a Maronite group, was crushed by Hezbollah.

Lebanon would remain occupied by Syria until 2005, when the Cedar Revolution forced the Syrian armed forces out. Unfortunately, the Syrian government was responsible for several political murders, including Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and Kataeb Party official Pierre Amine Gemayel. Hezbollah and Syria had a strong influence over the country, especially when Hezbollah became a political party. The anti-Syria parties formed the March 14 Alliance to commemorate the date of the Cedar Revolution, while Hezbollah and pro-Syria parties formed the March 8 Alliance to commemorate pro-Syria protests against the government. The parties would clash in the following years, resulting in political deadlock and violence. With the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, violence spilled over into Lebanon, with the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front, Free Syrian Army, and other Syrian Opposition groups spreading to Lebanon, fighting against Hezbollah and the government. Warlords took control of cities like Tripoli, and in 2014 political deadlock ensued. Today, Lebanon is still divided, and it has been in a constant state of violence similar to the civil war, but on a smaller scale.

Culture

Lebanon has a population of 4,822,000 people, with Arabic being the official language but 40% of the people speaking French. English was also used in 30% of Lebanon's secondary schools. Lebanon is made up of 27% Sunnis, 27% Shias, 40.5% Christians (21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 1% Christian, and 5.5% other Christian), and 5.6% Druze - the minorities are Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, and Hindus.

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