Lebanon - "Switzerland of the Middle East"
Lebanon has been shaken by numerous wars and civil wars in the past few
decades. These have made it forget for many of the great importance of the
region since antiquity with kingdoms and trade republics such as Byblos, Tire or
Sidon in the eastern Mediterranean. After a very eventful history, today's
country celebrates independence from France every year on November 22nd, which
was sealed in 1943.
Lebanon then distinguished itself not only as an ally in the "anti-Hitler
coalition", but also as one of the founding members of the United
Nations. Unfortunately, the once economically stable, politically neutral and
noticeably westernized “Switzerland of the Middle East” has become a synonym for
terror and violence since the bloody civil war in the mid-1970s until
1990. Other wars such as the most recent Second Lebanon War against Israel
(2006) and, most recently, the fierce fighting between the Lebanese army and the
radical Islamic underground organization "Fatah al-Islam" in 2007 were
devastating for the image that Lebanon is conveying to the outside world. But
despite all this, Lebanon has a second, much friendlier face:
One would like to wonder about this small country between Syria, Israel and
the Mediterranean. With an area of only 10,500 km2, it is only half the size
of the German state of Hesse.
It meanders along the sea for only about 220 kilometers. And at the widest point
it is barely 65 kilometers. And yet Lebanon unites an incredible cultural,
religious and scenic wealth that is second to none. Whoever enters the country
for whatever reason - be it for relaxation, for sport, for their own education
or for hiking on the paths of Jesus and his followers - will be delighted.
Lebanon offers its visitors the unusual advantage of switching between
breathtaking mountain ranges and archaeological sites, between deep valleys and
rushing rivers, between blooming fields and barren plains in the shortest
possible time. Especially in spring you experience the contrasts in their
absolute, because then it is possible to escape the freezing cold of the ski
areas in the warming waters of the Mediterranean.
Lebanon owes its name to the mountains of the same name, which run through
almost the entire national territory and are called "Jabal Lubnan" in
Arabic. The highest elevation in it is the Karnat as-Sauda. Its mountain peak,
which is 3,088 meters high, is covered in snow in winter. The famous, oil-rich
cedars, which are a symbol of the relatively young state, also grow in these
mountains. The geographically superbly situated country has been a gathering
point for European and Asian cultures since ancient times. And each of them has
left its own mark. Today there are 18 official religious communities in the
country, 12 of which are Christian. The Chouf Mountains represent the home of
the Druze people, who split off from Islam in the 11th century but kept the
Koran as their basis.
Lebanon offers countless places and sites worth seeing. In addition to the
lively capital Beirut, the former “Paris of the East”, which spreads out so
wonderfully on a headland jutting out into the Mediterranean, you can enter the
sacred valley of the Maronites with the Wadi Qadisha or look for the Phoenician
origins in Tripoli. There you will be kidnapped into the fascinating time of the
crusaders, you can stroll along the wonderful harbor promenade, wander through
the old town shaped by the Mamelukes or taste the finest delicacies of the
country in the “Pâtisserie Abdul Rahman”. Jounieh, which is the most French city
and "capital of the Christians", lures Byblos (today "Jbeil"), the legendary
place of Adonis' death and reference point to the Bible, or the ancient Sidon
(today Saida), the once so important trading center of the Phoenicians. It goes
over a kilometer through the stalactite grottoes of Jeita, and with Tyros (today
Sur) you will experience what was once the most beautiful of all Phoenician
cities. And don't forget, of course, Baalbek, the ancient Heliopolis, where the
largest Roman temple city that can be found outside of Rome is located.
|Name of the country
||Republic of Lebanon
|Form of government
||Asia, Middle East
||Kulluna lil-Watan lil-Ula lil-Alam (We all for the home)
||approx. 4.8 million (Credit:
||93% Arabs, minorities: Kurds, Armenians and others
||approx. 60% Muslim, approx. 40% Christian
||Arabic (official language), French
||Quarnat as Sawda with a height of 3,088 m
||Nahr al-Litani is 145 km long
|International license plate
||LBP (Lebanese Pound)
|Difference to CET
|International phone code
|Mains voltage, frequency
||110/200 V, 50 Hz
|Internet TLD (Top Level Domain)
Until around the year 1000
Human life in Lebanon can be traced back to the Paleolithic, a time when
humans qualified as "humans" only because, unlike their ancestors, they were
able to manufacture simple tools. In the Mesolithic around 10,000 BC Agriculture
and animal husbandry developed as early as 9,000 BC, and around 9,000 BC. First
cities arose. Jericho in Israel, Aleppo in Syria and Byblos
in Lebanon are considered the oldest cities in the world. The people
who lived in this area were Canaanites, members of a Semitic tribe. The term
"Semites" is used in modern times often and in different contexts, whereby it is
often forgotten that all peoples living in the Middle East are predominantly
people of Semitic origin.
Abbreviationfinder website, the name "Lebanon" was created around 3,000 BC. At this time there were
already a number of cities (besides Byblos, among others, Jbiel, Tire, Sidon and
Berytus, today's Beirut). First trade took place with Egypt and the pharaohs. In
addition to cedar wood, olive oil and wine, the Canaanites also sold purple
paint (Greek: phoinikies) and were therefore called "Phoenicians" by the Greeks.
Around 1,500 BC BC Lebanon was conquered by the Egyptians, but regained
independence three centuries later; the Phoenicians gained great prosperity
through trade and colonization, for example of Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes and
Carthage. They established important trade routes and are considered to be the
inventors of the first alphabet; it had 22 letters and is considered the
forerunner of the modern alphabet.
In the centuries that followed, Lebanon was ruled by the Assyrians,
Babylonians, Persians, and Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia. Cities were
wiped out and rebuilt, the residents enslaved. After Alexander's death,
Lebanon fell to the Roman Empire or, after its division, to Byzantium.
From the year 1000 to the 17th century
After the year 1000, Aramaic replaced the Phoenician language, and
Christianity was firmly established by the 4th century.
In the year 570 AD Mohammed, the son of a camel dealer, was born in a
Byzantine province and venerated by his followers as a prophet who had received
the word of God through the archangel Gabriel. Mohammed who made Islamjustified,
died in the year 632. At this point in time, the majority of the people living
on the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam (not always voluntarily). In the
7th century, followers of a Christian sect fled to the mountains of Lebanon to
avoid a violent conversion. This is where the Maronite religious community
originated; the Maronites were and are still shaping the development and culture
of Lebanon to this day. The inaccessibility of the Lebanese mountains also
encouraged Islamic splinter groups (Shiites in the 9th century and Druze in the
11th century) to settle here.
The 12th century was marked by the crusaders who set out to free the Holy
Land from the Muslims; they took first Jerusalem and then
also Tripoli, Beirut, Sidon and Tire. Castle ruins and many churches still
bear witness to this time.
In 1516 Lebanon, like the entire Eastern Mediterranean, was incorporated into
the Ottoman Empire, and under Ottoman rule, close trade and religious ties with
In the 18th and 19th centuries
In 1860, after a civil war between the Maronites and Druze, which culminated
in a Druze massacre of the Maronites, the Turks established a
Christian-dominated administration in Lebanon under pressure from the English
20th century until today
After World War I, Lebanon fell under a French mandate. In the 20s of the
20th century, the French redefined the borders of Lebanon by merging the coastal
plains, which are mostly inhabited by Muslims, and the Christian-dominated
mountains. Within these new borders the country was proclaimed the "Republic of
Lebanon" in 1941; In 1944 the young republic was granted autonomy. The first
president of Lebanon was Bishara Bey al-Churi.
After the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948, the war for Palestine
began, as a result of which an estimated 150,000 of the approximately 1,000,000
Palestinian-Arab refugees ended up in Lebanon. In the following years there were
violent clashes between the mostly wealthy and Western values-oriented
Christians in the country and the predominantly very poor Muslims. In the small
country of Lebanon, the large number of Palestinian refugees living here posed
an additional problem.
In 1967 the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) was founded.
The conflict between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon intensified, as did
that between Israel and the PL0-influenced Arab states. In 1975 a civil war
broke out in Lebanon, officially called a war between Christians and Muslims,
but which was actually waged by various different interest groups. Syrian,
Israeli and multinational troops entered Lebanon. In 1983 bomb attacks by
"Hezbollah" ("Party of God") killed around 230 US Marines and 58 French
paratroopers. The multinational troops left the country. The civil war lasted
until 1991; over 16 years, more than 150,000 people, including two presidents (Beschir
Gemayel and René Muawad), were killed and the country was devastated.
An Israeli air strike in 1992 killed the Lebanese Shiite leader Sheikh Abbad
Mousavi and his family.
The first parliamentary elections in 20 years took place in late 1992; the
cabinet was now made up of half Christians and half Muslims.
A ceasefire agreement was signed a few months later by Israel, Lebanon and
Syria following a large-scale Israeli air strike in 1996 that killed many
civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to leave their villages. However, the
fighting between Islamist groups and Israel and the Christian-Lebanese army
influenced by Israel continued in the years to come; Israeli and Syrian troops
were still stationed in Lebanon. In May 2000, Israel withdrew its troops; UN
peacekeeping forces were deployed in the border area between Israel and Lebanon
to prevent further acts of violence. Syrian forces, which have been in the
country for over 28 years, began to withdraw in 2004.
In February 2005, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 17
other people were victims of a bomb attack in Beirut. An international
commission of inquiry under the direction of the Berlin chief public prosecutor
Detlev Mehlis is supposed to clear up the incident; Members of the Syrian and
Lebanese secret services are suspected.
In July 2006, two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah, prompting
Israel to launch a large-scale military offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
As a result of the military operation, over 1,200 Lebanese were killed and large
parts of the country's infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and power plants,
were destroyed. On the basis of UN resolution 1701, the hostilities ended in
mid-August 2006. On September 13, 2006, the Federal Cabinet decided to dispatch
2,400 Bundeswehr soldiers to secure the sea area of Lebanon against the
smuggling of arms. The Bundeswehr Association consists of 1,500 marines and 900
soldiers from the air force. The German naval association comprises a total of 2
frigates with helicopters, a task force supply with a hospital, a tender and 4