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Lebanon Information - Page 2
Around five thousand years ago, people known as Phoenicians were inhabitants of present-day Lebanon. Phoenician cities included Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. From these ports the seafaring Phoenicians conducted international commercial activies.

In the following centuries Lebanon was occupied by many armies including those of the Assyrians, Persians and Alexander the Great. Later, Lebanon became a province of the Roman Empire and then a region of the Byzantine Empire.

Lebanons's history continued in a similar vein to that of its neighbours: occupation by an Islamic empire, influx of Crusaders from Europe, rule by Mamelukes and absorption into the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish conquest lasted from 1516 until the First World War (1914-1918).

In 1920 Lebanon (and Syria) came under a League of Nations Mandate and France was given responsibility for the area.

Independence was gained during the Second World War (1939-1945) and Lebanon joined the League of Arab States. Soon after, Lebanon was involved in the declaration of war on the newly formed State of Israel (1948).

Lebanon became one of the destinations for Palestinian refugees. Over the years Palestinian guerrillas operated from Lebanon which led to conflict with Israel. There was also unrest between the Lebanese Muslims (Alawis, Druze, Ismailis, Shias, Sunni) and the Lebanese Christians (Catholics, Maronites, Orthodox, Protestants). A short civil war took place in 1958 and in 1975 civil war broke out once more; at this time Hezbollah, a political force opposed to Israel, emerged in the South.

The Lebanese Civil War (1975-90) caused considerable damage to the country's infrastructure and economic life. In 1993 the government initiated a reconstruction program, aided by international finance. The country was rebuilt and reforms in the economy took place.

In 2006 hostilities between one of Lebanon's militant groups and Israel caused more damage to the country's infrastructure.

The agricultural sector earns the smallest percentage of Lebanon's Gross Domestic Product. Produce includes potatoes, vegetables, tomatoes, olives, citrus fruits, apples and grapes. Tobacco is also grown. Sheep and goats are reared.

Industries are oil refining, cement, chemicals, mineral products, wood and furniture products, metal goods, jewellery, textiles and food processing.

The services sector provides the largest contribution to the GDP. Service industries include banking and tourism.

Lebanon has been famous for its glassware since Phoenician times. Jewellery is made in traditional and modern designs and handcrafted brass and copper goods are produced.

Poetry has traditionally been part of Lebanese culture. Khalil Gibran is one of Lebanon's most famous poets. Gibran, who migrated to the USA, wrote The Prophet (1923), a collection of poems. He is also well known for his paintings.

Music and dance is important in Lebanese culture. The dabke is a national dance, originally performed in the villages.

Twentieth century Lebanese musicians include the female singer Fayrouz and the composer Marcel Khalife.

Team sports played in Lebanon include basketball and football. Lebanon is a participant in the Asian (football) Club Championship.

There are plenty of opportunities along the coast of Lebanon for water sports; swimming, scuba diving and water-skiing are popular.

The snowy peaks of the Lebanese Mountains provide one of the Middle East's few opportunities for winter sports.

All religious holidays are observed. Liberation and Resistance Day is on 25 May and Independence Day is on 22 November (1943).

News from Lebanon is available in Newslink.

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