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Lebanon (Arabic Lubnan), republic on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea in Southwest Asia. Lebanon’s coastal location, high mountain backbone, and climate have greatly influenced the country’s history, peoples, and economy. The coastal area of present-day Lebanon was settled more than 7,000 years ago and later evolved as the heart of seafaring Phoenicia. To help conduct their sea trade, the Phoenicians developed the first alphabet and colonized the western Mediterranean. In the early centuries ad, a largely Christian population and culture arose, which later blended with—though was not overwhelmed by—Islamic influences. Following centuries of Ottoman control, France ruled Lebanon under a League of Nations mandate after the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I (1914-1918). During World War II (1939-1945) Lebanon became an independent republic and for three decades prospered under a free-market economy. However, the country experienced increasing hostility among rival religious groups, especially between Christians and Muslims. These and other domestic tensions, intensified by foreign influences, erupted into the devastating Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). Beirut is Lebanon’s capital, principal port, and largest city.
For younger readers
Cahill, Mary Jane. Lebanon. Chelsea House, 1998. For readers in grades 5 to 8.
Kort, Michael G. The Handbook of the Middle East. 21st Century, 2002. For readers in grades 7 and up.
Dagher, Carole H. "Bring Down the Walls": Lebanon's Post-War Challenge. St. Martin's, 2000. A journalist's study of Lebanon's Christian and Muslim communities and their emergence from civil war.
Fisk, Robert. Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon. Atheneum, 1990. Journalist's description of the tragic events of 1976 to 1985.
A Key to the Lebanon. Foreword by Salah Stetie. Garnet, 2000. Illustrated text that focuses on Lebanon's reconstruction rather than on its conflict-ridden past.
Harris, William. Faces of Lebanon: Sects, Wars, and Global Extensions. Wiener, 1997. Detailed, well-documented study of Lebanon in the 20th century.
LaTeef, Nelda. Women of Lebanon: Interviews with Champions for Peace. McFarland, 1997. Discussions from six months of interviews with 42 Lebanese women.
Marston, Elsa. Lebanon: New Light in an Ancient Land. Silver, 1994. General introduction for younger readers.
Meo, Leila. Lebanon, Improbable Nation: A Study in Political Development. Greenwood, 1976. Nineteenth-century precursors of the present state.
Picard, Elizabeth.Trans. Franklin Philip. Lebanon: A Shattered Country: Myths and Realities of the Wars in Lebanon. Holmes & Meier, 1996. First study of post-Taif Lebanon; broad in scope.
Salem, Elie A. Violence and Diplomacy in Lebanon: The Troubled Years, 1982-1988. I.B. Tauris, 1995. Memoirs of this troubled time in Lebanon's history.
Salibi, Kamal Suleiman. A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. University of California Press, 1990. This history focuses on the differences between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon.
Zamir, Meir. Lebanon's Quest: The Road to Statehood, 1926-1939. I.B. Tauris, 1998, 2000. Objective account of the establishment of Lebanon.
Held, Colbert C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Diplomat (Retired)-in-Residence, Baylor University. Author of Middle East Patterns: Places, Peoples, and Politics and other books.
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