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Following the capture of Syria from the Ottoman Empire by Anglo-French forces in 1918 A.D., France received a mandate over this territory and separated out a region of Lebanon in 1920 A.D.. France granted this area independence in 1943 A.D.. A lengthy civil war (1975 A.D.-1990 A.D.) devastated the country, but Lebanon has since made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater voice in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, Lebanon has conducted several successful elections, most militias have been disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hizballah, a radical Shi'a organization listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, retains its weapons. During Lebanon's civil war, the Arab League legitimized in the Ta'if Accord Syria's troop deployment, numbering about 16,000 based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 A.D. and the passage in October 2004 A.D. of UNSCR 1559 A.D. - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs -encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 20 others in February 2005 A.D. led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"), and Syria withdrew the remainder of its military forces in April 2005 A.D.. In May-June 2005 A.D., Lebanon held its first legislative elections since the end of the civil war free of foreign interference, handing a majority to the bloc led by Saad Hariri, the slain prime minister's son. Lebanon continues to be plagued by violence - Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in July 2006 A.D. leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel. The LAF in May-September 2007 A.D. battled Sunni extremist group Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp; and the country has witnessed a string of politically motivated assassinations since the death of Rafiq Hariri. Lebanese politicians in November 2007 A.D. were unable to agree on a successor to Emile Lahud when he stepped down as president, creating a political vacuum. The official language is Arabic; French, English, and Armenian are also spoken.

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Lebanese law requires that the president is a Maronite Christian, the prime minister is a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the National Assembly is a Shi'a Muslim.

---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Lebanon - White, "the white mountain of Syria," is the loftiest and most celebrated mountain range in Syria. It is a branch running southward from the Caucasus, and at its lower end forking into two parallel ranges, the eastern or Anti-Lebanon, and the western or Lebanon proper. They enclose a long valley (Joshua 11:17) of from 5 to 8 miles in width, called by Roman writers Coele-Syria, now called el-Buka'a , "the valley," a prolongation of the valley of the Jordan. Lebanon proper, Jebel es-Sharki, commences at its southern extremity in the gorge of the Leontes, the ancient Litany, and extends north-east, parallel to the Mediterranean coast, as far as the river Eleutherus, at the plain of Emesa, "the entering of Hamath" (Numbers 34:8; 1 Kings 8:65), in all about 90 geographical miles in extent. The average height of this range is from 6,000 to 8,000 feet; the peak of Jebel Mukhmel is about 10,200 feet, and the Sannin about 9,000. The highest peaks are covered with perpetual snow and ice. In the recesses of the range wild beasts as of old still abound (2 Kings 14:9; Song of Songs 4:8). The scenes of the Lebanon are remarkable for their grandeur and beauty, and supplied the sacred writers with many expressive similes (Psalms 29:5, Psalms 29:6; Psalms 72:16; Psalms 104:16; Song of Songs 4:15; Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 60:13; Hosea 14:5). It is famous for its cedars (Song of Songs 5:15), its wines (Hosea 14:7), and its cool waters (Jeremiah 18:14). The ancient inhabitants were Giblites and Hivites (Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3). It was part of the Phoenician kingdom (1 Kings 5:2). The eastern range, or Anti-Lebanon, or "Lebanon towards the sunrising," runs nearly parallel with the western from the plain of Emesa till it connects with the hills of Galilee in the south. The height of this range is about 5,000 feet. Its highest peak is Hermon (q.v.), from which a number of lesser ranges radiate. Lebanon is first mentioned in the description of the boundary of Palestine (Deuteronomy 1:7; Deuteronomy 11:24). It was assigned to Israel, but was never conquered (Joshua 13:2; Judges 3:1). The Lebanon range is now inhabited by a population of about 300,000 Christians, Maronites, and Druses, and is ruled by a Christian governor. The Anti-Lebanon is inhabited by Mohammedans, and is under a Turkish ruler.

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