Syria and Lebanon
MICHAEL MENACHEM LASKIER
Syria, situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, is bounded by Turkey to the north and northeast, Iraq to the east and southeast, Jordan to the south, and Lebanon and Israel to the southwest. Although most of the population is Arab, Syria is home to a significant number of Kurds, Armenians, Turks, Circassians, and Assyrians. Sunni Muslims account for 75 percent of the Arabic-speaking Muslim population, with a smaller presence only in the south and the Latakia province of the north. Alawite Shiites form the next largest group; most live in Latakia or in the northern cities of Hama and Homs. The Druze, a sectarian group since the eleventh century, live in the area of Aleppo, Damascus, and Jabal al-Druze. Christians, about 10 percent of the population, are represented by various denominations, chief of which are the Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Greek Catholics, and the Maronites.
Lebanon, with the port of Beirut (called Berytus in ancient times and in the Ottoman Empire was known as Mount Lebanon), is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean to the north of Israel and to the south and west of Syria. Founded in September 1920, Lebanon is home to Maronites, Druze, and a diverse population of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, as well as people of various Christian denominations. Outside the major urban areas the economy is agricultural, based on the production of olives, tobacco, citrus, cotton, grain, and silk. A small number of Jews lived in both countries from antiquity until the establishment of the State of Israel.
UNTIL THE 1920S AND MODERN SYRIA
Captured by the Arabs in the seventh century, Syria was dominated by various dynasties until the sixteenth century, when it came under Ottoman