Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook

By David S. Sorenson | Go to book overview

Introduction

The very name “Lebanon” evokes mystery, as there is some debate about its origins. Some argue that it stems from “white” (laabaan in Arabic), referring to the milky color of its snow-capped mountains. Some argue that the name dates to pre-Arabic languages, though the root (LBN, or

) is similar. The name Lebanon stems from the larger “Mount Lebanon,” historically a Maronite Christian area, and some argue that its choice for the name of the nation of Lebanon marginalizes the other provinces and their religious groups that were annexed to form Lebanon in 1920.1 Lebanon is the only country in the Arab world whose territory has more mountains than desert, and its majestic mountains are its most distinctive geological feature. Its tall peaks were once covered with forest, and Lebanon’s distinctive cedar trees became its national symbol; today their remains can be seen in underground tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo. Their majesty remains on Lebanon’s flag and on the tails of Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines’ planes. But the mountains are one of many features that render Lebanon as a distinct entity in the Middle East. It is the only country in the region with a significant Christian population. It is the only country in the Middle East with a “confessional” government, where religious distinctions apportion political and social power (though the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is moving in that direction). It is one of only a few Arab countries to have a significant Shi’a population, around 40 percent (lower than Bahrain’s 70 percent or Iraq’s perhaps 60 percent, but higher than any other Arab country). It is the only Middle Eastern country where members of the Druze faith have played a significant social and political role in the life

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Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Modern History of Lebanon 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Demographics of Lebanon 49
  • Chapter 3 - Political and Economic Development in Lebanon 69
  • Chapter 4 - Hezbollah in Lebanon 103
  • Chapter 5 - The Lebanese Regional Neighborhood 121
  • Chapter 6 - Lebanon’s Military Forces 135
  • Chapter 7 - The United States and Lebanon 145
  • Epilogue 157
  • Appendix A - Biographies 161
  • Appendix B - Chronology 169
  • Appendix C - Documents 171
  • Appendix D - Presidents and Prime Ministers of Lebanon 187
  • Glossary 191
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 197
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