Lebanon, Mount

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LEBANON, MOUNT

a rugged mountain range that constitutes the geographical core around which modern-day lebanon was established in 1920.


Mount Lebanon extends from the hinterland of Tripoli in the north to that of Sidon in the south. Because of its geographical isolation and rugged landscape, it historically attracted minorities in search of a haven from persecution. Maronites moved into the area in the seventh century, and they continue to this day to form the majority of its population. South of the Beirut-Damascus highway, Mount Lebanon is predominantly populated by Druze. Smaller Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities also inhabit the area.

Over the centuries, Mount Lebanon developed its own traditions and a distinct identity. Under Ottoman rule (15161916), it enjoyed considerable political autonomy. Governance of the area was in the hands of an indigenous amir, who paid nominal allegiance to the Ottoman sultan and oversaw a political structure dominated by a few powerful local families. Following intercommunal hostilities and the mass killing of Christians by Druze in 1860, European countries, particularly France, pressured the authorities in Istanbul to formally grant the area autonomous status in the Ottoman Empire. The so-called Règlement Organique of 1861, guaranteed by the Great Powers, thus established Mount Lebanon as a self-governing province headed by a Christian governor. This development paved the way for the subsequent creation of the modern state of Lebanon in 1920, when the French mandatory power added parts of Greater Syria to Mount Lebanon. Today Mount Lebanon refers to one of the five administrative provinces (governorates) into which Lebanon is divided.

see also druze; greater syria; maronites.


Bibliography


Zamir, Meir. The Formation of Modern Lebanon. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.

guilain p. denoeux