Last updated on: 5/21/2008 3:14:00 PM PST
What Is Lebanon?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Lebanon's Ministry of Tourism website (accessed Apr. 13, 2007) gave the following geographical and historical description of Lebanon:
"Lebanon's diverse patchwork of Mediterranean-lapped coast, rugged alpine peaks, and green fertile valleys is packed into a parcel of land some 225km long and 46km wide – an area approximately the size of Cyprus or Connecticut. An ancient land, Lebanon features in the writings of Homer and in the Old Testament. Its cities were major outposts and seaports in Phoenician and Roman times, just two of the great civilizations that touched this important Middle Eastern crossroads...
There are four main geographic regions in Lebanon, differentiated by topography and climate. From west to east, they include: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon Range, the Békaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range.
The Anti-Lebanon Range is a stretch of arid mountains that rise to the east of the Békaa Valley and form part of the country's eastern border with Syria.
The Békaa Valley, known in ancient times as 'the breadbasket' or 'granary' of the Roman Empire, is still the country's main agricultural region. Located on a high plateau between the country's two mountain ranges, the river-fed Békaa supports the production of tomatoes, potatoes, wheat, olives, and grapes, even despite summers that are hot and dry...
The Mount Lebanon Range includes numerous rivers that fizz with snowmelt, steep-walled gullies that shade grottoes once the hideout to those fleeing persecution, and also Lebanon's highest summit, Qornet Es-Saouda (3,090m). In winter, the high peaks are blanketed with snow, lending Lebanon its name, Lubnan, the Arabic word for 'white.'
The Mount Lebanon Range is also the location of Lebanon's Cedar Reserves. The great cedar forests of Lebanon, now protected, are famous for their use in the construction of some of the holiest buildings in the region, indeed the world, including Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock and Solomon's Temple."
Apr. 13, 2007 - Ministry of Tourism, Lebanon
The CIA World Factbook, an online publication prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the use of US government officials, in an entry on Lebanon (accessed Apr. 13, 2007), contained the following description:
"Following the capture of Syria from the Ottoman Empire by Anglo-French forces in 1918, France received a mandate over this territory and separated out a region of Lebanon in 1920. France granted this area independence in 1943. A 15-year civil war (1976-1991) 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. Damascus justified its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing Beirut's requests and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord.
Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, however, encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The passage of UNSCR 1559 in early October 2004 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - further emboldened Lebanese groups opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 20 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ('the Cedar Revolution'). Syria finally withdrew the remainder of its military forces from Lebanon in April 2005.
In May-June 2005, 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. Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in July 2006 leading to a 34-day conflict with Israel. UNSCR 1701, which passed in August 2006, called for the disarmament of Hizballah."
Apr. 13, 2007 - Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - The World Factbook