Lebanon, 1995 - 1996
Country name: Lebanese Republic 
Governement type: republic
National holiday: Independence Day, 22 November 
Historical background: Lebanon was the biblical 'land of milk and honey'. By around 2500 BC the coast had been colonised by the Phoenicians. In the 9th century BC, the Assyrians clomped in, then the Neo-Babylonians and then the Persians. The Phoenicians finally declined when Alexander the Great swept through the Middle East in the 4th century BC and Phoenicia was gradually Hellenised. In 64 BC, Pompey the Great conquered Phoenicia and it became part of the Roman province of Syria. As the Roman empire crumbled, Christianity gained momentum and Lebanon became part of the eastern Byzantine Empire in the 4th century AD. The Umayyuds, the first great Muslim dynasty, held sway in Lebanon for about a century. They were followed by the Abbasids in 750 until the 11th century and then by Fatimid dynasty. The Crusaders had their sights set on Jerusalem, but marched down the Syrian and Lebanese coast. The Muslim Ayyubids got their claws into Lebanon until they were overthrown by the Mamlukes, who ruled Lebanon for the next 300 years. The Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered Lebanon in 1516-17. In 1842, the Ottomans divided Mount Lebanon into two administrative regions, one Druze and the other Maronite. The Ottomans, under pressure from Europe, created a single Lebanese administrative unit. Following the Allied victory in 1918, Lebanon came under French rule. During WWII Lebanon became fully independent and developed into a major trade centre. The combination of an internal unbalanced of power in favor of the Christian and the arrival of large numbers of diplaced displaced Palestinians create a civil war situation which broke out in 1975. Over the next 20 years, insanely complicated civil and international wars. The long war has cost some 150,000 Lebanese lives and left the country in a ruinous state. 
Geographic coordinates:
33 50 N, 35 50 E 
Map: Lebanon
Highest point: Qurnat as Sawda' 3,088 m
Border countries: Israel & Syria
Capital: Beirut
Major cities: Tripoli, Zahle, Saïda, Tyr
Population: 3.7 millions (2003)
Density: 353.63  hab./km²
Life expectancy: 72 years
Ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%
Languages: Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Religion: Muslim 70% (including Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 30% (including Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Protestant)
Currency: Lebanese pound 
GDP per capita: € 4,800 (2002 est)
Internet country code: .lb

Flag description: three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width), and red with a green cedar tree centered in the white band  Flag.
National anthem: listen the anthem illustrated with the Lebnaise coat of arms.
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