The small Middle East
mountainous country of Lebanon was first settled around 3000 BC by the Phoenicians, and was eventually absorbed into the Holy Roman Empire.
Additionally invaded and conquered over the centuries by the Assyrians, Ayyubids, Babylonians, Byzantines, Mamluks and Ottomans, it was Turkey's
defeat in World War I, and the subsequent influence of the French
that transformed the country into the modern land we know today.
Lebanon finally gained its independence in 1943, but was unfortunately ravaged by a 15-year civil war that thankfully ended in 1990.
At that war's conclusion, the Lebanese economy had been destroyed, hundreds of thousands were killed, and part of the country was left in ruins. Despite the ending turmoil the Lebanese government and people established a more equitable political system, and began in earnest to rebuild the damaged infrastructure of their country.
Admittedly, some historic cultural and religious conflicts (rather common in the Middle East
) do remain, and the country still struggles with needed reforms.
In February of 2005, Lebanon's former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a car bomb explosion, subsequently provoking a series of protests in Beirut, known as the Cedar Revolution - whose main goal was the withdrawal of Syrian
troops from Lebanon.
Following the Cedar Revolution, in the summer of 2006, a group of Hezbollah forces within Lebanon fired rockets at Israeli
border towns sparking a war between Israel
and Lebanon. Although the war lasted only a few months, the conflict was brutal and bloody leaving over 1,200 citizens dead.
Conflict with Lebanon continued in 2007 as fighting broke out in Nahr al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp, against Lebanese Armed Forces and an Islamist militant organization causing the 40,000 residents of the camp to flee the area.
More recently, the national unity government collapsed, pushing Lebanon into a major political crisis. Najib Mikati was elected Prime Minister in March of 2011, and the country is moving forward in forming a new government.
Today, Lebanon is again finding its rightful place in the world, and the world is paying attention. The historic cities of Beirut and Tripoli, and the remarkable Phoenician history (with its well preserved ruins) have drawn an increasing number of visitors.
However, the U.S.
Department of State and other world governments strongly warn citizens against travel to Lebanon at this moment in time, as the country struggles to regain its footing.