On of the smallest nations in Asia, Lebanon occupies an area of 10,452 square km. It is strategically located in Western Asia near the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Peninsula. Its location has shaped its rich history by attracting settlers and foreign invaders, and over the years the country has developed great ethnic and cultural diversity.
A Brief History of Lebanon
The first human settlements were established in Lebanon about 7,000 years ago. The Roman Empire annexed the region in 64 BCE, and Christianity soon flourished. The Maronite Church was established in Lebanon, as well as the Druze religion. Christianity in Lebanon was threatened during the Arab invasion, but the Maronites managed to protect their identity despite pressures from the Arab Muslims who ruled the region. Between 1516 and 1918, Lebanon was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, and then under French rule after the First World War. In 1943, Lebanon gained independence from all foreign rule and formed a confessional system of government which blended religion and politics.
History of Lebanon's Flag
Lebanon has had several flags throughout its history, which were typically dependent on the ruling power at a given time. During the French Mandate of Lebanon, a flag somewhat similar to the current Lebanese flag was used. However, the stripes were vertical instead of horizontal, and were blue, white, and red, arranged from the hoist side of the flag to the fly side. A cedar tree was also featured at the center of the flag, but it had a brown trunk instead of the green cedar in the current flag. This flag was in use from 1920 to 1943, and the current flag was first adopted on December 7, 1943 when the country gained independence from France.
Lebanon’s flag is rectangular in shape and contains three horizontal stripes. The upper and the lower stripes are red in color, while the middle stripe is white. The width of the stripes have a ratio of 1:2:1. Thus, the white stripe is twice as thick as the red stripes. The white stripe features the Lebanon cedar, or green cedar, in the center. The cedar touches the inner edges of both the upper and the lower red stripes.
The flag's red colored stripes serve as a reminder of the blood shed by the people of Lebanon to protect their country against invading foreign powers. The white color symbolises peace and purity, as well as snow. The Lebanon cedar featured in the center of the flag has significant meaning, as it is referenced in various biblical passages, and is believed to epitomize peace, eternity, and holiness. The cedar grows in Lebanon's mountains and is a central feature on the flag.