This identity strengthened in the 1940s, when Lebanon gained independence.
As a witness to the rise and fall of the Mesopotamian, Hittite, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek empires, Lebanon has a distinct history. C., the Canaanites, who became known as Phoenicians, were the first inhabitants of Lebanon.
These efforts are ongoing at the end of the twentieth century.
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For 16 years, Lebanon was torn apart by fighting between Christians and Muslims.
Although a tentative peace agreement in 1991 ended the war, many problems remain.
Various government offices are still reserved for specific sects: the prime minister is always a Sunni Muslim; the president is always a Maronite, and the speaker of the house is always a Shiite.
Throughout its history, there have been movements within Lebanon to "deconfessionalize"—to create a one-person, one-vote system instead of apportioning representation and political offices by religious affiliation.
Syria forms Lebanon's northern and eastern borders.
Israel lies directly south of Lebanon, with the Mediterranean Sea to the west.
Christians, who account for under two-fifths of the total Lebanese population, include the Maronites (the most numerous and the most powerful) at 22 percent, the Eastern Orthodox at 10 percent; Melkites (Greek Catholics) and Armenians, each at 6 percent, and Protestants at 2.5 percent.
Through Lebanon's unwritten National Pact of 1943, political power was apportioned between Christians and Muslims.
A succession of peoples, including Persians, Greeks, and Romans, challenged Phoenician power.