Lebanon is an absolutely gorgeous country.
It graciously blends both Middle Eastern and Western values, standing out as one of the most multicultural nations in its region. You won’t find yourself in many countries that have people speaking three different languages in one sentence. Lebanon is a country that respects both tradition and modernism, where both Christianity and Islam are equally as influential.
Yet, it is also a country that is all too familiar with sheer misfortune. With the unrest of many of its neighboring countries seeping into the nation, it’s constantly on the receiving end of intervention. But, to truly understand Lebanon as it stands today, you have to go all the way back to 1975, when the Lebanese Civil War began.
By the time 1975 came around, Lebanon was a remarkably diverse country, both ethnically and religiously. The Maronite Christians, Orthodox Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims were the most dominant groups. The Lebanese government was run with major influence of the Maronite Christians. From 1920 to the mid 1940s, the connection between government and religion had been largely imposed by French colonialism, and the governmental structure was mostly in favor of the Christian population. Yet, Islam was still very prevalent, and the country had a huge Muslim population. As the state of Israel was being instituted from 1948 to 1967, thousands of Palestinian refugees had settled in Lebanon, which dramatically shifted the demographic steadiness towards Muslims. Many left wing political movements were against the Western-style of governing that had been emphasized by the Maronites. Conflict between forces from Palestine and the Maronite population began in 1975, with alliances constantly fluctuating. The war is divided into various time periods, each one representing Syrian and Israeli intervention, followed by Syrian occupation. It is roughly evaluated that around 150,000 people were killed, with another 100,000 injuries. Around 250,000 individuals left the country for good.
It is also important to note that there were a plethora of other political movements and events that charged Lebanon’s violent breakdown, such as: the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islamic Fundamentalism, and Arab Nationalism, among many others. Arab Nationalism is an ideology that declares Arabs as a unified nation while glorifying Arab civilization and culture. The influence of Western ideologies is seen as an enemy in the eyes of many Arab nationalists. Islamic fundamentalism is a movement in which Muslims want to return to the fundamentals of Islam; essentially praising earlier times.
Although the war ended over two decades ago, violence still continued to ensue throughout the country. It’s still wounded from this decade and a half long war, as many parts of the country are still undergoing major reconstruction, both physically and emotionally. Any foreigner who simply visits Lebanon can see the scars it sustains from its years of adversity. Yet, beyond anything else, they will also see united strength that purely does not exist anywhere else in the world.