An anti-American protester wearing a Lebanese flag wrapped around his face gestures while dancing around burning anti-American placards during a protest near the U.S. Embassy in Aukar, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 15, 2005.
Last Updated January 30, 2007
A Lebanese Christian girl prays upon arriving for Sunday Mass in the southern port city of Sidon (CP photo)
Lebanon has been the home of civilized cultures for nearly 5,000 years. Phoenicians, originally from Babylon, settled on a narrow strip of land on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean in 2700 BC, and established city-kingdoms in what are now Tripoli, Sidon and Beirut.
The region has been the territory of the Phoenicians, the Assyrians, Persians, the Roman Empire, Arabs, Egyptians, the Ottoman Empire and France, before gaining independence in 1943. As a result, Lebanese culture is rich with influences from them all.
From its independence to the start of the civil war in 1975, Lebanon was the wealthiest country in the region and was held up as an example of co-operation between different cultures and religions. Beirut was sometimes called the "Paris of the Middle East."
Early 16th century
Lebanon becomes part of the Ottoman Empire. It rules through local leaders who are able to secure considerable autonomy from the Empire.
After the First World War, the League of Nations gives the mandate of Syria, including Lebanon, to France.
The Free French government, in exile in London, recognizes Lebanon's independence.
The last French troops leave Lebanon.
The establishment of Israel and the Arab-Israeli War brings an influx of Palestinians to Lebanon.
Lebanese President Camille Chamoun asks the U.S. for assistance in quelling a Muslim rebellion. The U.S. briefly dispatches 5,000 marines to Lebanon.
The Six-Day War. Israel begins its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A second wave of Palestinian refugees comes to Lebanon.
Tensions between Muslim and Maronite Christian groups in Lebanon boil over when shots are fired at a church and a bus full of Palestinians is ambushed in East Beirut. The Lebanese civil war begins.
The Palestine Liberation Organization joins with Muslim fighters. Fighting spreads to most parts of Lebanon. The president calls for support from Syrian troops. The Arab Deterrent Force is established to separate Muslim and Christian fighters in Lebanon.
The PLO attacks a bus in northern Israel. Israeli forces begin searching for PLO bases in southern Lebanon. The UN Security Council calls for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces, to be replaced by a UN Interim Force.
The PLO uses positions in southern Lebanon as bases for artillery attacks on Israel. The U.S. negotiates a ceasefire among Syria, the PLO and Israel.
Israeli forces invade Lebanon a second time moving into southern Lebanon and, with the help of Christian forces there, into East Beirut. Multinational forces arrive in Beirut. U.S. mediation prompts the withdrawal of PLO and Syrian fighters. Bashir Gemayel, a Christian, is elected president, but is killed three weeks later. Christian troops retaliate by killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, as Israeli troops encircled the camps. Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon would later resign after an inquiry found him indirectly responsible for the massacre.
Lebanon, Israel and the U.S. sign an agreement for Israeli withdrawal, but Syria refuses to pull out its troops. Israeli troops pull back from their positions in southern Lebanon, but maintain a presence in a zone near the Israeli border. A suicide bomb attack at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut kills 63 people. An attack on the headquarters of American and French forces kills 298 people.
The president of the American University of Beirut is assassinated. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut is again attacked; nine people are killed.
Heavy fighting among various Lebanese, Palestinian, leftist, Muslim, Druze and Christian factions. An explosion in Tripoli kills 60 people in June 1985.
Prime Minister Rashid Karami is assassinated.
At the end of his term in office, President Amin Gemayel appoints Gen. Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, acting prime minister. Muslim groups reject Aoun and back Salim al-Hoss, a Sunni Muslim, as their own prime minister.
A committee appointed by the Arab League appoints Rene Mouawad president of Lebanon. He is assassinated less than three weeks later and replaced by Elias Hrawi. Rafik Hariri is named prime minister.
Aoun's forces are defeated by Syria and Aoun is exiled to France. President Hrawi and the parliament agree on constitutional amendments and the formation of a new National Assembly, with high offices and a fixed number of seats reserved for members of certain ethnic groups.
An amnesty law is passed, pardoning certain political crimes committed during the war. Militias formed during the war are dissolved, with the exception of Hezbollah, which retains its weapons. The civil war ends.
Elections for the National Assembly are held. Hezbollah wins eight seats in National Assembly elections.
Prime Minister Hariri and President Hrawi change the constitution to extend their terms three years.
An Israeli soldier weeps during the funeral of Sgt. Yotam Inbar in 1995. Sgt. Inbar was killed in a battle with Hezbollah guerrillas (CP photo)1996
Over a two-week period in April, Israeli forces attack Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, Beirut and the coastal region.
Gen. Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syria candidate, is elected president. Hariri resigns as prime minister, to be replaced by Salim al-Hoss.
In accordance with a 1978 UN Security Council resolution, Israel completes its withdrawal from the south of Lebanon. Hariri returns as prime minister.
A UN resolution calls on Syria to end its influence on Lebanese internal politics and withdraw its 20,000 troops from the country. It also calls for the disbanding of all Lebanese militias, most notably Hezbollah, and for a new presidential election. The next day, the National Assembly votes to extend the term of President Lahoud by three years.
An explosion in downtown Beirut kills 17 people in February, including former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Witnesses say the attack appeared to target Hariri's motorcade. Many Lebanese blame their country's Damascus-backed government and Syria - a charge both governments deny.
Thousands of demonstrators defy a government protest ban, gathering in Beirut to demand Syria withdraw its army from Lebanon.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Omar Karami and his cabinet resign, and Syria pulls the last of its troops from the country at the end of April.
Hezbollah militants in Lebanon conduct a raid into Israel in July, killing eight Israeli soldiers and wounding another eight. The militants also capture two Israeli soldiers.
Israel retaliates by hitting roads and bridges in southern Lebanon and attacks the Beirut international airport, destroying runways and fuel storage tanks.
Two days after the start of the conflict, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay announces plans for evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon. Over the next few weeks, about 15,000 Canadians flee Lebanon on ships chartered by Ottawa.
The fighting continues for a month before a UN resolution and ceasefire take effect.
In November, Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a prominent anti-Syrian politician, is fatally shot while driving through a Christian suburb of Beirut. Many prominent Lebanese politicians accuse Syria of planning the assassination. Damascus and Hezbollah condemn the killing. Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilah denies his country was involved.
On Dec. 1, hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters pour into downtown Beirut demanding Prime Minister Fouad Siniora cede some power to the opposition or step down. Clashes between pro-government and anti-government groups continue for days, resulting in the death of one protester. Protests and counter-protests continue through the month.
Protests by Hezbollah-led protesters continue in January, with rioters burning tires and cars in Beirut, paralyzing the capital. Three people die in the protests. A brawl at Arab University between students from rival political factions prompts the Lebanese army to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Beirut.
At a Paris conference, international donors pledge $7.6 billion US in grants and loans to help Lebanon's government and its economic program. Canada's international co-operation minister, Josée Verner, added as much as $20 million Cdn in new money to the $30 million previously announced.
Canada and Lebanon
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