History of Lebanon: Under the Ottoman Empire

History of Lebanon: Under the Ottoman Empire Last updated on Wednesday 21st April 2010

In 1516 when the Ottoman Turks conquered the entire eastern Mediterranean coast, Lebanon became part of the Ottoman Empire. For three centuries the Ottomans granted local leaders relative autonomy; two powerful chieftains emerged, one Druze and one Maronite, but the intervening years were not without turmoil.

Under Ottoman rule, Lebanon developed economic and religious ties with Europe. Open to the West, it became a hot bed of political strife between various foreign nations including France, Russia and Britain. These powerful countries assumed the protection of certain ethnic- religious groups, with France supporting the Christian Maronites.

In 1860, at the end of a bloody civil war that culminated in a massacre of the Maronites by the Druze, Britain and France intervened and pressured the Turks into establishing a new Christian-dominated administration for Lebanon which lasted until World War I.

After World War I, Lebanon became a French mandate. During the 1920s the French redefined Lebanon's borders, combining the largely Muslim-inhabited coastal plain with the Christian-dominated mountains to create the Republic of Lebanon. It remained under French mandate until 1943, when Lebanon became fully independent.

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