Mount Lebanon
Overview
 
Mount Lebanon as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about 170 km (105.6 mi), parallel to the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 coast with the highest peak, Qurnat as Sawda'
Qurnat as Sawda'
Qurnat as Sawdā’ is the highest point in Lebanon, at 3,088 meters above sea level.Lebanon Peaks Mount Lebanon peaks above 1800m are covered with snow almost 4 months a year, and the peaks above 2500m are covered around 6 months a year....

, at 3088 m (10,131.2 ft). Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 has historically been defined by these mountains, which provided protection for the local population.
Encyclopedia
Mount Lebanon as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about 170 km (105.6 mi), parallel to the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 coast with the highest peak, Qurnat as Sawda'
Qurnat as Sawda'
Qurnat as Sawdā’ is the highest point in Lebanon, at 3,088 meters above sea level.Lebanon Peaks Mount Lebanon peaks above 1800m are covered with snow almost 4 months a year, and the peaks above 2500m are covered around 6 months a year....

, at 3088 m (10,131.2 ft). Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 has historically been defined by these mountains, which provided protection for the local population. In Lebanon the changes in scenery are not connected to geographical distances, but to altitudes. The mountains were known for their oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 and pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 forests. Also, in the high slopes of Mount Lebanon are the last remaining groves of the famous Cedars of Lebanon
Lebanon Cedar
Cedrus libani is a species of cedar native to the mountains of the Mediterranean region.There are two distinct types that are considered to be different subspecies or varieties. Lebanon cedar or Cedar of Lebanon Cedrus libani is a species of cedar native to the mountains of the Mediterranean...

 (Cedrus libani). The Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns used the forests from Mount Lebanon to build their ship fleet and to trade with their Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine neighbors. However, the Phoenicians and successor rulers replanted and restocked the range so that even as late as the 16th century, its forested area was considerable.

Etymology

The name Mount Lebanon traces back to the Semitic root lbn, meaning "white", likely a reference to the snow-covered mountains.

History of Mount Lebanon

Mount Lebanon is mentioned in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 several times. King Hiram I of Tyre sent engineers with Cedar wood which was abundant in Mount Lebanon, to build the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem. Since then the Cedar species known scientifically as Cedrus libani is often associated with Mount Lebanon. The Phoenicians used cedar to build ships in which they sailed the Mediterranean, thus they were the first to establish villages in Mount Lebanon and would live from cutting down Cedars and sending them to the coast.

After the 5th century, Christian monks who were followers of a hermit named Maroun, arrived from the Orontes valley in Northern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and began preaching their religion to the inhabitants of the northernmost parts of the mountain range. In the late 8th century a group known as the Maradites (also Jarajima) settled in North Lebanon following the order of the Byzantine Emperor, their mission was to raid Islamic territories in Syria. They merged with the local population refusing to leave after the emperor struck a deal with the Muslim Caliph of Damascus, thus they became part of the Maronite society. And in 1291 AD after the fall of Acre, the last crusader outpost in the Levant, the remnants of the European settlers who succeeded in escaping capture by the Mameluke
Mameluke
Mameluke was an American Thoroughbred race horse. Bred and raced by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, he was out of the mare, Schwester, and was sired by the 1936 Epsom Derby winner, Mahmoud who became the Leading sire in North America in 1946 and the Leading broodmare sire in North America in...

s settled in the Northern part of Lebanon, becoming part of the Maronite society.

In the 9th century, tribes from the "Jabal el Summaq" area north of Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, in Syria began settling the southern half of the mountain range. These tribes were known as the Tanoukhiyoun and in the 11th century they converted to the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 faith and ruled the areas of Mount Lebanon stretching from Metn in the north to Jezzine
Jezzine
Jezzine is a town in Lebanon, located from Sidon and south of Beirut. Surrounded by mountain peaks, pine forests, and at an average altitude of 950 m , it is the main summer resort and tourist destination of South Lebanon...

 in the south, this entire area became known as the ‘Jabal ad-Duruz’. In the early 17th century, Emir Fakhreddine the 2nd
Fakhr-al-Din II
Emir Fakhr-al-Din ibn Maan was the 1st prince of the State of Lebanon which has self-governed under the Ottoman Empire between the 17th and 19th centuries. Son of Prince Qorqmaz ibn Maan and Sit Nasab of the Tanukhi family, he was given the title "Emir" or Prince in Arabic because the Maan...

 ascended the throne in the Druze part of the mountains known as the Chouf. In an effort to unify Mount Lebanon, Emir Fakhreddine opened the door to Christian and in particular Maronite settlement of the Chouf and Metn.

Throughout the 18th century and into the 19th century more and more Maronites settled in the Druze regions of the Mount. The Druze viewed these Maronite settlements as a threat to their power in Mount Lebanon and in a series of clashes in the 1840s and 1860s a mini civil war erupted in the area resulting in the massacre of thousands of Christians. The Druze won militarily but not politically because European powers (mainly France and Britain) intervened on behalf of the Maronites and divided Mount Lebanon into two areas; Druze and Maronite. Seeing their authority decline in Mount Lebanon, few Lebanese Druzes began migrating to the new Jabal ad-Duruz in southern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. In 1861 the "Mount Lebanon" autonomous district was established within the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 system, under an international guarantee.

Mount Lebanon as a political name

Mount Lebanon also lent its name to two political designations: a semi-autonomous province in Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria is a European reference to the area that during European Renaissance from the late 15th to early 18th century was called the Levant within the early period of the Ottoman Empire, the Orient until the early 19th century, and Greater Syria until 1918...

 that existed since A.D. 1516 and the central Governorate
Governorate
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states, provinces, or colonies, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.The...

 of modern Lebanon (see Mount Lebanon Governorate
Mount Lebanon Governorate
Mount Lebanon is one of the Governorates of Lebanon. Its capital is Baabda. The overwhelming majority of its population is Maronites, Greek Orthodox, and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians...

). The Mount Lebanon administrative region emerged in a time of rise of nationalism
Rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire
The rise of the Western notion of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire eventually caused the break-down of the Ottoman millet concept...

 after the civil war of 1860: France intervened on behalf of the local Christian population and Britain on behalf of the Druze after the 1860 massacres, when 10,000 Christians were killed in clashes with the Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

. In 1861 the "Mount Lebanon" autonomous district was established within the Ottoman system, under an international guarantee. It was ruled by a non-Lebanese Christian subject of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 known locally as the "Mutasarrıf
Mutasarrif
In the Ottoman Empire, a mutasarrıf was the governor of a district. This administrative unit sometimes independent and sometimes was part of a vilayet , administered by a wali, and contained nahiye , each administered by a kaymakam.-External links:*...

", (one who rules the district Mutasarrifiyya). Christians formed the majority of the population of Mount Lebanon, with a significant number of Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

.

For decades the Christians pressured the European powers, to award them self determination by extending their small Lebanese territory to what they dubbed "Greater Lebanon", referring to a geographic unit comprising Mount Lebanon and its coast, and the Beqaa Valley
Beqaa Valley
The Beqaa Valley is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region...

 to its east. France took hold of the formally Ottoman holdings in the northern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, and expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon in 1920 to form Greater Lebanon which was to be populated by remnants of the Middle Eastern Christian community. While the Christians ended up gaining territorially the new borders merely ended the demographic dominance of Christians in the newly created territory of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

.

See also

  • Subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire
    Subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire
    The subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire were administrative divisions of the state organisation of the Ottoman Empire. Outside this system were various types of vassal and tributary states....

  • French Mandate of Lebanon
    French Mandate of Lebanon
    The state of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of modern Lebanon, was created in 1920 as part of the French scheme of dividing the French Mandate of Syria into six states....

  • Mount Lebanon Governorate
    Mount Lebanon Governorate
    Mount Lebanon is one of the Governorates of Lebanon. Its capital is Baabda. The overwhelming majority of its population is Maronites, Greek Orthodox, and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians...

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