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History of Lebanon

Switzerland of the East (1943 AD - 1969 AD)


1943 National Pact

The Lebanese political Christian and Muslim leaders forged an unwritten National Pact post independence in 1943. The pact was designed to promote cooperation among the rival religious groups starting a unique concept of a confessional democracy. The pact states that Lebanon is an independent country with Arabic and European cultures.

The pact was partly grounded in the 1932 census implementing a distribution of seats in the parliament on a ratio of 6 to 5: Christians to Muslims.

The Major administrative positions were also distributed among major sects with: the President is to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of the parliament a Shiite Muslim.

Switzerland of the East

Lebanon enjoyed three decades of prosperity under a free-market economy. Tourism, agriculture, education and democracy flourished and advanced claming for Lebanon the title ‘Switzerland of the East’, and for Beirut ‘ Paris of the Middle East’. Lebanon was known to be the most democratic country in the Arab league.

However, the golden decades of this tiny country of Lebanon did not continue to thrive with the surrounding regional and international events and discord of that era.

1948 and 1959 Events

The first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 sent about 150,000 Palestinians to refugee camps in Lebanon. Palestinians come to play an important part in Lebanese politics benefiting from the political freedom atmosphere that does not exist in other Arab states.

1958, the rising star of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel-Nasser threatened to absorb Lebanon into a short-lived union of Syria and Egypt. Internal tensions were high, and a short rebellion erupted.

Lebanese President Camille Chamoun invoked the protection of Lebanon under the Eisenhower doctrine and the three-month rebellion was ended with US intervention.

Christians and Muslims leaders tried to keep Lebanon neutral to maintain the economical and cultural boom that continued exceptionally till the end of the sixties.

(1967-1969) Lebanon maintained a neutral role in the Six-Day War of 1967 between Arab countries and Israel. The war sent another wave of Palestinian refugees to Lebanon.

Saheka, the Syrian-Palestinian guerrilla and PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) militia were increasing in numbers and threatening the stability of Lebanon by controlling the civilian Palestinian refugee camps and other Lebanese territories.

They gained sympathy and support from some groups of Muslims and from Arab-nationalists in Lebanon. The Arab countries prevented any Palestinian martial activities in their lands.

However, they pressured allowing Palestinians using the Lebanese land to mount raids on Israel in the Arab Cairo agreement of 1969. Lebanon started moving toward its darkest phase in modern history.


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