Stamps issued: 1941-PRESENT
A republic in western Asia, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. Under Turkish rule until 1918, Lebanon was occupied by the French after World War I under a League of Nations mandate. It was declared independent in 1941, and in 1944, its independence was implemented. Lebanon's population is 57 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian, and from 1943, the two groups co-existed through a constitutional apportioning of key government posts. During 1969-75, Palestinian commando groups became increasingly powerful in Lebanon, which they used as a base for raids against Israel. Efforts of the government to restrain Palestinian activities, with which many Lebanese Muslims sympathized, and after 1970 Israeli counterattacks against Palestinian bases in southern Lebanon destabilized the Lebanese government. During 1965-76, these tensions erupted in civil war. Generally, Arab nations supported the Palestinians and leftist Muslim factions, while Israel supported the various Christian groups. In 1976, Syria intervened, suppressed PLO activity and attempted to mediate the conflict. The civil war resumed in 1981, and the country disintegrated into chaos between numerous Muslim and Christian groups, variously backed by Syria and Israel. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon in an effort to finally suppress Palestinian terrorist activities, withdrawing, under U.S. pressure, to a security zone in the south in 1983. Continuing terrorist operations in southern Lebanon brought Israeli raids in 1993 and 1996.