Lebanon



Figure 1.--This class photograph is from Grand Lycée during the 1969-70 school year. Following French practice, the school required the children to wear smocks. This was class 7b. There was considerable difference in the styles of the smocks.

Lebanon is the Middle-Eastern country wedged between larger Syria and the Mediterrean Sea and Israel to the south. Lebanon has a diverse geography of sunny Mediterranean coast, rugged mountain peaks, and fertile valleys packed into a small territoty. Since the dawn of civilization, Lebanon has been a battleground for the larger more powerful nations which surround it. This began with the rise of powerful empires in the surounding lands: Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley. What is now modern Lebanon featuresdin the writings of Homer as well as Old Testament verses. Lebanese cities, especially the seaports were of great importance both in Phoenician and Roman times. We have a Lebanese history page. Lebanon was after World War I a French protectorate and French culture was of some importance for many years, including boys wear. We note smocks being extensive worn in Lebanese schools. I am not sure if this is still the case. The economy was largely agricultural. The El Bika Valley is a coastal are east of the mountains and was an important agricultural area. Aftr World War II, Lebanon was a rare area of stability and democracy and financial institutions became important. The Palesitinian Black September revolt in Jordan spilled over into Lebanon, destroying the fragil power sharing arangements. Syria controlled Lebanon for more than two decdes, but the country is now a tinder box of armed camps with the the Shi'a Hesbollah militia becoming increasingly important. We have begun to do some work on Lebanese schools. We also notice First Communion services. The calm depicted in these images is little in evidence in the chaotic current situation. Lebanon was once prosperous and known as the Switzerland of the Middle East. It has since degenerated into fractional fighting and dominated by Fundamentalist Islamic groups and Syria.

Geography

Lebanon is the Middle-Eastern country wedged between larger Syria and the Mediterrean Sea and Israel to the south. Lebanon has a diverse geography of sunny Mediterranean coast, rugged mountain peaks, and fertile valleys packed into a small territoty.

History

There is evidence of human habitation in Lebanon from about the development of modern man (around 50,000 BC). Lebanon is part of what came to be called the Levant. Since the dawn of civilization, Lebanon has been a battleground for the larger more powerful nations which surround it. This began with the rise of powerful empires in the surounding lands: Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley. What is now modern Lebanon featuresdin the writings of Homer as well as Old Testament verses. Lebanese cities, especially the seaports were of great importance both in Phoenician and Roman times. Americans and Europeans will be most familar with Biblical references to locations in what is modern Lebanon. Lebanese history is most notable for the diversity of people and religious groups which have been found there. Mountaneous Lebanon has proved to be a inaccessible refuge for a diverse group of people fleeing repression and persecution experienced in other areas of the Middle East. The principal groups in modern Lebanon are: the Maronites Christians (, Greek Orthodox Christians, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and the Druze The colonial powers with occupied Lebanon (the Ottoman Turks and the for a much shorter period the French) generally permitted a degree of religious liberty which left these religious sects to themselves and permitted a substantial degree of self government. The early years as an independent nation began a tradition of tolerance and diversity under the National Pact. This gradually deteriorated with the arrival of the Palistinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the outbreak of civil war. Today Lebanon is tinderbox controlled by religious based militias.

Economy

The economy was largely agricultural. The El Bika Valley is a coastal are east of the mountains and was an important agricultural area. After World War II, Lebanon was a rare area of stability and democracy and financial institutions became important. The Palesitinian Black September revolt in Jordan spilled over into Lebanon, destroying the fragil power sharing arangements. Syria controlled Lebanon for more than two decdes, but the country is now a tinder box of armed camps with the the Shi'a Hesbollah militia becoming increasingly important.

Chronology

Lebanon was after World War I a French protectorate and French culture was of some importance for many years, including boys wear. We note smocks being extensive worn in Lebanese schools. I am not sure if this is still the case.

Activities

We have begun to do some work on Lebanese schools. Religion is a very important factor in Lebanese lie. We also notice First Communion services. The calm depicted in these images is little in evidence in the chaotic current situation. Lebanon was once prosperous and known as the Switzerland of the Middle East. It has since degenerated into fractional fighting and dominated by Fundamentalist Islamic groups and Syria.

Ethnicity

Lebanon is an Arab country. An estimated 95 percent of the Lebanese population is Arab which includes the Druze. The remainder is Armenian (4 percent) and the rest a variety of different groups. There are, however, no precise data. The Lebanese Government does not collect census data on ethnic background of its people because of the political sensitivities. The actual ethnic/demographic makeup is thus unknown to any level of certainty. The French Mandate government conducted the kast census (1932). Arab is commonly used to denote ethnicity in the Middle East, but it is in reality a cultural concept, the various people conuered by invading Arab armies during the medieval era. Thus the ethnicity of Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa varies from country to country. The Arabs fired by Islan conquered the Levant from the Byzantine Empire (7th century AD). The ethnicity of the peope they conquered was a mixture of both indigenous and foreign elements. The foreign elements included both conquerors and traders. The Levant was surrounded by powerful empires that in the orocess of invasion and rule left their imprint on Lebnon. The Phoenicians were a trading people who conducted commerce throughout the MedirMediterranean and beyond. This also left its ethnic imprint on Lebanon. The bitter fighting during the Civil War (1970-82) has caused many Christians in Lebanon to reassess the term Arab. More Christians now reject the term Arab as to associated with Islam and prefer to descibe their etnicity as Phoenicians, descendents of ancient Canaanites. ctually this is also the actual thnicity of most Muslim Lebanese. Christians throughout the Arab world are under asault by Muslim fundamentalists. Lebanon has the highest percentage of Christians of all the different Arab countries.

Religion

Lebanon is tradutunally a multi-relgious county with Christians, Jews and Muslims making jup the primary faiths. The rekative make u has varied iver tine. . Thereare also Druze a religion largeky assiciated with Shi'a Islam. There are also ethic asiciations with the various religions. The region was largely Cghristianized during theRoman/Byzantine era. This was followed by the Islamic conquest of the Levant. Islam initually was tolerant if other religions which allowed a multi-religious climate to flourish in the Levant. The Ottoman Conquest also meant a degree of toleration, in part to ensure that the Muslim arabs did not dominate and threaten Ottoman rule. The Druze complicated the religious pucture. The Europeans intervened to protect Marionite Christians. Jews largely fled after World War II and Arab attacks in Jews. As in other Arab countries, the Chrustians have come under increaing pressure with the growth of fudamentalist Islam.







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Created: April 21, 2004
Last updated: 9:06 AM 12/17/2012