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View series: The Middle East since the beginning of the 20th century

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Creation of Great Lebanon

This map is part of a series of 18 animated maps showing the history of The Middle East since the beginning of the 20th century.

With the acquisition and reinforcement of Lebanon’s autonomy under the Ottomans, thanks to the intervention of Europe and notably of France, Lebanese nationalism dominated the country at the time of the Versailles Peace Conference.

The Christians, and in particular the Maronites, were in a strong position: they were the most populous group and dominated Lebanese society and the economy. Traumatized by the massacres of 1860, most Christians were fiercely opposed to union with Syria.

Aware of the economic realities and arguing that the former Ottoman Governorate no longer constituted a viable state, the nationalists called for a Great Lebanon, based on the Emirate ruled by Bashir II.

Since these demands suited France’s plans, a Mandate for Great Lebanon was approved at the San Remo Conference.

However, many Muslims and some Orthodox Christians denounced this move and wanted union with Syria, in the name of Arab nationalism and because of their long-standing economic links with the Syrian provinces.

To persuade the Sunnites to accept the proposal for Great Lebanon, the French decided to create an economic union for Lebanon and Syria.

In 1926, the Lebanese Republic’s Constitution adopted the concept of political inter-denominationalism, in order to ensure fair political representation for the 19 communities living in Great Lebanon.