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Stay Connected to PBS Subscribe to our Previews newsletter for a sneak peek at your favorite programs. Check Out PBS Video Watch local and national programs from anywhere at anytime. Lebanon, lasting from 1975 to 1990 and resulting in an estimated 120,000 fatalities. As of 2012, approximately 76,000 people remain displaced within Lebanon. Before the war, Lebanon was multisectarian, with Sunni Muslims and Christians being the majorities in the coastal cities, Shia Muslims being mainly based in the south and the Beqaa Valley to the east, and with the mountain populations being mostly Druze and Christian. 1975, then Leftist, pan-Arabist and Muslim Lebanese groups formed an alliance with the Palestinians. During the course of the fighting, alliances shifted rapidly and unpredictably.
The 1989 Taif Agreement marked the beginning of the end of the fighting. In January 1989, a committee appointed by the Arab League began to formulate solutions to the conflict. In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment. This section needs additional citations for verification.
An 1860 civil war between Druze and Maronites erupted in the Ottoman Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon, which had been divided between them in 1842. It resulted in the massacre of about 10,000 Christians and at least 6,000 Druzes. World War I was hard for the Lebanese. While the rest of the world was occupied with the World War, the people in Lebanon were suffering from a famine that would last nearly four years. France took control of the area under the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon under the League of Nations. The French created the state of Greater Lebanon as a safe haven for the Maronites, but included a large Muslim population within the borders.
In 1936, the Maronite Phalange party was founded by Pierre Gemayel. World War II and the 1940s brought great change to Lebanon and the Middle East. Lebanon was promised independence and on 22 November 1943, during World War II, it was achieved. Free French troops, who had invaded Lebanon in 1941 to rid Beirut of the Vichy French forces, left the country in 1946.
The Maronites assumed power over the country and economy. In July 1958, Lebanon was threatened by a civil war between Maronite Christians and Muslims. President Camille Chamoun had attempted to break the stranglehold on Lebanese politics exercised by traditional political families in Lebanon. In previous years, tensions with Egypt had escalated in 1956 when the non-aligned President, Camille Chamoun, did not break off diplomatic relations with the Western powers that attacked Egypt during the Suez Crisis, angering Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. But his Lebanese pan-Arabist Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Rashid Karami supported Nasser in 1956 and 1958.