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On numerous occasions religious diversity has eclipsed the sense of belonging to a common state.
When the civil war erupted in the mid-1970s, all formerly suppressed differences and incongruent loyalties emerged and came to dominate the political arena, fuel hatred, and provide an easy ground for outside powers to interfere in the country's affairs. Under the Ta'if agreement the civil war ended, the Christians lost some of their political power, and a new government of technocrats came into power with reconstruction highest on its agenda.
Later, France gave Lebanon a parliamentary system and, for the first time in the Middle East, created a nation where Christians had a strong political presence: each government office was apportioned to a representative of the country's main sects, with the presidency reserved for the Maronite Christians.
The privileging of Christians in governmental positions was one of the main reasons for the civil war, when the population percentage shifted in favor of the Muslims. Although the various communities in Lebanon share a similar ethnic background, the fact that they are of different religions and they define their cultural and often geographical boundaries through religious affiliation has always been a source of discord.
Today, all Lebanese speak Arabic; most of them, especially the upper and middle classes, speak French; recently, English has become increasingly important. The cedar in the center of the Lebanese flag is the symbol of six thousand years of history: the cedar was Lebanon's chief export in ancient times.
The location of the cedar tree in the middle of the flag touching the upper and lower red stripes is also a reminder of Lebanon's constant troubles because the red stripes represent the blood spilt by the Lebanese throughout their history.
and absorbed aspects of the many other cultures around them.
The Phoenicians are celebrated today in the government-supervised history books as the inventors of the alphabet and as the symbol of Lebanon's golden past.
Any profile who address those topics will be banned. Lebanon has seen many invasions, which introduced new cultures and languages.The Canaanites, the first known settlers in the country, spoke a Semitic language.The average life expectancy for those born at the end of the twentieth century was 69.35 years.Whereas at independence, gained in 1943, the population was one-half Christian and one-half Muslim, a higher birth rate among Shiite Muslims upset this balance and was one of the causes of the civil war.