Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than 12,000 yearsâ€”predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for nearly 2,500 years (3000â€“539 BC). Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five provinces that comprise modern Lebanon were mandated to France. The French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon, which was mostly populated by Maronite Catholics and Druze, to include more Muslim elements. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, and established a unique political system, known as confessionalism, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities. French troops withdrew in 1946.