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Lebanon is named for the major mountain range that runs north to south through the middle of the country.
The Cedars of Lebanon, famous since Biblical times, are now protected in a few mountain groves.
This identity strengthened in the 1940s, when Lebanon gained independence.
With the rise of Islam in the East, the population adopted Arabic culture but also maintained its multi-religious character as the mountains of Lebanon became a haven for various religious sects.
Arabic is the official language of the country, and is even spoken by the minority population of Lebanese Jews.
The Armenian population speaks mostly Armenian or Turkish, while Assyrians speak Syriac. A land of varied terrain, Lebanon encompasses coastline, mountain, and fertile growing regions such as the Bekáa Valley, which is a primary cereal-producing region.
During the next 50 years, the people of Lebanon became increasingly interested in Western culture, independence from the Ottomans, and a revival of the Arabic language.
With the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, England and France divided the area into English and French protectorates.