The “Land of Milk and Honey” of the Biblical era. Ca. 2500 BC: The coast was colonized by the Phoenicians, one of the first great civilizations of the Mediterranean Basin. They ruled the sea thanks to their superior vessel and their talent as navigators, proved to be extraordinary artisans and invented the first real alphabet. 1516-1517: Ottoman Sultan Selim I annexed Lebanon. 1842: The Ottomans divided Mount Lebanon into two administrative regions, one of the Druze and the other Maronite. 1914-1918: Lebanon was placed under the military control of the Turks and suffered under a severe famine. After the Allied Victory, Lebanon became a mandate of France. 1940-1945: After regaining complete independence during the Second World War, Lebanon became an important commercial and financial centre. An unspoken national pact guaranteed a distribution of power between Maronite Christians and Muslims. 1975: Civil war broke out between a chiefly Muslim leftist coalition and the militias of the Christian right. 1990-2000: The long war, which cost 150,000 Lebanese lives, left the country in a state of ruin.