They also founded colonies in North Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean.
Throughout its history, there have been movements within Lebanon to "deconfessionalize"—to create a one-person, one-vote system instead of apportioning representation and political offices by religious affiliation.
These efforts are ongoing at the end of the twentieth century.
Early Lebanese settlers in America came mostly from Beirut, Mount Hermon, and surrounding regions of present-day Lebanon, a nation located at the extreme eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.
Syria forms Lebanon's northern and eastern borders.
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.
After the Ottoman Empire gained general control of the area in 1516, Lebanon continued to maintain a feudal system of rule by local chieftains.
From 1516 until 1916, when the Ottoman Empire was dismembered by the victors of World War I, the area that is now Lebanon was part of the Ottoman province of Greater Syria.
At the time of the first immigration wave to the West, Lebanon was not yet a sovereign nation; Because the Ottomans administered their subject peoples according to their religious affiliation, early immigrants from Greater Syria identified with their religious sect rather than any nationality.
Since 1992, power has been shared equally by both groups.