Lebanon is a microcosm of the peoples, cultures and religions found in the Middle East region as a whole. Under Ottoman rule from the 16th century until World War I, that province of mountainous eastern Syria known as Mt. Lebanon was home and refuge for various religious and ethnic communities. Lebanon has a long history of foreign intervention. In the 19th century, European powers established their trade and investment interests under the guise of “protecting” one or another group within Lebanon. The French adopted the Maronite Catholics and Russia the Orthodox Christians of Syria and Palestine, while the British favored the Druze. This insertion of foreign interests occurred in the course of a protracted shift of power in the Mt. Lebanon area from Druze to Maronites and contributed to the tensions among the various communities and ruling clans.