Location in Lebanon
|Governorate||Mount Lebanon Governorate|
|• Land||191 sq mi (495 km2)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
Located south-east of Beirut, the region comprises a narrow coastal strip notable for the Christian town of Damour, and the valleys and mountains of the western slopes of Jabal Barouk, the name of the local Mount Lebanon massif. Chouf is the heartland of the Lebanese Druze community, with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt residing at the Jumblatt palace in the town of Moukhtara. The Emirs of Lebanon used to have their residence in Chouf, most notably Bachir Chehab II, who built the magnificent palace of Beiteddine during the first half of the 19th century. Another historical town, located just below Beiteddine, is Deir al Qamar (the monastery of the Moon).
Baakline, another large town in the Chouf, used to be the capital of old Mountain of Lebanon, where Amir Fakher El-Deen was born. He was well liked by both Christians and Druze. He switched his residence to Deir al Qamar symbolizing his neutrality.
The Chouf is living proof of the harmony between Maronite Christians and Druze, although several violent clashes have occurred between the two groups in 1848, 1860 and most recently in 1983-1984, during the Lebanese Civil War (Mountain War, Arabic: Harb el-Jabal). This saw the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), a traditionally Druze orientated party, face the Lebanese Forces (LF), comprising Maronite Christians. Reconciliation between the Druze and Christian communities came to fruition on August 8, 2001, when the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir made a historic visit to the Chouf and met with Druze leader, Jumblatt.
Despite a bloody history, the Chouf is one of the best-preserved Lebanese districts and its nature has been generally spared from the intense building frenzy that has spoiled neighbouring Metn and Kesrouan. The biggest forest of Cedars of Lebanon is found on the flanks of Jabal Barouk.
Despite the historical feuds between Christian Maronites and Druze, the Chouf district is one of the most religiously diverse regions in Lebanon. The Druze, Maronite Catholics and Sunni Muslims are the largest religious groups. Moreover, there is a substantial Greek Catholic population, as well as a smaller Shi'a Muslim population. The current population is mostly Druze and Sunni, but the original population was predominantly Christian, with a large minority of Druze and a smaller Sunni minority. Most of the Christians moved to Beirut, and some have immigrated to outside Lebanon.
Cities and towns
- Ain Qani
- Dahr El Maghara
- Deir el Qamar
- Dibbiyeh (Fairuz village)
- Joun (Nasri Shamseddine's village)
- Mazraat el chouf
- Maasser Beiteddine
- Niha Chouf (Wadih El Safi's village)
- Wadi el sett