In the Ottoman Empire, a mutasarrıf was an administrative authority of any of certain sanjaks, who were appointed directly by the Sultan. This administrative unit was sometimes independent (e.g., Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate or Cyprus) and sometimes was part of a vilayet (province), administered by a wali, and contained nahiye (communes), each administered by a kaymakam. This rank was established in 1864 against the new Law of Villayets instead of rank of mutesellim which was abolished in 1842.
"This small political unit was governed by a non-Lebanese Ottoman Christian subject and given the protection of European powers. The religious communities of the district were represented by a council that dealt directly with the governor. This system provided peace and prosperity until its abolition."