There are more than 500,000 Druze. About half of them live in the Hauran districts of Syria. Most of the rest live in Lebanon and about 40,000 live in Israel. Some have emigrated to the United States and Canada.
The Druze practice a religion related to Islam and Christianity but more based on philosophy. Al-Hakim, a ruler of Egypt during the 11th century sponsored the religion which was created by Hamza bin Ali. The name Druze probably comes from Darazi, a preacher who was expelled from the Druze movement, because he preached that Al-Hakim was literally God.
The Druze in Lebanon had a major political influence and were the rulers of Lebanon before the 1860s. After the 1860s, they shared the ruling of Mount Lebanon with the Maronites and were later considered the 4th major religious sect after independence. They played a key role in fighting against the Lebanese Christian right during the early 1980s. The Druze ended their fighting against the Lebanese Christian right in late 1990. In 1990 and 1991, they gained representation in Lebanon's government in accordance with a 1989 peace agreement.