Lebanon, officially the Republic of Lebanon,
is a country in Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean
Sea. It is bordered by Syria
to the north and east, and Israel
to the south. Lebanon's
location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean
Basin and the Arabian hinterland
has dictated its rich history, and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon
dates back more than 7,000 years—predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Phoenicians,
a maritime culture that flourished for nearly 2,500 years (3000–539 BC).
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the five
provinces that comprise modern Lebanon
were mandated to France.
The French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon,
which was mostly populated by Maronite Catholics and Druze, to include more
gained independence in 1943, and established a unique political system, known
as confessionalism, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country
experienced a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture,
and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity, Lebanon was known in its heyday as the "Switzerland of
the East". It attracted large numbers of tourists, such that the capital Beirut was referred to as "Paris
of the Middle East." At the end of the
war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national