Lebanon (pronounced /ˈlɛbənɒn/ ( listen) or /ˈlɛbənən/; Arabic: لُبْنَان Lubnān; French: Liban), officially the Republic of Lebanon[note 1] (Arabic: اَلْجُمْهُورِيَّة اَللُّبْنَانِيَّة al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah; French: République libanaise), 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, sometimes violent history, and shaped its unique cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.
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. Lebanon established a unique political system in 1942, known as confessionalism, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities. It was created when the French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon, which was mostly populated by Maronite Catholics and Druze, to include more Muslim elements. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country enjoyed a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, and banking. Due to 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 infrastructure.
Until July 2006, Lebanon enjoyed considerable stability, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, and increasing...