Area: 10,400 km² (World Rank 161)
Inhabitants: 3.97 Mio. (World Rank 125)
Beirut is the capital of Lebanon
Lebanon (IPA: /ˈlɛbənɒn/) (Arabic: لبنان Lubnān, French: Liban, officially the Republic of Lebanon or Lebanese Republic (الجمهورية اللبنانية), 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. It is in proximity to Cyprus through the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its sectarian diversity, Lebanon evolved in 1943 a unique political system, known as confessionalism, based on a community-based power-sharing mechanism. It was created when the ruling French mandatory powers expanded the borders of the former Maronite Christian autonomous Ottoman Mount Lebanon district.
The flag of Lebanon features a cedar in green against a white backdrop, bounded by two horizontal red stripes along the top and bottom. This is a reference to the famous cedars of Lebanon, renowned throughout the region in antiquity. The red refers to the blood spilled in order to gain the independence, the white refers to the purity and peace.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the country enjoyed a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by the tourism, agriculture, and banking sectors of the economy. It is considered the banking capital of the Levant and was widely known as the "Switzerland of the East" due to its financial power and diversity. Lebanon also attracted large numbers of tourists to the point that the capital Beirut became widely referred to as the "Paris of Western Asia"
Immediately following the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. By early 2006, a considerable degree of stability had been achieved throughout much of the country, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, and an increasing number of foreign tourists were pouring into Lebanon's resorts.
The 2006 war, however, caused widespread loss of life and damage to Lebanon's infrastructure from July 12, 2006 until a cessation of hostilities call, by the UN Security Council, went into effect on August 14, 2006, and the country's economy is still in the process of recovering.