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 (culture) of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has dictated its rich history.
The earliest Archaeological 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. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, and established a unique political system, known as confessionalism (politics), a Consociationalism mechanism based on religious communities - Riad El-Solh, who became Lebanon's first prime minister, is considered the founder of the modern Republic of Lebanon and a national hero for having led (and died for) the country's independence. French troops withdrew in 1946.
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 infrastructure.
Until July 2006, Lebanon enjoyed considerable stability, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, and increasing numbers of tourists poured into the nation's resorts. Then, the month-long 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah caused significant civilian death and heavy damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure.
Due to its tightly regulated financial system, Lebanese banks have largely avoided the financial crisis of 2007-2010. In 2009, despite a Late-2000s recession, Lebanon enjoyed 9% economic growth and hosted the largest number of tourists in its history.