Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus lies to its west across the Mediterranean Sea; its location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has contributed to its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious diversity. Lebanon is home to roughly six million people and covers an area of 10,452 square kilometres, making it one of the smallest countries in the world. The official language of the state is Arabic, while French is also formally recognized; the Lebanese dialect of Arabic is used alongside Modern Standard Arabic throughout the country.
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back over 7000 years, predating recorded history. Modern-day Lebanon was home to the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for almost 3000 years. In 64 BCE, the Roman Empire conquered the region, and it eventually became among the empire's leading centers of Christianity. The Mount Lebanon range saw the emergence of a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church.