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 west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's 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 and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km², it is one of the smallest recognized sovereign states in the Asian continent. As the country's official language is Arabic, spoken Lebanese Arabic is used alongside Modern Standard Arabic in daily life.
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history. Lebanon was home to the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for almost three thousand years. In 64 BC, the Roman Empire conquered the region, and eventually became one of its leading centers of Christianity. The Mount Lebanon range saw the emergence of a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region, the Maronites held onto their religion and identity.