Lebanon, country located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea; it consists of a narrow strip of territory and is one of the world’s smaller sovereign states. The capital is Beirut.
Though Lebanon, particularly its coastal region, was the site of some of the oldest human settlements in the world, it was not until 1920 that the contemporary state came into being. In that year France, which administered Lebanon as a League of Nations mandate, established the state of Greater Lebanon. Lebanon then became a republic in 1926 and achieved independence in 1943.
Lebanon shares many of the cultural characteristics of the Arab world, yet it has attributes that differentiate it from many of its Arab neighbors. Its rugged, mountainous terrain has served throughout history as an asylum for diverse religious and ethnic groups and for political dissidents. Lebanon is one of the most densely populated countries in the Mediterranean area and has a high rate of literacy. Notwithstanding its meagre natural resources, Lebanon long managed to serve as a busy commercial and cultural centre for the Middle East.