Lebanon ( ( listen); Arabic: لبنان Lubnān; Lebanese pronunciation: [lɪbˈnɛːn]; French: Liban), officially known as the Lebanese Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah; Lebanese pronunciation: [elˈʒʊmhuːɾɪjje l.ˈlɪbnɛːnɪjje]; French: République libanaise), is a sovereign state in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km2 (4,036 sq. mi.), it is the smallest recognized country on the entire mainland Asian continent. The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Canaanites/Phoenicians and their kingdoms, a maritime culture that flourished for over a thousand years (c. 1550–539 BC). In 64 BC, the region came under the rule of the Roman Empire, and eventually became one of the Empire's leading centers of Christianity. In the Mount Lebanon range a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church was established.
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