Located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, between Syria and Israel, Lebanon has a rich history and a profound cultural heritage, largely due to its location at the crossroads of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures. The earliest evidence of civilisation in Lebanon can be traced back to more 7,000 years ago, in the time before recorded history. Modern Lebanon is now enjoying comparatively rapid economic growth and a cosmopolitan lifestyle which differs sharply from other Middle Eastern countries. The Lebanese capital Beirut is regarded by some as the 'Paris of the Middle East'. The country was part of the French mandate in the Middle East following the end of World War I, gaining independence in 1943.Since then it has undergone a range of violent upheavals including various wars with its southern neighbour Israel, and a civil war which lasted for almost fifteen years, from 1975 to 1990. The after effects of this long conflict are still being felt in Lebanon, despite its current growth and prosperity.
Lebanon is the only country in the world which has more natives living overseas than in the actual country; millions of people of Lebanese descent have spread throughout the world, bringing their distinctive Lebanese culture with them. Born in Lebanon, Kahlil Gibran later moved to America and is one of the most celebrated poets of 20th century. He first caught the attention of the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, which became extremely popular in the 1960s. Gibran was buried in the Mar Sarkis Monastery in Lebanon, which has since become the Gibran Museum.
Lebanese cinema is starting to be recognized in art-house circles for its originality and its distinctive take on the geopolitics of the Middle East. Under the Bombs is an acclaimed Lebanese film directed by Philippe Aractingi and set just after the 2006 Lebanon War.