Lebanon (/ˈlɛbənɒn/ (listen); Arabic: لبنان, romanized: Lubnān, Lebanese Arabic pronunciation: [lɪbˈneːn]), officially known as the Lebanese Republic[nb 3] (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية, romanized: al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah, Lebanese Arabic pronunciation: [elˈʒʊmhuːrɪjje lˈlɪbneːnɪjje]; French: République libanaise), is a country in Western Asia. At just 10,452 km2 (4,036 sq. mi.), it is the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history.
Despite its small size, the country has developed a well-known culture and has been highly influential in the Arab world, powered by its large diaspora. Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s, and its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East". At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. In spite of these troubles, Lebanon has the highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world outside of the oil-rich economies of the Persian Gulf. Lebanon has been a member of the United Nations since its founding in 1945 as well as of the Arab League (1945), the Non-Aligned Movement (1961), Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (1969) and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (1973).