Lebanon is a Middle Eastern country that lies on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, to the north of Israel. It also borders Syria, and its capital city is Beirut. Lebanon has been inhabited for thousands of years; in ancient times it was home to Phoenicians, and it is often mentioned in the Bible as a fertile and pleasant area. It is particularly famous for cedar trees, and has a picture of one on its flag.
In recent times, Lebanon has often seen conflict. Beirut was ravaged by internal fighting during the 1980s and although peace has been restored to the capital, much of the south of the country is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.
In 1932, in Lebanon's one and only census, the religious groups of Lebanon were about 29% Maronite Christian, 22% Sunni Muslim, 20% Shia Muslim, and much smaller numbers of other religious groups. The constitution of Lebanon mandates that Christians and Muslims be represented equally in parliament, and that the president of Lebanon must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister of Lebanon must be a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament must be a Shia Muslim.