A small slice of land wedged on the edge of Asia, Lebanon sits precariously on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. To the west lies Europe, the seat of Christianity and Western culture; to the east lies the Arab world, the heart of Islam. An Arab nation with a government led by Christians since the late 1940s, Lebanon's place on the world map has allowed it to bridge the two worlds, but often at a stiff price. After years of civil war that began in 1976, Lebanon had started to rebuild. Very briefly, the country enjoyed a golden moment of peace, but tensions kept simmering. In 2006, eight Israeli soldiers were killed by Hezbollah, Lebanon's Shiite militia, and in 2007, several political leaders were assassinated during this country's fledgling attempts to achieve stability in a region dominated by turmoil.