Beirut ) is the capital and largest city of Lebanon with a population ranging from some 1 million to more than 2 million as of 2007. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's coastline with the Mediterranean, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan Area, which consists of the city and its suburbs. The first mention of this metropolis is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters, dating to the 15th century BC, and the city has been continuously inhabited since.Beirut holds Lebanon's seat of government, and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy with its city centre, Hamra, Verdun, and Ashrafieh-based corporate firms and banks. The city is the focal point of the region's cultural life, renowned for its press, theatres, cultural activities, and nightlife. After the destructive Lebanese civil war, Beirut underwent major reconstruction, and the redesigned historic city centre, marina, pubs and nightlife districts have once again rendered it a tourist attraction.Beirut was named the top place to visit in 2009 by The New York Times. It was also listed as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in 2009.