The Levant (pronounced /ləˈvænt/) (Arabic: , Bilad ash-Shām, also known as المشرق (Mashriq)) describes, traditionally, the Eastern Mediterranean at large, but can be used as a geographical term that denotes a large area in Western Asia formed by the lands bordering the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, roughly bounded on the north by the Taurus Mountains, on the south by the Arabian Desert, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, while on the east it extends towards the Zagros Mountains. The Levant includes the countries of Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Syria, Jordan, parts of Iraq, and occasionally Cyprus and the Sinai (part of Egypt). The UCL Institute of Archeology describes the Levant as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa".
Levant was originally applied to the "Mediterranean lands east of Italy", from the Middle French word levant meaning "the Orient". Historically, the "trade on the Levant" between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire was of great economic importance. An imprecise term, Levant refers to an area of cultural habitation rather than to a specific geographic region, and its meaning shifts according to historical and cultural reference and preference.