The Levant (Arabic: المشرق /ʔal-maʃriq/) is a historical geographical term referring to a large area in the eastern Mediterranean. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the eastern Mediterranean with its islands, that is, it included all of the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica.
The term Levant entered English in the late 15th century from French. It derives from the Italian Levante, meaning “rising”, implying the rising of the sun in the east. As such, it is broadly equivalent to the Arabic term Mashriq, meaning “the land where the sun rises”.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the term levante was used for Italian maritime commerce in the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt, that is, the lands east of Venice. Eventually the term was restricted to the Muslim countries of Syria-Palestine and Egypt.
In 1581, England set up the Levant Company to monopolize commerce with the Ottoman Empire.
The name Levant States was used to refer to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War I. This is probably the reason why the term Levant has come to be used synonymously with Syria-Palestine. Some scholars misunderstood the term thinking that it derives from the name of Lebanon. Today the term is typically used in conjunction with prehistoric or ancient historical references
Edited, from Wikipedia on 4, Jan 2017
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