Lebanon's historical, geographic, and political characteristics have had a significant impact on the status of women living within its borders. Though it is one of the smallest Arab countries, it is nevertheless a major regional center for culture, education, health, and finance. It contributed substantially to the preparation and formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but has since violated the agreement more than once in its history of civil strife. Lebanon maintained a precarious democracy from the time of its independence from France in 1943 until a 15-year civil war broke out in 1975. While the war ended following a 1989 peace agreement, Syria maintained a military and intelligence presence that heavily influenced domestic politics until the troops were withdrawn in 2005.