A compact backlighting luminaire is provided for liquid crystal displays (LCDs). The body of the luminaire is formed of optically clear glass or acrylic resins. The body comprises a mesa extending from a base comprising a flange extending around the periphery of the mesa. The top of the mesa comprises at least two non-parallel sloped surfaces. The base of the luminaire body may form a wedge with the flange being thicker at one edge than at an opposite edge. The bottom surface and edges of the body may be coated with a reflective film. A fluorescent lamp extends around the periphery of the mesa and is supported by the flange. A cover may be provided to extend over the mesa and around the periphery of the flange to secure the lamp, to reduce illumination losses, and to provide a mounting surface for an LCD. Light from the lamp is reflected by the bottom and edge surfaces of the body and is incident on the sloped top surfaces of the mesa to provide uniform backlighting illumination for and LCD mounted atop the cover of the luminaire. The luminaire provides effective backlighting for full color flat panel displays without adding significantly to the depth dimension of the flat panel display.