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الجمهوريّة اللبنانيّة
Al Jumhuriyah Al Lubnaniyah
Flag of Lebanon Coat of arms of Lebanon
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Koullouna Lil Watan, Lil Oula wal'Allam
Anthem: Kulluna lil-watan lil 'ula lil-'alam
Location of Lebanon
Capital Beirut
33°54′ N 35°32′ E
Largest city Beirut
Official language(s) Arabic 1
Government
President
Prime Minister
Republic
Emile Lahoud
Fouad Siniora
Constitution
Independence

- Declared
- Recognised
May 23, 1926
From the French Mandate of Lebanon
November 26, 1941
November 22, 1943
Area
• Total

• Water (%)

10,452 km² ( 161st)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

1.6%%
Population
• 2005 est.
• 1932 census

• Density

3,826,018 2 ( 123rd)
861,399 3

358/km² ( 16th)
{{{population_densitymi²}}}/mi²
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
,638 million ( 104th)
,205 ( 96th)
HDI ( 2003) 0.759 ( 81st) – medium
Currency Lebanese pound ( LL) ( LBP)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
UTC+2 ( UTC)
UTC+3 ( UTC)
Internet TLD .lb
Calling code +961
1 Official documents are also often written in French.
Spoken languages in Lebanon includes Arabic Lebanese dialect, French, English, Armenian.
2 The Lebanese diaspora represents 10 to 14 million Lebanese around the world.
3 The government has deliberately avoided conducting an update of the 1932 census fearing the change that might happen in the foundations of political representation.
The Republic of Lebanon, or Lebanon (لبنان), is a small, largely mountainous country in the Middle East, located at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south, with a narrow coastline along its western edge. The flag of Lebanon features the Lebanon Cedar in green against a white backdrop, with two quarter-height horizontal red stripes on the top and bottom.The name Lebanon (also "Loubnan" or "Lebnan") is derived from the Aramaic word laban, meaning "white", a reference to snow-capped Mount Lebanon.

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Contents

History
Politics
Administrative divisions
Geography
Economy
Demographics
Culture
Tourism
Foreign relations



History - Contents

Lebanon is one of the main regions of the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished for more than 2,000 years, roughly from 2700 to 500 BC. Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coastal plains of what are now Lebanon and Syria. Phoenician civilization was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread right across the Mediterranean during the first millennium BC. Though ancient boundaries of such city-centered cultures fluctuated, the city of Tyre seems to have been the southernmost. Sarepta, between Sidon and Tyre, is the most thoroughly excavated city of the Phoenician homeland. Although the people of the region called themselves the Canaani or Kenaani, the name Phoenicia became common thanks to the Greeks who called them the Phoiniki - Φοινίκη (Phoiníkē; see also List of traditional Greek place names); the Greek word for Phoenician was synonymous with the colour purple/red or crimson, φοῖνιξ (phoinix), through its close association with the famous dye Tyrian purple (cf also Phoenix). The dye was used in ancient textile trade, and highly desired. The Phoenicians became known as the 'Purple People'.The Phoenicians, most likely a Semitic people, spoke the Phoenician language, later called Punic since the Roman word for purple was Puniceus. In addition to their many inscriptions, the Phoenicians, contrary to some reports, wrote many books that have not survived. Evangelical Preparation by Eusebius of Caesarea quotes extensively from Philo of Byblos and Sanchuniathon. Furthermore, the Phoenician Punic colonies of North Africa continued to be a source of knowledge about the Phoenicians. Saint Augustine knew at least a smattering of Punic and occasionally uses it to explain cognate words found in Hebrew. The name of his mother, Saint Monica, is said to be of Punic origin as well. The region was a territory of the Roman Empire in the province of Syria and during the Middle Ages was important in the Crusades. It was then taken by the Ottoman Empire.Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the League of Nations mandated the five provinces that make up present-day Lebanon to France.Modern Lebanon's constitution, drawn up in 1926, specified a balance of political power among the major religious groups.The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946. As is common with artificial states, Lebanon's history from independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil (including a leadership crisis in 1958 marked by the intervention of US Marines) interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.

Civil War (1975-1990)
Until the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was noted for its wide boulevards, French-style architecture, and modernity, and was called "the Paris of the Middle East." Lebanon as a whole was known as the Switzerland of the Middle East (Swisra Ash Shark), enjoying a similar conflict-free status as Costa Rica in Central America and (until recently) Uruguay in South America.

Beginning of the war

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, Lebanon became home to more than 110,000 Palestinian refugees who had fled from Israel. More Palestinian refugees arrived after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and Black September. By 1975 they numbered more than 300,000 with Yassir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in charge of their political and military activities. During the early 1970s difficulties arose over the increase of Palestinian refugees in the south. Initially, the fighting began between these Palestinians (referred to as "anti-Lebanese militias" by some) and the indigenous Lebanese "leftists" (the communists and socialist parties.) As the fighting intensified the sides involved became more distinct. On one side were a number of mostly Christian Maronite militias, the most important of which was linked to the Phalangist Party; its commander was Bachir Gemayel. The other side comprised a coalition of Palestinians refugees, Sunni Muslim, and Druze forces. The civil war left the nation with no effective central government.

Syrian intervention and occupation

Map of Lebanon
In June, 1976 Syria sent 40,000 troops into Lebanon to prevent the Maronite militias from being overrun by Palestinian forces. The fact that Baathist Syrians were fighting against Palestinians was ironic. Together the Syrians and Maronites pushed the Palestinians out of Beirut and into southern Lebanon. Over the next few years, shifting political climates resulted in Syria being allied with the Palestinians and the Maronites allied with Israel. Syrian forces remained in Lebanon, effectively dominating its government, into the first years of the 21st century.

First Israeli invasion and occupation

Cross-border attacks by Palestinian groups in southern Lebanon against civilians in Israeli territory led to an invasion by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on March 15, 1978 in what was titled the Litani River Operation. A few days later, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions 425 and 426, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces, and establishing an international peace-keeping force in southern Lebanon, the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL). Three months later, on June 13, 1978, Israel completed the withdrawal of its troops, and turned over control of southern Lebanon to the Christian SLA, a militia allied with Israel.

Second Israeli invasion and occupation

The PLO's armed forces continued to use Lebanon as a base to attack Israel with rockets and artillery, and on June 6, 1982 Israel again invaded Lebanon with the objective of evicting the PLO. Israeli forces occupied areas from the southern Lebanese border with Israel northward into areas of Beirut. During this invasion the Phalangist militia, under the command of Elie Hobeika, moved into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, with the knowledge of Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, and committed the first Sabra and Shatila massacre. Israel's plans for Lebanon suffered a severe setback on September 14, 1982, with the assassination of the Phalangist leader and President-elect Bachir Gemayel, (who had rallied all of the Lebanese and most of the political parties around him and a unified Lebanon,) who was regarded as secretly sympathetic to Israel. (To date, there is no formal declaration of war between Lebanon and Israel, despite the lack of communication between the two nations).

International mediation

A multinational force landed in Beirut on August 20, 1982 to oversee the PLO withdrawal from Lebanon, and US mediation resulted in the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut.This period saw the rise of radicalism among the country's factions, and a number of landmark terrorist attacks against American forces, including the destruction of the US Embassy by a truck bomb and an even deadlier attack on the US Marines barracks. Concurrently, in 1982 Hezbollah was created by former members of Amal and other religious clerics. 1988 and 1989 saw unprecedented chaos. The Parliament failed to elect a successor to President Amine Gemayel (who had replaced his slain brother Bachir in 1982), whose term expired on 23 September. Fifteen minutes before his term expired, Gemayel appointed an interim administration headed by the army commander, General Michel Aoun. His predecessor, Selim al-Hoss, refused to accept his dismissal in Aoun's favour. Lebanon was thus left with no President, and two rival governments that feuded for power, and more than 40 private militias.

End of the war

The 1989 Arab League-sponsored Taif Agreement marked the beginning of the end of the war. It is estimated that more than 100,000 were killed, and 100,000 maimed during the 15-year war. On May 22, 2000, Israel unilaterally completed its withdrawal from the south of Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 of 1978. On September 2 2004, the United Nations Security Council, recalling previous resolutions, especially 425 (1978), 520 (1982) and 1553 (July 2004), approved Resolution 1559, sponsored by the US and France, demanding that Syria, though not mentioned by name, should withdraw its troops from Lebanon. "All foreign forces should withdraw from Lebanon" to allow free elections.

Reconstruction

The country is recovering from the effects of the war, with foreign investment and tourism on the rise. Syrian forces occupied large areas of the country until April 2005 (see Cedar Revolution below), and Iran exercises heavy influence over Hezbollah forces in the Beqaa Valley and Southern Lebanon. Nevertheless, areas of Lebanon and Beirut in particular are moving toward a sense of normality and stability. Lebanese civil society enjoys significantly more freedoms than elsewhere in the Arab world. After twelve years, the reconstruction of downtown Beirut is largely complete. Lebanon's telcommunication rehabilitation is well underway, and in 2004 and 2005 foreign investment in the country topped billion. Solidere has also announced many projects that will be complete in 2007.

Qana shelling
On April 18, 1996, in the midst of Operation Grapes of Wrath and following Hezbollah rocket attacks, Israeli forces shelled a UNIFIL compound in Qana where 800 Lebanese civilians had taken refuge, resulting in more than 100 Lebanese dead and approximately 300 wounded, including four UNIFIL soldiers. Israel declared the shelling a tragic accident, while a UN inquiry shortly thereafter challenged those claims. An informal cease-fire understanding was reached eight days later.

Cedar Revolution (Intifada of Independence)
Note: Although international media prefer the term "Cedar Revolution", the Lebanese people refer to these events as the " Intifada (uprising) of Independence"

Hariri assassination

Rafik Hariri (1944-2005)
Rafik Hariri (1944-2005)
On February 14, 2005, after 10 years of relative political stability, Lebanon was shaken by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a car-bomb explosion. It is widely believed that Syria was responsible for the attack, due to its extensive military and intelligence presence in Lebanon, and to the public rift between Hariri and Damascus over the Syrian-backed constitutional amendment extending pro-Syrian President Lahoud's term in office. Syria, however, denies any involvement. Some sources also suggest a cover up of criminal evidence by Lebanese authorities. Up to this point, no person or party has been directly accused of the murder, though investigations continue.

Demonstrations

The assassination resulted in huge anti-Syrian protests by Lebanese citizens in Beirut demanding the resignation of the pro-Syrian government. Following the examples of the Rose Revolution and Orange Revolution in 2004, the popular action was dubbed the " Cedar Revolution" by the US State Department, a name which quickly caught on among the international media. On February 28, 2005, as over 70,000 people demonstrated in Martyrs' Square, Prime Minister Omar Karami and his Cabinet resigned. They remained in office temporarily in a caretaker role prior to the appointment of replacements, as outlined by the constitution.In response, Hezbollah organized a large counter-demonstration, staged on March 8 in Beirut, supporting Syria and accusing Israel and the United States of meddling in internal Lebanese affairs. Hezbollah is a secondary target of Resolution 1559, which demands all Lebanese militias be disarmed; it has since been trying to rally masses to protest against foreign intervention. This demonstration was much larger than earlier anti-Syrian protests. Journalists estimated the crowds to number in the hundreds of thousands, while an unnamed official and the television station run by the pro-Syrian Amal Party gave an estimate of 1.5 million.
On March 14, one month after Hariri's assassination, throngs of people rallied in Martyrs' Square in the largest gathering ever in Lebanon. Wire services estimated the crowds at 800,000, while police officials put the number close to 1 million. Protestors of all sects (even including a number of Shiites) marched demanding the truth about Hariri's murder and independence from Syrian occupation. The march reiterated their will for a sovereign, democratic, and unified country, free of Syria's hegemony.In the weeks following the demonstrations, bombs were detonated in Christian areas near Beirut. Although the damage was mostly material, these acts demonstrate the danger of Lebanon relapsing into sectarian strife.

Parliamentary elections

After weeks of unsuccessful negotiations to form a new government, Prime Minister Omar Karami resigned the post for the third time in his political career on 13 April 2005. Two days later, Najib Mikati, a US-educated millionaire businessman and former Minister of Transportation and Public Works, was appointed Prime Minister-designate. A moderate pro-Syrian, Mikati secured the post through the support of the Opposition, which had previously boycotted such negotiations.During the first parliamentary elections held after Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2005, the anti-Syrian coalition of Sunni Muslim, Druze and Christian parties led by Saad Hariri, son of assassinated ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, won a majority of seats in the new Parliament.The combinations were interesting in that in some areas the anti-Syrian coalition allied with Hezbollah and others with Amal. They did not win the two-thirds majority required to force the resignation of Syrian-appointed President Lahoud, due to the unexpectedly strong showing of retired army general Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement party in Mount Lebanon. Aoun is the dominant Christian figure in the new parliament. Known previously for his strong anti-Syrian sentiment, Aoun aligned with politicians who were friendly to the Syrians in the past decade: Soleiman Franjieh Jr and Michel Murr. Their alliance dominated the north and the Metn District of Mount Lebanon. Saad Hariri and Walid Joumblat joined forces with the two staunchly pro-Syrian Shiite movements, Hezbollah and Amal, to secure major wins in the South, Bekaa, and Baabda-Aley district of Mount Lebanon. This alliance proved temporary and the last vestiges of civility between Joumblatt and the shiite coalition came crashing down in December 2005. On the 6th of Febraury 2006 Hezbollah signed a memorandum of understanding with General Michel Aoun and is expected to support Aoun in the Baabda-Aley parliamentary by-election scheduled to be held in March 2006. Hezbollah is also expected to support Aoun's bid for the presidency of Lebanon.

New government

After the elections, Hariri's Future Movement party, now the country's dominant political force, nominated Fouad Siniora, a former Finance Minister, to be Prime Minister. His newly formed representative government has obtained the vote of confidence from the parliament despite the lack of representation of Gen. Aoun.On July 18, Lebanon's newly elected parliament, dominated by an anti-Syrian coalition, approved a motion to pardon Samir Geagea, who had spent most of the past 11 years in solitary confinement in an underground cell with no access to news. The motion was endorsed by pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud the next day. [1]

Criminal investigation

On September 1, 2005, four current and former officials of Lebanon -- the former head of General Security Maj Gen Jamil Sayyad, the former chief of police Maj Gen Ali Hajj, the former military intelligence chief Brig Gen Raymond Azar, and the commander of the Republican Guard Brig Gen Mustafa Hamdan -- were charged in connection with Hariri's assassination. [2]On October 21, Detlev Mehlis, lead investigator in the UN Hariri Probe released the report of the investigation. The report said that "many leads point to the direct involvement of Syrian Officials". [3] In the press conference Mr. Mehlis insisted that some of the names in the report "were given by a witness whose reliability required further investigation", and he would have removed more names under the presumption of innocence, had he known that the report would become public. [4] [5]

Withdrawal of Syrian troops
Maj Gen Jamil Sayyed, the top Syrian ally in the Lebanese security forces, resigned on April 25, 2005. The following day the last 250 Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon.During the departure ceremonies, Syria's Chief of Staff Gen Ali Habib said that Syria's president had decided to recall his troops after the Lebanese army had been "rebuilt on sound national foundations and became capable of protecting the state."UN forces led by Senegalese Brig Gen Mouhamadou Kandji were sent to Lebanon to verify the military withdrawal which was mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1559.


Politics - Contents

Politics - Politics portal
Lebanon

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Lebanon
  • Constitution
  • President
    • Emile Lahoud
  • Prime Minister
    • Fouad Siniora
    • Present government
  • Parliament
    • Speaker
  • Political parties
  • Elections
  • Foreign relations
Lebanon is a republic in which the three highest offices are reserved for members of specific religious groups:
  • the President must be a Maronite Catholic Christian.
  • the Prime Minister must be a Sunni Muslim, and
  • the Speaker of the Parliament must be a Shi'a Muslim.
This arrangement is part of the " National Pact" (al Mithaq al Watani), an unwritten agreement which was established in 1943 during meetings between Lebanon's first president (a Maronite) and its first prime minister (a Sunni), although it was not formalized in the Constitution until 1990, following the Taif Agreement. The pact included a promise by the Christians not to seek French protection and to accept Lebanon's "Arab face", and a Muslim promise to recognize independence and legitimacy of the Lebanese state in its 1920 boundaries and to renounce aspirations for union with Syria. This pact was thought at the time to be an interim compromise, necessary until Lebanon formed its own sense of a national identity. Its continued existence and the fallout from subsequent civil wars continue to dominate politics in Lebanon.The pact also stipulated that seats in the Parliament would be allocated by religion and region, in a ratio of 6 Christians to 5 Muslims, a ratio based on the 1932 census, which was taken at a time when Christians still had a slight majority. The Taif Agreement adjusted the ratio to grant equal representation to followers of the two religions, but some argue that they still do not reflect current demographics: owing to a higher Muslim birthrate and a higher rate of emigration among Christians, Muslims are now believed to have a slight majority, 59 percent of the population counting the Druze. However a majority of Lebanese living abroad are Christians.The Constitution grants the people the right to change their government. However, from the mid-1970s until the parliamentary elections in 1992, civil war precluded the exercise of political rights. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every four years. The last parliament election was in 2000; the election due to be held in 2004 was postponed for one year.The parliament composition is based on more ethnic and religious identities rather than ideological features. The distribution of parliament seats has been modified recently.
Parliament of Lebanon Seat Allocation
Confession Before Taif After Taif
Maronite 30 34
Greek Orthodox 11 14
Greek Catholic 6 8
Armenian Orthodox 4 5
Armenian Catholic 1 1
Protestant 1 1
Other Christians 1 1
Total Christians 54 64
Sunni 20 27
Shi'a 19 27
Druze 6 8
Alawite 0 2
Total Muslims 45 64
TOTAL 99 128
The Parliament elects the President of the republic to a six-year term. Consecutive terms for the president are forbidden. This constitutional rule has been bypassed by ad-hoc amendment twice in recent history, however, at the urging of the Syrian government. Elias Hrawi's term, which was due to end in 1995, was extended for three years. This procedure was repeated in 2004 to allow Emile Lahoud to remain in office until 2007. Pro-democracy campaigners denounced the moves.The last presidential election was in 1998. The President appoints the Prime Minister on the nomination of the Parliament. Lebanon has numerous political parties, but their role is less important than in most parliamentary systems. Most represent, in practice if not in theory, sectarian interests; many are little more than ad-hoc lists of candidates endorsed by a well-known national or local figure. Electoral tickets are often formed on a constituency-by-constituency basis by negotiation among local leaders of clans, religious groups, and political parties; these loose coalitions generally exist only for the election and rarely form cohesive blocs in the Parliament subsequently.Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels - courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Lebanese law does not provide for Civil marriage (although it recognizes such marriages contracted abroad); efforts by former President Elias Hrawi to legalize civil marriage in the late 1990s foundered on objections mostly from Muslim clerics.Lebanon has been under Syrian domination since 1990. More information is available here. Many Lebanese are unhappy with what they see as the undue influence exerted by the Syrian government over their affairs. The pro-Syrian administration of Emile Lahoud has curbed freedom of speech, and has attempted (successfully, until recently) to ban demonstrations. Recently, after the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, international pressure on Syria was dramatically increased, demanding a complete and immediate withdrawal of its forces, including intelligence personnel, from Lebanon.
Administrative division.
Administrative division.
On Monday February 28, 2005, the Syrian-backed government of Prime Minister Omar Karami announced its resignation, staying on in a caretaker role. However, Karami was reappointed and asked to head a national unity government on Wednesday March 9, 2005, one day after a massive demonstration expressing support for Syria. Negotiations over the formation of the national unity government have stalled, however, over the demands of some politicians for the immediate withdrawal of Syrian forces, and over the reluctance of others (such as Walid Jumblatt) to serve in a government under President Lahoud.


Administrative divisions - Contents

Lebanon is divided into six governorates (mohafazat, singular - mohafazah), which are further subdivided into 25 districts (Aqdya, singular - qadaa), also divided into several municipalities englobing a group of cities or villages.
  • Governorates of Lebanon
  • Districts of Lebanon
  • Cities and Villages in Lebanon



Geography - Contents

A Middle Eastern country, Lebanon is demarcated to the west by the Mediterranean (Coast: 225 kilometres) and to the east by the Syro-African Depression. Lebanon borders Syria for 375 kilometres to the north and to the east and Israel for 79 kilometres to the south. The border with Israel has been approved by the United Nations (see Blue Line (Lebanon)), although a small piece of land called " Shebaa Farms" located in the Golan Heights is claimed by Lebanon but occupied by Israel, who claim that it is actually Syrian land. The UN has officially declared this region not to be Lebanese territory, but Hizbulla occasionally launches attacks against Israeli positions within it.
Cedar Grove in Lebanon
Cedar Grove in Lebanon



Economy - Contents

Lebanon has a competitive and free market regime and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital movement, and bank secrecy is strictly enforced. Lebanon has recently adopted a law to combat money laundering. There are practically no restrictions on foreign investment.The 1975-1991 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Peace has enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange.Lebanon has witnessed a growth in the past couple of years. Bank assets have reached over 70 billion dollars. Even though Lebanon was down 10% in the tourism sector in 2005, more than 1.2 million tourists visited lebanon. Market capitialization is at an all time high. Capitialization reached over billion at the end of January 2006.


Demographics - Contents

The population of Lebanon is comprised of different ethnic groups and religions: Muslims ( Shi'ites and Sunnis), Christians ( Maronite Catholics, Melkite Greek Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Assyrians, Copts) and others (including the Druze and Alawite sects). No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (religious) balance. It is estimated that a slight majority of the resident population is Muslim; the rest Christian. There is a small minority of Jews, mostly living in the eastern region of Beirut. Also, a small community (less than 1%) of Kurds (also known as Mhallamis or Mardins) live in Lebanon. There are approximately 15 million people of Lebanese descent, mainly Christians and Druze, spread all over the world.While 360,000 Palestinian refugees have registered in Lebanon with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) since 1948, estimates of those remaining range between 160,000 and 225,000.The urban population, concentrated mainly in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, is noted for its commercial enterprise. A century and a half of migration and return have produced Lebanese commercial networks around the globe from North and South America to Europe, the Gulf, and Africa. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor compared with many other Middle Eastern countries.


Culture - Contents

Baalbek Ruins
Baalbek Ruins
Lebanon has been a major crossroads of civilizations for millennia, so it is perhaps unsurprising that this small country would possess an extraordinarily rich and vibrant culture. Lebanon's wide array of ethnic and religious groups contributes to the country's rich cuisine, musical and literary traditions, and festivals. Beirut in particular has a very vibrant arts scene, with numerous performances, exhibits, fashion shows, and concerts held throughout the year in its galleries, museums, theaters, and public spaces. Lebanese society is modern, educated, and perhaps comparable to European societies of the Mediterranean. Lebanon and in particular Beirut, has become the cultural center of the Arab world. Lebanon is a member state of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. This is why most Lebanese are bilingual, speaking Arabic and French; however, English has become popular, especially among university students. The country is not only where Christianity intermingles with Islam, but Lebanon is also the Arab gateway to Europe and the European bridge to the Arab world.Lebanon also hosts several prestigious universities, including the American University of Beirut, the University of Balamand, the public Lebanese University, and the Université Saint-Joseph.Several international festivals are held in Lebanon, featuring world-renowned artists and drawing crowds from Lebanon and abroad. Among the most famous are the summer festivals at Baalbeck, Beiteddine, and Byblos, where the elite and eclectic line-ups perform against the backdrop of some of Lebanon's most famous and spectacular historical sites.
  • Lebanon football
  • Music of Lebanon



Tourism - Contents

Lebanon is famous for its tourism. The country has many attractions and the government made some serious attempts throughout the years to maintain and preservce tourist sites. The main attractions are located in Tripoli, Byblos, Baalbek, Sidon, Tyre, Anjar, Beiteddine, and the capital Beirut. There are other minor sites.

Beirut
Beirut City Hall
Beirut City Hall
The Raouché Rock
The Raouché Rock
Beirut's Downtown
Beirut's Downtown
With a population cap of over one million, the capital stands as a main attraction not only due to its geographical location and economic status, but also due to the downtown area which was recently rebuilt and reconstructed to its former architecture with a modern look. After surviving the years of war, the city now breathes with life due to the different cultural perspectives that enrich it.The city has witnessed a colossal restoration effort led by former Prime Minister the late Rafik Hariri. The downtown area is vibrant every single day of the week and various activities and fairs take place throughout Beirut. The Corniche is especially famous because of the moderate weather which adds to the beauty of the city.This makes Beirut an international venue for conferences, exhibitions, and conventions. You can always find something to do in famous locations like Hamra Street, the Downtown, and the Corniche. Here are some of main landmarks of the capital Beirut:
  • Group of five Columns
  • Roman Exedra
  • Roman Baths
  • Four Corniced Columns
  • Highly Carved Colonnade
  • Floor Mosaics
  • Medieval Walls
  • Crusader Castle
  • Grand Serail
  • Ottoman Clock Tower
  • Ottoman Military Hospital
  • Al-Omari Mosque
  • Zawiyat Ibn al-'Arraq
  • Amir 'Assaf Mosque
  • Amir munzer Mosque
  • Majidjiyyeh Mosque
  • The Greek-Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George
  • The Greek-Catholic cathedral of Saint Elias
  • The Saint Louis Church of the Capucins
  • The Evangelical Church
  • The Maronite Cathedral of Saint George
  • National Museum
  • Sursock Museum
  • The Archeological Museum of the American university of Beirut (AUB)
  • Raouché


Baalbeck Ruins
The Temple of Bacchus
The Temple of Bacchus
Known as Heliopolis in the ancient Roman Empire, the city of Baalbek lies 86 kilometers northeast of Beirut. It is considered an important Tourist center and contains some of the oldest human-made stones in existence. The term Baal is Phoenician meaning god or lord. Bek might refer to the surrounding Bekaa valley, which is an extremely fertile landscape providing a fundamental source of income to many people in the region.The greatest of the three temples of Baalbeck is The Temple of Jupiter, synonymous to Zeus, the king of Gods. Huge structures and columns with delicate sculptures are the main attractions.Many historians and scientists tried to explain that the only way possible for ancient people to be able to build such wonders is by laboriously dragging and piling the stones; akin to the way the Egyptians were able to construct the pyramids. They also state that there is no known method today of constructing such wonders. In addition, there are virtually no records in the Roman scripts that include even one reference to the ruins of Baalbeck.

The Jeita Grotto
The Jeita Grotto
The Jeita Grotto
Stalactites inside the cave
Stalactites inside the cave
The Jeita Grotto is the biggest natural cave in the entire middle east region. This makes it a unique place to visit and it's easily considered a rare tourist attraction in the country. The Grotto lies 18 km along the highway North of Beirut, in the valley of the Dog River within the Keserwan area.The Jeita Grotto is divided into two sections: An upper cave and a lower cave. The lower was discovered in 1836 and opened to the public in 1958; an underground river runs through the cave where you can take a boat trip to a distance of approximately 500 m of the 6200 m explored area.The upper cave on the other hand was discovered in 1958 and officialy opened to the public in 1969. You can walk on foot over the crystallized grounds for a distance of approximately 750 m of the 2200 m explored. The temperature remains stable in the Grotto the whole year (16 ºC in the lower cave; 22 ºC in the upper cave) allowing the tourists to experience both the warm climate in winter and the cool climate in summer.The visiting times are as follows:
  • In summer: Every day from 09:00 till 18:00. (Saturdays and Sundays till 19:00)
  • In winter: Every day from 09:00 till 17:00.
  • Mondays are off except in July and August, unless it's a national holiday.
  • Annual vacation is 4 weeks during January and February.
There's a ropeway that ascends through the Valley of Dog River that carries visitors to the upper cave. Alternatively, they can use the train shuttle that continuously runs back and forth between the upper and lower caves.


Foreign relations - Contents

The foreign policy of Lebanon reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Lebanon's foreign policy has been heavily influenced by Syria, which maintained forces throughout parts of Lebanon prior to the Cedar Revolution.Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialled the accord in January 2002. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is in the process of accession to the World Trade Organization. Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of its Arab neighbors (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, and Iraq). Lebanon also is a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference and maintains a close relationship with Iran.Lebanon does not have diplomatic or trade relations with Israel. In May 1983 Israel and the Christian government of Lebanon signed a de facto peace treaty that would have established bilateral ties but this treaty has been abrogated. Lebanon's official stance on relations with Israel is that relations can only happen after a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian settlement and a return of the Golan Heights to Syria.
Lebanon and Israel have one remaining boundary dispute, over a district in southern Lebanon, on the north side of the Golan Heights, called Shebaa Farms. Lebanon claims that the Shebaa farms are occupied Lebanese territory, while Israel claims they are occupied Syrian territory (and thus should be dealt with in an Israel-Syrian treaty). Lebanon would also like Israel to take back a quarter million Palestinian refugees, who have been in Lebanon for decades.
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