Beirut informationBeirut, French: Beyrouth is the capital and largest city of Lebanon with a population of more than 2 million according to the 2007 census. The city is the country’s main and largest seaport, located on a peninsula in the middle of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline. The Beirut Metropolitan Area consists of the city and its suburbs. The city was first mentioned in the ancient Egyptian tablets dating from the 14th century BC, and has been continuously inhabited ever since.
Beirut is the seat of Lebanon’s government and the most important center of economy with numerous corporate companies and banks. The city is the focal point of the region's cultural life, renowned for its media, theaters, cultural activities, and nightlife.
The city had suffered great damage during the destructive civil war, but it underwent major reconstruction after the war. The historic city center was reconstructed, entertainment events have returned to the city, once renowned for its night life. The city keeps attracting crowds of tourists once more.
Beirut was listed as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in 2009.
Beirut locationThe city is located at 33°53’13"N 35°30’47"E Beirut is located on a peninsula stretching westward into the Mediterranean Sea, about 94 km (58 mi) north of the Lebanon-Israel border. The city is surrounded by the range of Lebanon Mountains; it is situated between two hills: Al-Ashrafieh and Al-Musaytibah. The coast is heterogeneous; there are sandy and pebbly beaches, rocks and cliffs alternately following one another.The city area occupies 20 sq km (7.7 sq mi), and the city's metropolitan area occupies 200 sq km (77.2 sq mi).
Beirut has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, dry summers, pleasant autumns and springs and cool, rainy winters. August is the hottest month, with a monthly average high temperature of 29 °C (84 °F); January and February are the coldest months with a monthly average low temperature of 10 °C (50 °F). During summer the prevailing winds blow from the Mediterranean Sea in the afternoons, refreshing the air or from the inland to the sea at night. The average annual rainfall is 860 millimeters (34.1 inches), almost the whole amount is falling in winter, autumn and spring. The rain falling in autumn and spring is limited to a smaller number of days; it is falling in heavy showers. In winter the rain is more evenly spread over a larger number of days. Summer receives very little rainfall. Snow in Beirut is rare and usually occurs without accumulation. Hail can frequently occur in winter.
Beirut historyThe site of the present day Beirut was inhabited already in the prehistoric times in Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Flint tools from these periods have been found on the site. Beirut’s history goes back more than 5000 years ago. Archaeological excavations in the central area of the city have discovered layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains. The first historical reference to Beirut dates from the 14th century BC, when it was mentioned in the tablets of the "Amarna letters". Ammunira of Biruta (Beirut) sent three letters to the pharaoh of Egypt. In the antiquity the name was changed to Berytus. Under the Romans, the city developed under the dynasty of Herod the Great and was proclaimed Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus, in 14th c BC. Beirut's school of law was widely known at the time. Beirut passed to Arabs in 635.
Beirut was controlled by local Druze emirs throughout the Ottoman period. In 17th c the city was fortified for defense against the Ottoman Turks, but they re-established their rule in 1763. As in the second part of 19th c the European interests in Lebanese silk and other products grew, Beirut developed close commercial and political ties with the European imperialistic powers, especially with France. The city grew into a major Lebanese port and commercial center. After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the French and British troops moved in, and on 25th of April1920 the French were given power over Lebanon by the League of Nations. During World War II, Beirut served as an important allies’ military port.
After Lebanon had achieved independence in 1943, Beirut became its capital city. The town became a major tourist destination and a banking haven especially for the Persian Gulf oil companies. This era of relative prosperity ended in 1975 when the Lebanese Civil War broke out throughout the country. During most of the war, Beirut was divided between a Muslim western and the Christian eastern quarters. The downtown area, previously the center of the city's commercial and cultural activities, became a no man's land known as the "Green Line." Many inhabitants fled to other countries. About 60,000 people died in the first two years of the war (1975–1976), while the greater part of the city was devastated.
Since the end of the war in 1990, Beirut has been reconstructed and the city regained its status of a tourist, cultural and intellectual centre as well as a commercial, fashion, and media centre of the Middle East.
Beirut tourist attractionsThe National Museum of Beirut is the principal museum of archeology in Lebanon. It displays more than 1,300 artifacts, ranging from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period.
The American University of Beirut (AUB) archaeological museum is the third oldest museum in the Middle East, exhibiting a wide range of artifacts from Lebanon and neighboring countries. The Sursock Museum was built by the Sursock family at the end of the 19th century. Originally it was a private villa donated to the Lebanese state that has been transformed into Beirut's most popular art museum. The permanent exhibition of Japanese engravings and numerous works of Islamic art as well as temporary exhibitions are open to the public throughout the year.
Planet Discovery is a children’s science museum with interactive experiments, exhibitions, performances and various interesting workshops.
The Saint Joseph University opened the Museum of Lebanese Prehistory in 2000, the first prehistory museum in the Arabic Middle East displaying bones, stone tools and Neolithic pottery collected by Jesuits.
There are hundreds of art galleries in Beirut and its suburbs. Lebanese people are very interested in art and art production. Thousands of artists are involved in music, architecture, design, theater, film, photography and other forms of art. A great number of students graduate Fine Arts at various universities and art institutions every year.
Beirut is a popular tourist destination for tourists coming from the Arab world and western countries. The city has regained its former reputation of the Gateway to the East. Inside and outside of the city there are so many places interesting for sightseeing, shopping, tasting delicious cuisine or looking for exceptional nightlife that will tempt tourists to spend more time in this special city than they intend to. They will be attracted by an outstanding architecture of arabesque Ottoman buildings displaying their distinctive style in the surroundings of modern buildings.