Location & Geography: Lebanon is located on the eastern coast of the
Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East. It is
bound by Syria to the north
and east, Palestine to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. The country can be divided
into four topographical regions
1. The coastal plain which is a narrow strip in the north.
2. The coastal mountain range or Lebanon
Mountains which are a series of crests and ridges.
3. The Central Plateau which consists of the Syrian Plain and part
of the Biqa valley.
4. The eastern mountain range which comprises the remainder of the
Biqa Valley and rises to form the Jabal ash Sharqi or Anti-Lebanon Mountains as
well as the Jabal ash Shaikh or Mt. Hermon, which forms the eastern border with
Population: Approximately 3.8 million
Area: 10,452 square kilometers
is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and four distinct seasons. Lebanon
has a wide variation in climatic conditions. Summers are generally hot and dry
while winters are warm and moist. Temperatures and precipitation vary depending
on altitude, while winters are cooler on the central plateau region and on the
coast. Precipitation, in general, decreases from west to east, with most
rainfall occurring in the winter months. Average annual precipitation in Beirut is 920 mm (36
inches) and average temperature ranges are from 11 to 17 degrees Celsius (52 to
63 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 23 to 32 degrees Celsius (73 to 90 degrees
Fahrenheit) in August.
Entry Requirements (Visa)
All foreigners must have a valid passport and visa to enter Lebanon.
Passports must be valid for at least six months. Visas can be obtained in
advance at Lebanese embassies and consulates around the world. Nationals of many
countries can also obtain business or tourist visas upon arrival at the Beirut Airport
and at other ports of entry on the Lebanese border. At the Beirut Airport,
visa stamps can be purchased at a window directly across from passport control.
You can pay in cash in U.S. dollars or Lebanese pounds. The price of a 15-day
visa is US$17 (LL 25,000). A single entry, three-month visa is US$35 (LL 50,000).
Contact the Lebanese embassy or consulate in your country or see the General Directorate of
General Security website for additional visa information.
Important Note: Travelers holding passports that contain visas
or entry/exit stamps for Israel
are likely to be refused entry into Lebanon.
All ordinary personal effects are exempt from customs duty.
The official Lebanese currency is the
Lebanese pound or lira (LL). Notes are available in denominations of: LL1,000;
LL5,000; LL10,000; LL20,000; LL50,000; and LL100,000. There are also LL250 and
U.S. dollars are used widely throughout the country. Restaurants, hotels, and
stores often quote their prices in U.S. dollars, and many establishments will
convert and provide U.S. dollar prices for you upon request. If you plan to use
U.S. dollars, it is advisable to bring small bills (US$1 to US$20 notes).
exchange rate is relatively stable, hovering around US$1=LL1,500. Major credit
cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Club) are accepted at most
large establishments throughout the country.
While Arabic is Lebanon's official language, English and French are widely
spoken. Most Lebanese speak at least two or three languages, and visitors will
find no problems communicating. Many establishments provide signs, menus, and
information in both Arabic and English.
Lebanese time is G.M.T. +2 hours in winter (October to March) and +3 hours in
summer (April to September), when daylight savings time is observed.
Prehistoric Times (5,000-3,500 B.C.)
A trip through Lebanon's history begins in Jbail (Byblos), where
archaeologists have discovered the earliest known settlements in Lebanon.
Today, remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive
weapons, and burial jars are evidence of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing
communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean
Sea over 7,000 years ago.
Phoenicians (3,500-334 B.C.)
first appeared in recorded history around 3,000 BC, with the settlement of the
area by the Canaanites. The Canaanites established great maritime, trade, and
religious city-states in several of Lebanon's
coastal cities: Jbail (Byblos), Sour (Tyre), Saida (Sidon), and Beirut. The Greeks
referred to these Semitic people as Phoenicians, after the Greek word for the
expensive purple-dyed textiles that the Phoenicians exported.
Greeks (333-64 B.C.)
In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered the Phoenician city-states,
and ancient Phoenicia was
absorbed into the Greek Empire (which covered Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East). Greek customs and the Greek language were
Romans (64 B.C. - 399 A.D.)
Roman rule in Lebanon
lasted over 300 years. During this period, the old Phoenician cities continued
to grow and prosper as centers of industry and commerce. The coastal cities
(Saida, Sour, Beirut) exported cedar, perfume, jewelry, wine, and fruit to Rome
and served as trading centers for goods imported from Syria, Persia, and India.
Byzantines (399-636 A.D.)
The Byzantine era in Lebanon
began with the split of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. into the eastern/Byzantine
part (with its capital at Constantinople) and the western part (with its
capital at Rome).
As the Western Roman Empire declined, the Byzantine Empire grew and commercial
and intellectual growth in Lebanon's
Arabs (660-1258 A.D.)
The increasing unrest in the Byzantine Empire opened the region to
raids and conquests by Muslim Arabs from the Arabian
Peninsula. Following the death of the Prophet Muhammed, his successors
built a large army that pushed back the Byzantine forces and undertook a series
of successful invasions throughout the region.
Mamlukes (1250-1516 A.D.)
Following the Crusades, modern-day Lebanon,
Syria, and Egypt came
under the control of the Mamlukes. The Mamlukes were originally slave
bodyguards (from the Caspian and Caucasus
regions) for the Egyptian Ayoubid sultans. However, the Mamlukes overthrew
their masters and formed the Mamluke Sultanate. Many Shiite Muslims migrated to
during this period, and there were increasing religious tensions. After a
number of rebellions near Beirut were crushed,
the Shiites moved to settle in Southern Lebanon.
Ottomans (1516-1914 A.D.)
The Mamlukes were defeated by the Turkish Ottomans in 1516, and the
Ottomans dominated the region for the four centuries preceding World War I.
Museum of Beirut
Qasr Al Bahr (Sayda)