Ministry of Tourism
Bank of Lebanon Street,
PO Box 11-5344
Tel: (01) 343196, Fax: (01) 343279
Beirut, Lebanon


Physical geography

Lebanon occupies a strip of land 210km long and 40 to 75km wide. Covering an area of 10,400 square kms, it lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea which forms its western border, and is bounded by Syria on the east and north and Israel on the south.

A mountain range, the Lebanon mountain, extends the length of the country parallel with the coast, and another range, the Anti-Lebanon, forms its eastern border with Syria. Between these two great ranges is the Bekaa, a high fertile valley watered by the 150-mile long Litani River creating the agricultural heart of the country.


The average annual temperature on the Coast varies between 26°C in summer and 19°C in winter. The sea waters have an average temperature of 29°C in summer and 19°C in winter. In the mountains, winter is hard, but summer is moderate with an average temperature of 20 to 22°C. In the Bekaa this is 15°C. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Since the end of the war in 1991 considerable progress has been made in the reconstruction of the infrastructure, industry and commerce. With no real raw materials to speak of services have long been its largest export. Businessmen and professionals have used its pivotal position between East and West and their own heritage of unrestrained free enterprise to make their nation the communications, commercial and banking capital of the Middle East. The government's commitment to encourage investment and development can already be seen throughout the country. <P>Beirut's port provides quick access via land routes to the markets of Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf States.</P> <P>Swift, efficient and low-cost banking services have long been one of the foundations of Lebanon' s eminence as an international centre for trade, finance and commerce, and one of the main attractions for the hundreds of foreign businesses which have in the past and are now once again establishing regional headquarters in Beirut.</P> <P>Government supervision is minimal and invoked mainly to protect the investor's interests.</P> <P>Lebanon has no currency or exchange controls of any kind, permitting a complete freedom of acquisition, exchange, transfer, sale, import and export of the currency of any country without restriction or disclosure to any private or governmental agency. Banking practices are continually being improved and liberalised to further encourage investors of all persuasions.</P> <H3>Agriculture</H3> 38 per cent of Lebanon is under cultivation. Wheat, vegetables and fruits are grown mainly in the Bekaa valley, olives and apple trees in the mountain, and a wide variety of vegetables, citrus fruits and bananas along the semi-tropical coast. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Lebanon's total population is about three million, one third of which live in Greater Beirut, the Capital City. The Lebanese people are Arabs and from mixed races, ethnic origins and religious affiliations. Main towns are: Beirut (the Capital), Tripoli (North District), Saida and Tyre (Southern District), Zahleh and Baalbeck (Bekaa District), Jounieh and Baabda (Mount Lebanon). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> Archaeological discoveries have proved that Lebanon's history begins around 6000 BC. When the Canaanites, members of the Great Semitic Amorite migration, settled along the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean. They were called the Phoenicians by the Greeks with whom they traded. <P>The Phoenicians' domain, in what is now Lebanon, was conquered successively by the Hyksos, Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mameluks and Ottomans.</P> <P>In the early 17th century, a ruler head of Lebanon, Emir Fakhreddine El Maani tried to cast off Turkish rule. After the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon was put under French mandate by the League of Nations in 1920. Lebanon's independence from France was not finally obtained until 22 November 1943. It quickly established itself - despite its diminutive size and total lack of resources other than an enterprising people - as the main intellectual centre, entrepot, and commercial and banking headquarters of the Middle East. The ravages of a war lasting for a little over 16 years were finally halted in 1991 since which time the country has been carefully rebuilding itself to be once again 'the Switzerland' of the Middle East.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> A multi-confessional state, Lebanon has no official religion. <P>Christian and Moslem represent the two main faiths, each one divided into many communities. Other minorities and cultures, among them Jews, practise their religions freely.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Arabic is the mother tongue and official language of the country, but French and English are spoken by the majority of the people. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Greenwich mean time plus two hours. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Money</H3> The legal tender is the Lebanese pound (called 'Lira' in Arabic) abbreviated to L.L. US$ are also widely in use. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays</H3> <H3>National holidays</H3> 1 January (New Year), 1 May (Labour Day) and 22 November (Independence Day). <H3>Religious holidays</H3> The dates of some religious holidays vary from year to year depending on the calendar used by the community. <H3>Christians</H3> 9 February (St. Maron), Good Friday (Roman and Orthodox), 15 August (Assumption), 25 December (Christmas/Roman) <H3>Moslems</H3> <P>Muharram 1 (New Year), Id El Fitr (one day at the end of the month of Ramadan), Id el Adha (two days; the pilgrimage to Mecca), Prophet Mohammed's Birthday, 10 Muharram (Ashurah).</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> In Beirut: The National Museum, Downtown Archaeological Sites, Pigeons' Rock, American University Campus. <P>In the Bekaa: Ruins of Baalbeck and Anjar. <P>In Byblos: Ruins of Byblos and the Nahr El Kelb inscriptions. <P>In Jounieh: See our Lady of Lebanon (Harissa). <P>In Jeita: Grotto with subterranean lake and walk in the upper galleries. <P>In Tripoli: Visit the city and the St. Gilles Crusader Castle. <P>In Sidon (Saida): Visit the city and the Crusaders Harbour and Castle. <P>In Tyr (Sour): Visit the Maritime City with ruins. <P>In Beitiddine and Deir el Kamar: Visit the palaces. <P>In the Ceddars: Visit the remains of the Cedar trees that were used by the King Solomon to build his temple. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> All year round. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> One should dress as in any large American or European city. Ladies: In winter they will need a raincoat, rainboots, and warm but not heavy coat. Always carry a stole or sweater. A lightweight jacket for evenings is necessary up in the hills. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for sightseeing and up the mountains. <P>Light fabrics or light wool ensemble plus a coat or raincoat are for the season from November to April, while in other seasons summer clothes are recommended.</P> Gentlemen: A light-weight suit for summer, a medium-weight suit or tweeds for touring the rest of the year. <P>For the coldest months of winter a lightweight top coat will be necessary. In the evening, dark conservative clothes are appropriate.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts</H3> In summer: Aley; Bhamdoun, Sofar, Chtaura, Zahleh, Brummana, Beit Mery, Dhour el Choueir, Bois de Boulogne, Ajaltoun, Reyfoun, Faraya, Beikfaya, Laklouk, the Cedars, Ehden, Becharre, Sir el Dannieh, Jezzine, Bekaasefrine. <P>All year round: Sofar, Chtaura, Faraya, Laklouk, Cedars, Sannine. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Fishing, water-skiing, snow-skiing, tennis, bowling, golf, swimming, horse-riding, and all other sports are very popular. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Lebanon is a gourmet's paradise with over 2000 restaurants, cafes and night-clubs; half of them are in Beirut. Birthplace of the mezze, Lebanon prides itself on the preparation and presentation of local freshly grown fruits and vegetables. Most of the restaurants serve both European and Oriental food. The national drink is Araq, usually served with vast range of hors d'oeuvres. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Most shops open daily from 9am to 7pm. Shopping in Beirut is a pleasure. Here you can buy almost anything from the four corners of the Globe. Oriental and Lebanese handicrafts might be exciting such as needlework and weaving. Jezzine ware, knitted apparel, silver, gold, shoes and handbags, chests, etc. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> For information on visas, consult the nearest Lebanese Embassy or Consulate. <H3>Health regulations</H3> Cholera and yellow fever vaccination is required in case of persons coming from infected areas or countries. Smallpox vaccination is required from all passengers. <H3>Customs</H3> The following is admitted free of customs duties: cigarettes 200, or cigars 50, or tobacco 200grs., wine - one bottle, spirits - one bottle, eaux de toilette 1/2 litre, perfume 60grs. <H3>Personal effects</H3> Two cameras + four films, one small size movie camera, one typewriter, one phonograph + 20 records, one fishing and camping set, one radio, one portable television set, one set of binoculars and one hunting rifle with permit. <P>Dogs with sanitary certificate pay eight per cent 'Ad Valorem' and are checked by a veterinarian.</P> <P>Coffee, tea and other foodstuffs in reasonable quantities are admitted free.</P> <H3>Currency regulations</H3> No currency restrictions are imposed on means of payment be it national or foreign bank notes, or traveller's cheques, bonds, shares, etc. Foreign visitors, however, should make a declaration when exporting commercial quantities of gold. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> The Damascus road (inland): Beirut - Aley - Bhamdoum - Sofar - Dahr el Baidar - Chtaura - Baalbeck. <P>The Northern road (seacoast): Beirut - Nahrel Kelb - Jounieh - Maameltein - Byblos - Batroun - Chekka - Tripoli - inland to the Cedars of Lebanon. <P>The Southern road (sea coast): Beirut - Khaldeh - Damour - Saida (Sidon) and Sour (Tyr). Many other secondary road systems are available. Roads are widespread very efficiently all over the country. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Miscellaneous</H3> Lebanon is a land of great natural beauty enhanced by a variety of historic and archaeological sites of impressive size and quality. From the north to the south the coast line is met abruptly by tree covered mountains, the upper parts of which are covered with snow for five months of the year. One can ski on the snow covered mountains and swim in the warm sea in the same day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>List of representatives abroad</H3> Lebanese Tourist and Information Offices in: <P>BELGIUM: Rue Ravenstein 14, Brussels. Tel: 5133035; 5134923.</P> <P>EGYPT: Talaat Harb Str. 1, (Midan Al-Tahrir), Cairo. Tel: 752529.</P> <P>ENGLAND: 90, Piccadilly, London W1, Tel. 4092031/2. <P>FRANCE: Faubourg Saint-Honore 124, 75008 Paris. Tel: 3591036. GERMANY: Baseler Strasse 46-48, 6000 Frankfurt/Main 1. Tel: 235987.</P> <P>IRAQ: Al Saadoun Street, Ali Baba Square, Baghdad. Tel: 97058.</P> <P>SAUDI ARABIA: Al Mufti Bldg., King Abdel Aziz Street, Jeddah. Tel: 23299</P> <P>SWEDEN: Engelbrektsplan 2, S-l1434 Stockholm. Tel: 119650/1.</P> <P>USA: 405, Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Tel: (212) 4212201/2</P> <P>Lebanese Embassies, Legations, Consulates, MEA's Offices and all Lebanese airlines and maritime transportation offices and agencies.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><I><P>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Lebanon thanks to the co-operation of the Ministry of Tourism in Beirut.</P> </I> <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>