LebanonCopyright:  Anna Omelchenko 123rf.com


Capital: Beirut
Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP)
Language: Arabic
Listen to the national anthem

The region we know as Lebanon has been a part of many empires through history, Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and mamlu, to name a few and as a result there has been much conflict.

In Byblos, which is considered to be the oldest constantly inhabited city in the world is around 7,000 years old and evidence has been found to suggest that there was human habitation for around since 8,800 BC. Today, Byblos is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lebanon was home to the Phoenicians who went onto settle Carthage and Cádiz. The Phoenicians incidentally gave us the alphabet.

In 1943, Lebanon gained independence from the french, only after the elected government were imprisoned for a while by the French. In 1948, Lebanon supported attacks by neighbouring Arab states against the newly formed state of Isreal. The struggles within Lebanon have led to them being called a terrorist state especially after plane hijackings that were rampant during the 1970's. In 1982 a devastating invasion by Isreal, entered Beirut and a multinational force was sent to aid Lebanon. The troubles between the 1970's and the 1990's has left Lebanon a much poorer country.

The centuries of back and forth between empires has given Lebanon a number of sites that have been placed under protection by UNESCO World Heritage including the best preserved Roman temple - the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek (below).

Temple of Bacchus in BaalbekCopyright: Valery Shanin 123rf.com

The Temple of Bacchus is much larger than the Parthenon but is much less well known.

Tourism is a major and growing part of the Lebanese economy. It has been shown that the number of tourists has been steadily growing, drawn to the country for many reasons. When we look at the map we can easily get the idea that the whole region of the middle east is like a desert wasteland but the opposite is true with nature reserves, valleys in the mountains as well stunning scenery. The main attractions however are the ancient monuments such as the ancient port of Byblos which is the remains of an ancient wonder built by the Romans using concrete that actually sets beneath water! Tyre is another city which is an ancient city built by the Phoenicians around 2750 BC. Tyre has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The greatest number of visitors are from neighbouring Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan.

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world inhabited around 5,000 years ago. The first mention of Beirut however was discovered in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters dating from the 15th century BC! Legend and folklore syas that Beirut has been destroyed 7 times and each time it rebuilt. Because of this it has been called 'Phoenix'.

The Lebanese flag features one of the famous cedars of Lebanon, which in the bible are mentioned 77 times. Lebanese flag The green tree touches both the top and bottom red stripes and is exactly one third of the flags width. The white stripe is twice the thickness of the red stripes, this is known as the Spanish Fess. The Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus libani) has been revered for over 7,000 years and it was used for many things such as buildings ,boat building and it is believed that it was used in the building of the Ark of The Covenant. Sadly only a few of these trees survive and those that do are in patchy pockets. The Lebanese authorities are trying to replenish the famous cedar forests of old but it will be many many years until there are cedar forests in Lebanon again. Growing to around 40 m (131 ft), the oldest known cedar is around 1,000 years old.

Lebanese CedarCopyright:  Alberto Masnovo 123rf.com

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