Lebanon Destinations Travel Guide


Flag of Lebanon

Language: Arabic, French

Currency: Lebanese pound (LBP)

Calling Code: 961


Lebanon (Arabic: لبنان Lubnān), officially the Lebanese Republic, is a country in the Middle East that borders on the south with Israel, on the north and east with Syria, and is bathed by the Mediterranean Sea to the west. In the cities of Baalbek, Tire and Byblos there are the oldest preserved Roman temples and Phoenician sanctuaries. It has one of the highest HDIs in the region, being the 7th highest in the Arab World. Being a country influenced by many cultures, it is reflected in the diversity of architecture and society. In Beirut there is the architectural influence typical of Arab countries, with large mosques for the Muslim population, and at the same time large Maronite or Orthodox churches for Christians, and modern skyscrapers.

It was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918, when it collapsed at the end of the First World War. Then the five provinces that make up modern Lebanon were under the French Mandate. The French expanded the borders of the Governorate of Mount Lebanon, which was populated by Maronites and Druzes to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing a unique political system, Confessionalism, a consociational type of power sharing among religious communities. Bechara El Khoury, first president of Lebanon, Riad el-Solh, first Prime Minister of Lebanon and Emir Majid Arslan II, Prime Minister of Defense, as the three founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and national heroes for having achieved independence are considered . Foreign troops withdrew completely from the country on December 31, 1946. Until the 1970s, Lebanon was the financial center of the Middle East, which earned it the nickname of Near Eastern Switzerland. However, its economic importance disintegrated with the terrible Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1990, which destroyed an exemplary political equilibrium. Since 1973 he has been a member of the International Organization of la Francophonie.

By mid-2006, the country had regained a considerable degree of stability and development, the reconstruction of Beirut was almost complete and a growing number of tourists were returning to the country, but in the summer of 2006 the Lebanon War broke out one month long, between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, which caused a large number of civilian casualties and significant damage to the country's infrastructure. On 14 August, a ceasefire was reached after an appeal to end the hostilities of the UN Security Council.


Travel Destination in Lebanon

 Medieval town of Anjar was originally built as a trading post on the crossing of the trading routes in the strategic Bekaa Valley.

Ruins of the ancient town of Baalbek in the Beqaa Valley is one of the most important archeological sites left from the time of Antiquity.

Byblos Castle is a well preserved example of European military architecture in the Middle East that remains in near perfect preservation state.

Jeita Grotto is a large network of naturally formed caves with splendid geological formations near Beirut, capital of Lebanon.

Picturesque Kadisha Valley is famous for its numerous ancient Christian monasteries perched on its beautiful cliffs.

Sidon Sea Castle is a medieval fortress constructed on the island by Crusaders in the early 13th century to defend their conquests.

Tyre is one of the most important and one of the largest ancient archaeological sites situated in South Governorate in Lebanon.



The name was given to the Lebanon mountain range, which runs through the country along the Mediterranean coast. The name of the range, in turn, comes from the ancient Semitic laban ("white") - its relatively high peaks are covered with snow in winter.



Lebanon is located in the Middle East. In the west it is washed by the Mediterranean Sea, the coastline is 225 km. In the north and east it borders with Syria, in the south with Israel. The Syrian-Lebanese border has a length of 375 km, the Lebanese-Israeli - 79 km. A small segment of the Lebanese border with the Golan Heights (Shebaa Farms), annexed by Israel, is a disputed territory.

The total area of ​​Lebanon is 10452 km². The country is 161st in size in the world. Most of Lebanon is covered by mountains, except for the Bekaa Valley in the northeast and a narrow flat area stretched from north to south along the seashore. Coastal Lebanon is separated from the eastern regions by the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountain ranges. Lebanon has deposits of limestone, iron ore, and salt deposits. Lebanon is rich in water resources. The Litani River is the main source of water for southern Lebanon. However, there are no navigable rivers in the country.



Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate. In coastal regions, winters tend to be cool, while summers are hot and humid. In winter, in the mountains, the temperature drops below 0 °, snow is possible. Although the average annual rainfall in Lebanon is much higher than in neighboring countries, an arid climate prevails in the northeast, as the mountains block the flow of moist air from the sea. Sand and dust storms often occur.

In ancient Lebanon, forests of the Lebanese cedar, which became a symbol of the country, grew in huge numbers. For centuries, trees have been cut down without replanting as the main material in shipbuilding. This led to the fact that by the 20th century, only separate islands of greenery remained on the site of the richest forests.



The flora of Lebanon consists of approximately 2200-2400 species. There are no endemic families in it, the number of endemic genera is small, and endemic species are associated with young progressive speciation in polymorphic genera. The flora of Lebanon is dominated by the Mediterranean floristic element with a slight admixture of Iranian-Turanian species.

The vegetation of Lebanon (as a mainly mountainous country) has a belt character. The lower belt is represented on limestone rocks by a typical Mediterranean maquis. It is dominated by European olive (Olea europaea). In the north, in the Tripoli region, it rises to 600-800 m abs. height, and in the east along the slopes of Hermon it reaches 700 m abs. high Together with the olive tree, there are oleander (Nerium oleander), evergreen oaks - Lusitanian oak (Quercus lusitanica), Kaleprin oak (Quercus calliprinos), Tavor oak (Quercus ithaburensis), shrubs - olive-like wolfberry (Daphne oleoides), prostrate cherry (Prunus prostrate), rosemary officinalis (Rosmarinus officinalis) and herbs - Lavandula stoechas (Lavandula stoechas), Dorycnium hirsutum, yellow palm (Cytinus hypocistis), bush lily (Bupleurum fruticosum), Glynus lotoides (Glynus lotoides), painkiller (Clobularia alupum), Pastinaca teretiuscula, Turgeniopsis foeniculaea, etc.

The next is the forest belt of Lebanon, extending from 600-800 m to 2300-2400 m abs. high, well expressed in the central part of the country, where sandstones predominate. The vegetation of the sandstones is severely disturbed by clearings and grazing. The greatest harm is caused by goats, which are not so much herbivores as carnivores. At altitudes from 1300 to 2000 m, there are few sparse groves of majestic trees such as the Lebanese cedar (Cedrus libani), the best of which is in the Bsherra valley at an altitude of 1520 m.

In the forest belt there are also oriental plane trees (Platanus orientalis), Syrian maple (Acer syriacum), mann ash (Fraxinus ornus) and conifers - Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia), evergreen cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), fir Cilician juniper (Abies cilicica), tree-like junipers - in Lebanon prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) and smelly juniper (Juniperus foetidissima), and on Hermon - high juniper (Juniperus excelsa). Higher up, arborescent junipers are replaced by shrubby stone juniper (Juniperus drupacea). Ferns are not uncommon in the forests, of which the most interesting are the peculiar Pteris arguta and Pteris longifolia, and thickets of narrow-leaved willow tea (Chamerion angustifolium).

From a height of 2300-2400 m begins the least studied belt of high-mountain alpine vegetation. Pontic rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum), Selaginella Selaginella denticulate, forest sedge (Carex sylvatica) and other boreal and arcto-alpine plants grow here: saxifrage (Saxifraga), anemone (Anemone), buttercup (Ranunculus), grains (Draba), gentian ( Gentiana).

In the much drier mountains of Anti-Lebanon, the vegetation is poorer, deciduous species are almost absent, and of the conifers, only the Lebanese cedar (Cedrus libani) and the stone juniper (Juniperus drupacea) are found. In the lower belt, here and there, singly evergreen oaks and Palestinian pistachio (Pistacia palaesina) grow, and sometimes there are also desert-steppe groups of prickly prickly pistachio (Poterium spinosum).

Cultivated plants in Lebanon are few. This is mainly wheat and barley, only on the Mediterranean coast are citrus and other fruit trees, grapes, figs (Ficus carica) and olives.



Ancient Lebanon
The appearance of the first settlements on the territory of modern Lebanon dates back to the 6th millennium BC. e. In the vicinity of Byblos, archaeologists have discovered the remains of prehistoric huts and primitive tools. Some household items point to the existence of sites of fishing tribes from the Neolithic period as early as the 8th-7th millennium BC. e.

Lebanon became the birthplace of Phoenicia, a developed maritime trading state that stretched along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians gave the world the first alphabet. The heyday of Phenicia fell on 1200-800 BC. e. In the VI century BC. e. Phoenicia fell under the rule of the Persians, led by Cyrus the Great. In 332 BC. e. Alexander the Great made a campaign against Phenicia, destroying its largest city, Tire. With the collapse of the Macedonian empire, Lebanon became part of the Seleucid Kingdom, and at the end of the 1st century BC. e. - The Roman Empire.

During the period of the Arab conquests and the formation of the Caliphate, Islam penetrated Lebanon. In the 12th century, Lebanon became part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1261, the crusaders were expelled from Lebanon by the Mamluk Turks, and Lebanon was part of Mamluk Egypt until 1516. In 1517, Sultan Selim I annexed this territory to the Ottoman Empire. The emirs of the Shehab dynasty ruled Lebanon from 1697 to 1842.

French Mandate
The territory of Lebanon (as part of Greater Syria) was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years. After the defeat of Turkey in the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the territory of Greater Syria was occupied in 1918 by British troops under the command of General Alenby. Subsequently, under the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 between the Entente countries, the territory of Syria was transferred to France, and management was legalized in the form of a French mandate from the League of Nations. In 1926, the territory of Lebanon was separated from Syria, and Lebanon became a separate territorial unit, governed, however, by the administration of the French Mandate of Syria.

Independent Lebanon
In 1940 France was occupied by Germany. Already in November, the first elections were held and a government was formed. Lebanon officially gained independence in 1943. The unwritten "National Pact" established a rule according to which the president of the country should be a Maronite Christian, and the prime minister should be a Sunni Muslim (the speaker of parliament should be a Shiite Muslim). In 1948, Lebanon took part in the first Arab-Israeli war. After the defeat of the Arab Liberation Army, Lebanon signed a ceasefire agreement with Israel. 100 thousand Arab refugees moved to Lebanon.

Since 1956, contradictions between Christians and Muslims began to intensify in Lebanon, which resulted in a civil war in May 1958. To maintain power in the country, President Camille Chamoun turned to the United States for military assistance. American troops were in the country from July to October until the situation was completely normal.

Civil War
In 1975, a second civil war broke out in Lebanon between right-wing Christian forces and left-wing Muslim militias, who were supported by Palestinian militants in Lebanon. The war lasted 15 years, destroying the once prosperous economy of the country, and claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people. The bloodshed ended in 1990 with the signing of the Taif Accords.

In 1976, at the request of the then government, Syrian troops entered Lebanon. Syrian occupation (eng.)rus. continued until 2005, despite the official demands of the Lebanese presidents for the withdrawal of Syrian troops, starting in 1983.

Twice Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops were introduced into Lebanese territory. The first time was in March 1978, after the capture of two buses with hostages, when 36 Israeli citizens died and over 70 were injured; the second in June 1982 - in response to the assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, massive bombardments were carried out on PLO positions in Lebanon. Then the PLO subjected to massive shelling of the territory of Israel, and the IDF forces entered the territory of southern Lebanon. IDF forces remained in southern Lebanon until 2000. After the withdrawal of troops between Israel and Lebanon, a clear border was drawn - the so-called "blue line", but the Shebaa farms north of the Golan Heights remained a disputed territory.

Subsequent period
In the post-war period, the Lebanese economy grew rapidly.

A short period of relative calm was interrupted by a government crisis provoked by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, followed by the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country and the Israeli-Lebanese conflict in 2006.

In 2007, the situation in Lebanon was complicated by the crisis around the Nahr al-Barid camp.

In 2011, a conflict arose in Lebanon between the largest parliamentary factions. And in 2015, a wave of protests swept across the country due to government inaction and a political crisis, during which parliament could not elect a president until 2016.

On March 9, 2020, Lebanon defaulted on US$1.2 billion in bonds for the first time in the country's history. The total external debt reached $90 billion (more than 150% of GDP).

On August 10, 2020, the Lebanese government officially resigned in full force.


State structure

The "Lebanese model" (confessionalism) of the state system, which has existed for more than half a century, was created in 1943 in the process of gaining independence from France by Lebanon. In order to ensure more or less equal access to supreme power for all religious denominations, the following order was developed: the president of the country should be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister should be a Sunni Muslim, the speaker of parliament should be a Shiite Muslim, and the government should be equally represented by Christians and Muslims. According to the constitution, Lebanon is a parliamentary republic.

Legislative power is represented by the Assembly of Representatives (Arabic: مجلس النواب‎), the Lebanese Parliament, which consists of 128 deputies directly elected for a four-year term. The Assembly has 64 Muslims (27 Sunnis, 27 Shiites, 8 Druze and 2 Alawites) and 64 Christians (32 Maronites, 20 AAC Armenians, 2 Armenian Catholics, 7 Orthodox, 1 Greek Catholic (Melkite), 1 Protestant, as well as 1 more at your discretion). The parliament elects the president, approves the composition of the government, approves the laws and budget of the republic.

The President (Maronite) is elected by the Assembly of Representatives for a 6-year term, and the same person cannot hold office twice. Twice in history, this rule was violated: in 1995, the term of office of Ilyas Chraoui was extended for 3 years, and also in 2004, the presidential powers until November 23, 2007 were extended for Emile Lahoud. The President, on the recommendation of Parliament, appoints the Prime Minister (Sunni) and his first deputy. After consultations with the president and parliament, the prime minister forms the cabinet of ministers also on the principle of religious quotas.

In accordance with the confessional division in Lebanon, political parties were also born, which for the most part have a religious character. Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Druze parties are not fighting against each other, but for seats within predetermined confessional quotas. In each of the confessions, several political forces opposing each other have historically developed. For example, among the Lebanese Christians there were both fierce opponents of the Syrian military presence in Lebanon (for example, General Michel Aoun or the commander of the united Christian militia "Lebanese Forces" Samir Jaajaa), as well as politicians loyal to Syria, who just got presidential posts (Rene Muawwad, Elias Chraoui, Emile Lahoud).

Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was the first to challenge this system. He came to power not relying on any of the existing religious and political parties, but thanks to his colossal fortune. It also allowed him to carry out the restoration of the destroyed country. Syria supported the preservation of the old system of confessional quotas, stating that the only alternative to it could be a new civil war.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the country in 2018 was classified on the Democracy Index as a hybrid regime.

Lebanese political forces
A feature of Lebanese politics is the division of all political forces into supporters and opponents of Syrian influence in the country [source not specified 1886 days]. Currently, the first are united in the March 8 Coalition, which has 68 out of 128 seats in parliament, and the second - in the March 14 Coalition (60 seats in parliament). In every ethno-confessional group in Lebanon there are parties that act both from pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian positions.

The main parties of the Christian community are the Free Patriotic Movement (SPD), Kataib (Lebanese Phalanx), Lebanese Forces, National Liberal Party (NLP), Marada. The pro-Syrian positions are occupied by the SPD and Marada, the anti-Syrian ones by the Falangists, the Lebanese Forces, and the National Liberals. The movement of the Freedom Front stands for the consolidation of Christian political forces.

The largest Sunni Muslim party is the anti-Syrian Future Movement. The Shia community is dominated by the pro-Syrian Amal and Hezbollah.

A special place is occupied by the Druze Progressive Socialist Party (whose leader Walid Jumblatt is known for his unscrupulousness). It constantly changes its position depending on which political and / or military force prevails in Lebanon, standing up for the interests of the Druze community.

Party lists are built on a confessional basis, and within the party lists, seats are distributed according to the clan principle. At the same time, the confessional-clan division of Lebanon has a geographical reflection: adherents of one clan, as a rule, compactly inhabit a certain area and traditionally nominate the same representative.


2005 parliamentary election results by constituency

Constituency No. 1 - Beirut (19 deputies). All 19 seats went to the Al-Mustaqbal party. General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement and the Armenian Dashnaktsutyun Party did not win a single seat. Even before the elections, Michel Aoun called on the people of Beirut to boycott the elections, since, in his opinion, their results were predetermined. The leaders of the Armenian Dashnaktsutyun party also called not to participate in the elections. As a result, the lowest voter turnout was observed in the Christian districts of Beirut.

Constituency No. 2 - South Lebanon. The majority was received by the Amal-Hezbollah alliance.

Constituency No. 3 - Mount Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley - Michel Aoun received the majority.

Constituency No. 4 - Northern Lebanon - Saad Hariri's bloc received all 28 seats.



Lebanese make up the bulk of the Lebanese population. A large number of refugees from Palestine and their descendants, many of whom still live in camps organized decades ago (they have a number of restrictions on their rights compared to the native Lebanese: for example, there is a ban on practicing 70 professions).

Currently, there are (many illegally) about two million refugees and temporary migrants from Syria in the country.

In addition, thousands of foreign workers (India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Ethiopia, etc.) have been living in the country for years, doing various unskilled work in the country.

A fairly large Russian-speaking diaspora (including the descendants of citizens of the Russian Empire who moved to Lebanon after the 1917 revolution).



Benefits: Tourism. Financial Services Industry. Potential for winemaking and fruit growing. Low inflation (0.5% in 2004). The US has lifted its financial restrictions. Labor productivity in agriculture - the highest in the Arab world - is more than ten times higher than in Russia, higher than in Germany, etc.

Weaknesses: dependence on oil and gas imports. High public debt. Neighboring Syria is driving down the prices of essential goods. Reports of corruption undermine investor confidence.

Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Saad al-Shami announced the "bankruptcy of the state and the Central Bank of Lebanon."



There are 4 universities in Beirut, a state symphony orchestra, many music festivals are held - the most famous Beiteddinsky and Baalbek, where Pavarotti, Carreras and other world celebrities performed.

Many Lebanese speak at least 3 languages.


Religion in Lebanon

About 60% of the Lebanese population is Muslim (Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites and Druze). The number of Christians of various denominations in Lebanon reaches 40% (according to experts, 40.5%) of the population. On the territory of Lebanon, there are, in particular, the Orthodox (Greek Orthodox), the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syrian-Jacobite Orthodox Church, six Eastern Catholic churches - Maronite (Western Syrian), Chaldean Catholic, Melkite (Greek Catholic), Armenian Catholic, Syrian Catholic and Coptic Catholic.



Lebanon is home to an extremely small number of world famous athletes. Future bodybuilders Samir Bannut (winner of the Mr. Olympia tournament) and Mohammed Bannut, Ahmad Haidar (absolute world champion in 1997) were born in Lebanon.

Lebanon regularly takes part in the Asian and Olympic Games, both in summer and winter. Four times Lebanese athletes became Olympic medalists: wrestler Zakaria Chigab (Helsinki-1952) and weightlifter Mohamed Torabulsi (Munich-1972) won silver, wrestlers Khalil Taha (Helsinki-1952) and Hasan Bekhara (Moscow-1980) won bronze. .

Participation in the Asian Games brought great success to athletes from Lebanon - they climbed to the highest step of the podium five times. One of the gold medals was won at the Asian Winter Games. This success was achieved by skier Niki Furstbauer at the Winter Asian Games-2003.


Armed forces

During the civil war, the state armed forces actually disintegrated, and all the opposing groups had their own armed formations. Subsequently, government forces were restored, and in the 90s they were able to take control of the entire territory of the country; most of the militias were disarmed. According to the agreement, the reconstituted army included 20,000 militias, in particular, 8,000 Lebanese Forces fighters, 6,000 Amal fighters, 3,000 members of the Druze militias, 2,000 members of Hezbollah and a thousand members of the Marada Christian units.

In 1996, the Armed Forces amounted to 48.9 thousand people (Ground Forces - 97.1%, Navy - 1.2%, Air Force - 1.7%).

Until 2000, in the south of the country there was an allied Israel "Army of South Lebanon", which ceased to exist after the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the country. Armed formations in the south of the country remained with Hezbollah, which at the time of the outbreak of the Second Lebanese War actually controlled the south of Lebanon.

There are 5,600 UNIFIL soldiers permanently stationed in Lebanon, responsible for maintaining peace in the country. Part of the Syrian military contingent, which amounted to 35.5 thousand people in the late 90s, was withdrawn in 2001.