BEIRUT

Introduction

Info Beirut

introduction

Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon with a population of approximately 2.1 million people in its metropolitan area. The city is on a relatively small headland jutting into the east Mediterranean.

It is by far the biggest city in Lebanon. Due to Lebanon's small size the capital has always held the status as the only true cosmopolitan city in the country, and ever since the independence, has been the commercial and financial hub of Lebanon. 20 km to its North is Jounieh, a city very closely associated with Beirut.

Beirut is Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy, with many banks and corporations based in its Central District, Hamra Street, Rue Verdun and Ashrafieh.

Following the destructive Lebanese Civil War, Beirut's cultural landscape underwent major reconstruction.

In May 2015, Beirut was officially recognized as one of the New7Wonders Cities together with Vigan, Doha, Durban, Havana, Kuala Lumpur, and La Paz.

info

POPULATION : City: 361,366 /  Metro: 2,063,363
FOUNDED :  15th century BC
TIME ZONE : +2 (UTC)   Summer: +3 (UTC)
LANGUAGE : Arabic (official), French, English
RELIGION : Muslim 59.7% (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), other 1.3%;  17 religious sects recognized
AREA : 20 km2 (8 sq mi)  /  Metro: 200 km2 (80 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 
COORDINATES : 33°53′13″N 35°30′47″E
SEX RATIO : Male: 50.80% 
 Female: 49.20%
ETHNIC : 
AREA CODE : 01
POSTAL CODE : 
DIALING CODE : +961 01
WEBSITE : Official Website

Tourism

The largely pedestrianized Beirut Central District is the core of the Beirut tourism scene. The district is a cluster of stone-façade buildings lining arcaded streets and radial alleyways. The architecture of the area is a mix of French Architecture and Venetian Gothic architecture mixed with Arabesque and Ottoman Architecture. The district contains numerous old mosques and crusader churches, as well as uncovered remnants and ruins of the Roman era. The District contains tens of restaurants, cafes and pubs, as well as a wide range of shopping stores mainly in Beirut Souks. High-rise hotels and towers line the district's New Waterfront, marina and seaside promenade.

Another popular tourist destination in Beirut is the Corniche Beirut, a 4.8 km (3 mi) pedestrian promenade that encircles the capital's seafront from the Saint George Bay in the north all the way to Avenue de Paris and Avenue General de Gaulle south of the city. The corniche reaches its maximum height above sea level at Raouché, a high-rise residential neighborhood rising over a giant white limestone cliff and facing the recognizable off-shore Raouché Rocks.

Hamra Street is a long cobblestone street connecting the Beirut Central District with the coastal Raouche area. The street is a large concentration of shopping stores, boutiques, restaurants, banks, street vendors, sidewalk cafes, newspaper kiosks, and a booming nightlife spurred by students from the neighboring American University of Beirut. The AUB campus is another popular visitor destination, composed of a cluster of 19th century red-roofed buildings dispersed on a wooded hillside overlooking the Mediterranean.

Gemmayzeh is Beirut's artistic Bohemian quarter, full of narrow streets and historic buildings from the French era. It is located East of the Beirut Central District, bordering the Saifi Village. The neighborhood is well known for its trendy bars and pubs, cafes, restaurants and lounges; most are directly located on Rue Gouraud, the main thoroughfare that cuts through the middle of the district. In 2004, Travel + Leisure magazine called Gemmayzeh "SoHo by the Sea," due to its colorful and chic cafés amid 1950s apartment buildings and hole-in-the-wall shops.

The tourism industry in Beirut has been historically important to the local economy and remains to this day to be a major source of revenue for the city, and Lebanon in general.

Before the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut was widely regarded as "The Paris of the Middle East, often cited as a financial and business hub where visitors could experience the Levantine Mediterranean culture.

Beirut's diverse atmosphere and ancient history make it an important destination which is slowly rebuilding itself after continued turmoil. Although in recent times, certain countries such as the United States frequently place Lebanon and Beirut in particular, within their travel warnings list due to a large number of car bombings and orchestrated political violence.

According to the 2012 tourist statistics, 34% of the tourists in Beirut came from states within the Arab League, 33% came from European countries (mainly France, Germany, and Britain), and 16% from the Americas (about half of which are from the United States).

History

Beirut was settled more than 5,000 years ago. Its name derives from the Canaanite-Phoenician be'erot ("wells"), referring to the underground water table that is still tapped by the local inhabitants for general use. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed 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 is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets of the Amarna letters, three letters that Ammunira of Biruta(Beirut) sent to the pharaoh of Egypt.


Hellenistic and Roman period

In 140 B.C. the city was destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon in his contest with Antiochus VII Sidetes for the throne of the Macedonian Seleucid monarchy. Beirut was soon rebuilt on a more conventional Hellenistic plan and renamed Laodicea in Phoenicia (Greek: Λαοδίκεια ἡ ἐν Φοινίκῃ). The modern city overlies the ancient one, and little archaeology was carried out until after the end of the civil war in 1991. The post-war salvage excavations (1993-to date) have yielded new insights in the layout and history of Roman Berytus. Public architecture included several bath complexes, colonnaded streets, a circus and theater,  residential areas were excavated in the Future Garden of Forgiveness, Martyrs' Square and the Beirut Souks.

Beirut was conquered by Pompey in 64 B.C. The city was assimilated into the Roman Empire, veteran soldiers were sent there, and large building projects were undertaken. Beirut was considered the most Roman city in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. In 14 B.C., during the reign of Herod the Great, Berytus became a colonia and was named Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus.


Middle Ages

Beirut passed into Arab control in 635. Prince Arslan bin al-Mundhir founded the Principality of Sin-el-Fil in Beirut in 759 AD. From this principality developed the later Principality of Mount Lebanon, which was the basis for the establishment of Greater Lebanon, today's Lebanon.

As a trading centre of the eastern Mediterranean, Beirut was overshadowed by Acre during the Middle Ages. From 1110 to 1291 it was in the hands of the Crusaders' Kingdom of Jerusalem. John of Ibelin, the Old Lord of Beirut (1179–1236) rebuilt the city after the battles with Saladin and also built the Ibelin family palace in Beirut.


Ottoman rule

Under the Ottoman sultan Selim I (1512-1520), the Ottomans conquered Syria including present-day Lebanon. Beirut was controlled by local Druze emirs throughout the Ottoman period.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, Beirut was developing close commercial and political ties with European imperial powers, particularly France. European interests in Lebanese silk and other export products transformed the city into a major port and commercial centre.

Meanwhile, Ottoman power in the region continued to decline. Sectarian and religious conflicts, power vacuums, and changes in the political dynamics of the region culminated in the 1860 Lebanon conflict. Beirut became a destination for Maronite Christian refugees fleeing from the worst areas of the fighting on Mount Lebanon and in Damascus. This in turn altered the ethnic composition of Beirut itself, sowing the seeds of future ethnic and religious troubles there and in greater Lebanon. However, Beirut was able to prosper in the meantime. This was again a product of European intervention, and also a general realization amongst the city's residents that commerce, trade, and prosperity depended on domestic stability.


Modern era

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, Beirut, along with the rest of Lebanon, was placed under the French Mandate.

Lebanon achieved independence in 1943, and Beirut became the capital city. The city remained a regional intellectual capital, becoming a major tourist destination and a banking haven, especially for the Persian Gulf oil boom.

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 the Muslim west part and the Christian east. The downtown area, previously the home of much of the city's commercial and cultural activity, became a no man's land known as the Green Line. Many inhabitants fled to other countries.

Another destructive chapter was the 1982 Lebanon War, during which most of West Beirut was under siege by Israeli troops. In 1983, French and US barracks were bombed, killing 241 American servicemen, 58 French servicemen, six civilians and the two suicide bombers.

Since the end of the war in 1990, the people of Lebanon have been rebuilding Beirut, and by the start of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the city had somewhat regained its status as a tourist, cultural and intellectual center in the Middle East and as a centre for commerce, fashion, and media. The reconstruction of downtown Beirut has been largely driven by Solidere, a development company established in 1994 by Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The city has been host to the Asian Club Basketball Championship and the Asian Football Cup and has hosted the Miss Europe pageant eight times, 1960–1964, 1999, 2001–2002.

In the 12 November 2015 Beirut bombings, two suicide bombers detonated explosives outside a mosque and inside a bakery, killing 43 people and injuring 200. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Climate

Beirut has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild days and nights.

Autumn and spring are warm, winter is mild and rainy, and summer can be virtually rainless.

August is considered the only really hot muggy month, with a monthly average high temperature of 32 °C (90 °F), and January and February are the coldest months, with a monthly average low temperature of 11 °C (52 °F).

The prevailing wind during the afternoon and evening is from the west (onshore, blowing in from the Mediterranean); at night it reverses to offshore, blowing from the land out to sea.

Climate data for Beirut

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec 
Record high °C (°F)27.9
(82.2)
30.5
(86.9)
36.6
(97.9)
39.3
(102.7)
41.1
(106)
40.0
(104)
40.4
(104.7)
39.5
(103.1)
37.5
(99.5)
37.0
(98.6)
33.1
(91.6)
30.0
(86)
 
Average high °C (°F)17.4
(63.3)
17.5
(63.5)
19.6
(67.3)
22.6
(72.7)
25.4
(77.7)
27.9
(82.2)
30.0
(86)
30.7
(87.3)
29.8
(85.6)
27.5
(81.5)
23.2
(73.8)
19.4
(66.9)
 
Daily mean °C (°F)14.0
(57.2)
14.0
(57.2)
16.0
(60.8)
18.7
(65.7)
21.7
(71.1)
24.9
(76.8)
27.1
(80.8)
27.8
(82)
26.8
(80.2)
24.1
(75.4)
19.5
(67.1)
15.8
(60.4)
 
Average low °C (°F)11.2
(52.2)
11.0
(51.8)
12.6
(54.7)
15.2
(59.4)
18.2
(64.8)
21.6
(70.9)
24.0
(75.2)
24.8
(76.6)
23.7
(74.7)
21.0
(69.8)
16.3
(61.3)
12.9
(55.2)
 
Record low °C (°F)0.8
(33.4)
3.0
(37.4)
0.2
(32.4)
7.6
(45.7)
10.0
(50)
15.0
(59)
18.0
(64.4)
19.0
(66.2)
17.0
(62.6)
11.1
(52)
7.0
(44.6)
4.6
(40.3)
 
              
Source #1: Pogodaiklimat.ru
Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute 

Beirut mean sea temperature

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
18.5 °C 17.5 °C 17.5 °C 18.5 °C 21.3 °C 24.9 °C 27.5 °C 28.5 °C 28.1 °C 26.0 °C 22.6 °C 20.1 °C 

Geography

Beirut sits on a peninsula extending westward into the Mediterranean Sea about 94 km (58 mi) north of the Lebanon-Israel border.

It is flanked by the Lebanon Mountains and has taken on a triangular shape, largely influenced by its situation between and atop two hills: Al-Ashrafieh and Al-Musaytibah.

The Beirut Governorate occupies 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi), and the city's metropolitan area 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi).

The coast is rather diverse, with rocky beaches, sandy shores and cliffs situated beside one another.

Economy

Beirut's economy is service-oriented with the main growth sectors being banking and tourism.

In an area dominated by authoritarian or militarist regimes, the Lebanese capital was generally regarded as a haven of liberalism, though a precarious one.

With its seaport and airport—coupled with Lebanon’s free economic and foreign exchange system, solid gold-backed currency, banking-secrecy law, and favourable interest rates—Beirut became an established banking centre for Arab wealth, much of which was invested in construction, commercial enterprise, and industry (mostly the manufacture of textiles and shoes, food processing, and printing).

The economy of Beirut is diverse, including publishing, banking, trade and various industries. During that period, Beirut was the region's financial services center. At the onset of the oil boom starting in the 1960s, Lebanon-based banks were the main recipients of the region's petrodollars.

Subdivisions

Downtown
Located in the heart of the city beside the Beirut port and Beirut marina; includes many cafés, restaurants, and places shop. Also home to many historical sites. Be warned, however, that it is very touristy, and not as authentic as other districts.

Ashrafieh
The center of modern nightlife in the city, though less so during the summertime. Ashrafieh, is divided into smaller areas; Gemmayze and Monot Street are the most popular nightspots, while Sassine Square and Sodeco Square are mainly afternoon shopping areas. Gemmayze consists of mostly pubs, though it does also contain a fine selection of restaurants. Many people are starting to think of it as a separate entity from Ashrafieh. Monot Street features a mix of restaurants, nightclubs, and pubs.

Ain El Mraiseh
Seafront district with plenty of hotels and restaurants.

Hamra
A hive of activity, and a shopping-lover's paradise. Hamra became the center during the troubles in the 70's. The more popular places are Bliss st., Hamra st., Sourati st. and Jeanne d'Arc st., each havings its own share of cafés, hotels, and restaurants. Hamra st. in particular has been redeveloped in recent years, with larger chains of restaurants and cafes opening there, including Starbucks, Costa, Nandos, Roadsters, and Applebees. There has also been a revitalization of the pub scene, with over a dozen bars and pubs operating in the area.

Ras Beirut
The westernmost district of Beirut. Ras Beirut literally translates to "the head of Beirut" due to its location on the tip of peninsula, home to the Manara Lighthouse and various beach clubs (though none feature any sandy beaches).

Rawcheh
The Pigeon Rocks, the focal point of this district, are located here.

Ramlet El Baida
A residential area just south of Rawcheh, here you'll find Beirut's only public beach.

Verdun
A trendy shopping area, Rue Verdun (or Verdun st.) is the main area where you'll find most hotels and shops. The area also features cafes and restaurants. Many Gulf Arabs stay here during summer vacations.

Jnah
A predominantly residential area in southern Beirut, but also home to various clubs and hotels.

Internet, Comunication

Free Wifi is widely available in Beirut.

Lebanon - Travel guide

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