After years of unrest, Lebanon is regaining its former reputation as «The Switzerland of the Middle East». Its mountains and its scenic beauty were almost untouched. Lebanon was visited by nearly one million visitors during 2000, 1.4 million during 2002, and the number is expected to grow a lot within the next five years. One who visits Lebanon is fascinated by the 7,000 year old little country. The weather is always moderate, the prices are very reasonable and, most of all the people are friendly.
As a republic since 1943, it is a compact country of 10,452 square kilometers with a
population of 3.57 millions (year 2000). The capital is Beirut.
Lebanon falls on the Eastern Mediterranean sea,
between 33° 34'.40 latitude north and 35° 36'.40° longitude east.
The country is located at the meeting point of three continents, and
over the centuries it has been the cross roads of many civilizations whose
trace may still be seen today. In winter, the high peaks are covered with snow and in summer the
limestone slopes glimmer white in the distance. Two rocky ranges
traverse Lebanon parallel to the seacoast, separated by the high
plateau of the Bekaa Valley. Its countryside is a place of
rocks, cedar trees and magnificent ruins that look down from the mountains to the sea.
Local time in Lebanon is GMT +02 in winter and GMT
+03 in summer (April to September).
Winter days are short with daylight from 6 AM until 5 PM. In summer,
the days are longer, from 5 am until 8 PM.
Lebanon is a democratic republic with a
parliamentary system of government and a cabinet headed by a Prime Minister. Its
constitution is based on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers,
with a president elected every 6 years.
PASSPORT AND VISA
Passports: Passports valid for 6 months are required by all except
nationals of Syria arriving from their country with a valid national ID.
Visas: Visas are required by all, except for the
nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE for
stays of up to 3 months. Nationals of the European Community, Common Wealth,
American Continent, Russia and Japan can obtain their visas on arrival at Beirut
International Airport or any other port of entry at the Lebanese border. Other
nationals of East Europe and Asia should contact the consulate at the Lebanese
Embassy for details about how to obtain their visa.
Cost: Visitor or Business visas cost 50,000 Lebanese
Pounds (US $33).
Restricted Entry: The Government of Lebanon refuses
entry to holders of Israeli passports, holders of passports containing a visa
for Israel, valid or expired, used or unused and passports with entry stamps to
Lebanon enjoys an essential Mediterranean
climate with mild, rainy winters and longer warm summers. The country is rain free between
June and October. Visitors can count on 300 sunny days every year. However, mountains are
cold and snowy in winter. Average annual rainfall is about 1,000 mm in Beirut (40 inches),
but much higher in the mountains.
Warm clothes are essential in the winter.
Lowest temperature may be as low as -4ºC in the mountains, and 10ºC on the coast.
Car rental companies provide self driven cars
with or without a driver. Lebanese taxis are reasonably priced (Between 1000 and 2000
Bus service is also available to various
destinations. However, dont count on them if you have an appointment. They are not
reliable. You can never know when you will get there !
Driving is the most convenient way to get
around in the country. The road network is undergoing a massive reconstruction after the
war. In and around Beirut, traffic jams are now a way of life. Beware of traffic lights
that are rare and signs that are not always respected. Today Lebanon is saturated with
cars (1.3 million), which means there is one car for every 3 persons ! However,
driving , driving in the mountains is definitely fun and relaxing: fresh air and wonderful
CURRENCY AND BANKING
Movement of currency and all exchange
transactions are completely free of any kind of control. Foreign currency can be exchanged
at any bank or at one of the numerous money exchange shops.
The monetary unit is the Lebanese Lira (LL) or Lebanese Pound.
One US Dollar is almost equal to LL 1505, depending on the exchange rate.
During the war and until recently, the whole economy was «dolarised». Still, most Lebanese calculate their transactions
in US Dollars. Amazingly, the cellular phone system, privately owned, but somehow
controlled by the government uses cents and dollars to charge their customers. All ski
resorts accept US Dollars.
Visitors may use credit cards in major establishments, such as Master Card, America Express, Diners Club and Visa.
The electrical current is 220 Volts, but some
areas are still on the 110 Volts level. Unification is on the way. It is best to check.
Land lines: International call facilities are provided by Lebanon’s own satellite stations.
The country code is 961 and the outgoing international dialing code is 00.
Cellular phones are widely available and the cellular GSM 900 network is
operated by both Alfa
and MTC Touch. Visitors may
buy a "limited time" GSM
card for their cellular phone at about LL 100,000 for the first month.
Internet connection is mainly provided by 3 ISPs: Cyberia, IDM and
TerraNet. There are cybercafés in major towns of Lebanon.
Fax: International facilities are available. Faxes can be sent from most
Post: With the newly privatized LibanPost, post to Europe usually takes 2-4
days and to the USA between 4-7 days. Post offices are open Mon-Thurs 0800-1400
and Fri 0800-1100.
Press: There are more than 30 daily newspapers published in Arabic,
Armenian and French and over 100 publications appear on a weekly or monthly
basis. The Daily Star and Beirut Times are published in English and there are
several English-language weeklies, primarily Monday Morning. The best-selling
Arabic dailies are Al Anwar, Al Nahar, Al Liwaa, Al Safir and Al Dyar. The most
important dailies in French are L'Orient-Le Jour and Le Soir. A wide choice of
international newspapers and magazines are also available at bookshops.
Christianity and Islam are the main religions.
Christian denominations, mainly Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Armenian and
Protestant account for approximately 40 per cent. Islam (predominantly Shi'ite
accounts for another 40 per cent of the population's beliefs. Other religions
account for the remaining 20 per cent.
Lebanon is the only country in the middle
east following the western Sunday weekend style. The country celebrates both Christian and
Arabic and French are the official languages
of Lebanon and commonly spoken. English is very widely spoken. You can also hear Armenian on the
streets and public places; and we Lebanese are well known for our talent to mix all of the
first three languages in only one sentence!
How to say it in Lebanese
How much does it cost
Sabah el kheir
Masa’a al kheir