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Home > Lebanon > Country Profile



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"Lebanon is rapidly becoming an important international destination, and business is increasing in general, most specifically in the luxury niche. Over the last two years the country has been re-discovered by tourists from the Gulf countries, particularly wealthy customers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Qatar and the UAE. What they found was above their expectations - great weather, mountain and sea resorts, great food, European architecture, exciting night life, casinos, international Lebanon hotels and their own language being spoken. All these elements have contributed to the success of the destination." Chris Moloney, chief operating officer, InterContinental Hotels Group, Middle East and Africa.

"Great fun when organizing your annual business conference in Lebanon! Charles Franchini, IBCS, Middle East and North Africa.

After years of unrest, Lebanon has regained its former reputation as «The Switzerland of the Middle East». Its mountains and its scenic beauty were almost untouched. Arrivals in Lebanon grew from 740,000 in 2000 to 1,400,000 last year, 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.

Geography

Location of Lebanon on the worldmapAs 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

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 stretching from 5 am until 8 PM.

Government

Lebanon is a democratic republic, and has a parliamentary system, as well as a cabinet headed by Prime Minister. Its constitution is based on the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, headed by a president elected every 6 years.

Transportation and Driving

Driving yourself around is most convenient, and for that you are provided with car rentals, with or without a driver. Traffic of course can be a hassle, but the country will make it up to you through other ways.

Taxis can be caught on the street sporadically, normally requiring 1000LL or 2000LL, wwhich is aboout $1.00.

Bus services are available to various destinations. However, don’t count on them if you have an appointment. They have no particular timings and they travel around randomly.

Lebanese currency and banking

Movements 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). One US Dollar is almost equal to LL 1500, depending on the exchange rate.

Most Lebanese perform their transactions in US Dollars. The mobile phone service companies are privately owned, but somehow controlled by the government. They use cents and dollars to charge their customers mobile accounts. All ski resorts accept US Dollars.

Credit cards and Traveler checks

Visitors may use credit cards in major establishments, such as Master Card, American Express, Diners Club and Visa. Electric Current

The electrical current is 220 Volts, but some areas are still on the 110 Volts level.

Telecommunication

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.

Mobile phones are widely available and the mobile GSM 900 network is operated by both Alfa and MTC Touch. Visitors may buy a "limited time" GSM card for their mobile phone starting at 30,000LL (US$20).

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 hotels.

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, Al Akhbar, Al Balad 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.

Religion

Christianity and Islam are the main religions. Christian denominations, mainly Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Armenian and Protestant account for approximately 40 percent. Islam (predominantly Shi'ite) accounts for another 40 percent of the population's beliefs. Other religions account for the remaining 20 percent.

Holidays

Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East that follows the western Sunday weekend style. The country celebrates both Christian and Muslim holidays.

Alcohol

Although Lebanon and its fun activities are enough to get you pumping, Alcohol and beverages are served and available in stores.