Capital of Lebanon
Top 10 Beirut related articles
- 1 Names
- 2 Prehistory
- 3 History
- 4 Geography
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Beirut Central District
- 7 Economy
- 8 Government
- 9 Education
- 10 Transportation
- 11 Culture
- 12 Twin towns and sister cities
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
Paris of the East
Location of Beirut within Lebanon
Beirut (Eastern Mediterranean)
Beirut (Arab world)
|• Governor||Marwan Abboud|
|• Mayor||Jamal Itani|
|• Capital city of Lebanon||19.8 km2 (7.6 sq mi)|
|• Metro||67 km2 (26 sq mi)|
|• Capital city of Lebanon||c. 361,366|
|• Metro||c. 2,200,000|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Area code(s)||+961 (01)|
|ISO 3166 code||LB-BA|
|Patron Saint||Saint George|
Beirut (// bay-ROOT; Arabic: بيروت, romanized:
Beirut is Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy, with many banks and corporations based in the city. Beirut is an important seaport for the country and region, and rated a Beta + World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Beirut was severely damaged by the Lebanese Civil War, and its cultural landscape underwent major reconstruction.
Beirut Intro articles: 7
The English name Beirut is an early transcription of the Arabic name Bayrūt (بيروت). The same name's transcription into French is Beyrouth, which was sometimes used during Lebanon's French occupation. The Arabic name derives from Phoenician Berot or Birut (𐤁𐤓𐤕 Brt). This was a modification of the Canaanite and Phoenician word be'rot, meaning "the wells", in reference to the site's accessible water table. The name is first attested in the 15th century BC, when it was mentioned in three Akkadian cuneiform tablets of the Amarna letters, letters sent by King Ammunira of Biruta to Amenhotep III or Amenhotep IV of Egypt. Biruta was also mentioned in the Amarna letters from King Rib-Hadda of Byblos.
The Greeks hellenised the name as Bērytós (Ancient Greek: Βηρυτός), which the Romans latinised as Berytus.[a] When it attained the status of a Roman colony, it was notionally refounded and its official name was emended to Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus to include its imperial sponsors.
Beirut Names articles: 21
Beirut was settled more than 5,000 years ago and the area had been inhabited for far longer. Several prehistoric archaeological sites have been discovered within the urban area of Beirut, revealing flint tools of sequential periods dating from the Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Paleolithic through the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
Beirut I (Minet el-Hosn) was listed as "the town of Beirut" (French: Beyrouth ville) by Louis Burkhalter and said to be on the beach near the Orient and Bassoul hotels on the Avenue des Français in central Beirut. The site was discovered by Lortet in 1894 and discussed by Godefroy Zumoffen in 1900. The flint industry from the site was described as Mousterian and is held by the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon.
Beirut II (Umm el-Khatib) was suggested by Burkhalter to have been south of Tarik el Jedideh, where P.E. Gigues discovered a Copper Age flint industry at around 100 metres (328 feet) above sea level. The site had been built on and destroyed by 1948.
Beirut III (Furn esh-Shebbak), listed as Plateau Tabet, was suggested to have been located on the left bank of the Beirut River. Burkhalter suggested that it was west of the Damascus road, although this determination has been criticised by Lorraine Copeland. P. E. Gigues discovered a series of Neolithic flint tools on the surface along with the remains of a structure suggested to be a hut circle. Auguste Bergy discussed polished axes that were also found at this site, which has now completely disappeared as a result of construction and urbanisation of the area.
Beirut IV (Furn esh-Shebbak, river banks) was also on the left bank of the river and on either side of the road leading eastwards from the Furn esh Shebbak police station towards the river that marked the city limits. The area was covered in red sand that represented Quaternary river terraces. The site was found by Jesuit Father Dillenseger and published by fellow Jesuits Godefroy Zumoffen, Raoul Describes and Auguste Bergy. Collections from the site were made by Bergy, Describes and another Jesuit, Paul Bovier-Lapierre. Many Middle Paleolithic flint tools were found on the surface and in side gullies that drain into the river. They included around 50 varied bifaces accredited to the Acheulean period, some with a lustrous sheen, now held at the Museum of Lebanese Prehistory. Henri Fleisch also found an Emireh point amongst material from the site, which has now disappeared beneath buildings.
Beirut V (Nahr Beirut, Beirut River) was discovered by Dillenseger and said to be in an orchard of mulberry trees on the left bank of the river, near the river mouth, and to be close to the railway station and bridge to Tripoli. Levallois flints and bones and similar surface material were found amongst brecciated deposits. The area has now been built on.
Beirut VI (Patriarchate) was a site discovered while building on the property of the Lebanese Evangelical School for Girls in the Patriarchate area of Beirut. It was notable for the discovery of a finely styled Canaanean blade javelin suggested to date to the early or middle Neolithic periods of Byblos and which is held in the school library.
Beirut VII, the Rivoli Cinema and Byblos Cinema sites near the Bourj in the Rue el Arz area, are two sites discovered by Lorraine Copeland and Peter Wescombe in 1964 and examined by Diana Kirkbride and Roger Saidah. One site was behind the parking lot of the Byblos Cinema and showed collapsed walls, pits, floors, charcoal, pottery and flints. The other, overlooking a cliff west of the Rivoli Cinema, was composed of three layers resting on limestone bedrock. Fragments of blades and broad flakes were recovered from the first layer of black soil, above which some Bronze Age pottery was recovered in a layer of grey soil. Pieces of Roman pottery and mosaics were found in the upper layer. Middle Bronze Age tombs were found in this area, and the ancient tell of Beirut is thought to be in the Bourj area.
Beirut Prehistory articles: 46
The oldest settlement of Beirut was on an island in the river that, but the channel became silted up and it joined it to the mainland. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, and Ottoman remains.
The Phoenician port of Beirut was located between Rue Foch and Rue Allenby on the north coast. The port or harbour was excavated and reported on several years ago and now lies buried under the city. Another suggested port or dry dock was claimed to have been discovered around 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) to the west in 2011 by a team of Lebanese archaeologists from the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanese University. Controversy arose on 26 June 2012 when authorisation was given by Lebanese Minister of Culture Gaby Layoun for a private company called Venus Towers Real Estate Development Company to destroy the ruins (archaeological site BEY194) in the $500 million construction project of three skyscrapers and a garden behind Hotel Monroe in downtown Beirut. Two later reports by an international committee of archaeologists appointed by Layoun, including Hanz Curver, and an expert report by Ralph Pederson, a member of the institute of Nautical Archaeology and now teaching in Marburg, Germany, dismissed the claims that the trenches were a port, on various criteria. The exact function of site BEY194 may never be known, and the issue raised heated emotions and led to increased coverage on the subject of Lebanese heritage in the press.
In 140 BC, the Phoenician city was destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon in his conflict with Antiochus VII Sidetes for the throne of the Hellenistic Seleucid monarchy. Laodicea in Phoenicia was built upon the same site on a more conventional Hellenistic plan. Present-day Beirut overlies this ancient one, and little archaeology was carried out until after the civil war 1991. The salvage excavations after 1993 have yielded new insights into the layout and history of this period of Beirut's history. Public architecture included several areas and buildings.
Mid-1st-century coins from Berytus bear the head of Tyche, goddess of fortune; on the reverse, the city's symbol appears: a dolphin entwines an anchor. This symbol was later taken up by the early printer Aldus Manutius in 15th century Venice. After a state of civil war and decline the Seleucid Empire faced, King Tigranes the Great of the Kingdom of Armenia conquered Beirut and placed it under effective Armenian control. However, after the Battle of Tigranocerta, Armenia forever lost their holdings in Syria and Beirut was conquered by Roman general Pompey.
Laodicea was conquered by Pompey in 64 BC and the name Berytus was restored to it. The city was assimilated into the Roman Empire, soldiers were sent there, and large building projects were undertaken. From the 1st century BC, the Bekaa Valley served as a source of grain for the Roman provinces of the Levant and even for Rome itself. Under Claudius, Berytus expanded to reach the Bekaa Valley and include Heliopolis (Baalbek). The city was settled by Roman colonists who promoted agriculture in the region.
As a result of this settlement, the city quickly became Romanized, and the city became the only mainly Latin-speaking area in the Syria-Phoenicia province. In 14 BC, during the reign of Herod the Great, Berytus became a colony, one of four in the Syria-Phoenicia region and the only one with full Italian rights (ius Italicum) exempting its citizens from imperial taxation. Beirut was considered the most Roman city in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the veterans of two Roman legions were established in the city of Berytus by emperor Augustus: the 5th Macedonian and the 3rd Gallic Legions.
Berytus's law school was widely known; two of Rome's most famous jurists, Papinian and Ulpian, were natives of Phoenicia and taught there under the Severan emperors. When Justinian assembled his Pandects in the 6th century, a large part of the corpus of laws was derived from these two jurists, and in AD 533 Justinian recognised the school as one of the three official law schools of the empire.
In 551, a major earthquake struck Berytus, causing widespread damage. The earthquake reduced cities along the coast to ruins and killed many, 30,000 in Berytus alone by some measurements. As a result, the students of the law school were transferred to Sidon.
Salvage excavations since 1993 have yielded new insights in the layout and history of Roman Berytus. Public architecture included several bath complexes, Colonnaded Streets, a circus and theatre; residential areas were excavated in the Garden of Forgiveness, Martyrs' Square and the Beirut Souks.
Beirut was conquered by the Muslims in 635. Prince Arslan bin al-Mundhir founded the Principality of Sin el Fil in Beirut in 759. 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 (in modern-day Israel) during the Middle Ages. From 1110 to 1291, the town and Lordship of Beirut was part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The city was taken by Saladin in 1187 and recaptured in 1197 by Henry I of Brabant as part of the German Crusade of 1197. John of Ibelin, known as the Old Lord of Beirut, was granted the lordship of the city in 1204. He rebuilt the city after its destruction by the Ayyubids and also built the House of Ibelin palace in Beirut.
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. One of them, Fakhr-al-Din II, fortified it early in the 17th century, but the Ottomans reclaimed it in 1763. With the help of Damascus, Beirut successfully broke Acre's monopoly on Syrian maritime trade and for a few years supplanted it as the main trading centre in the region. During the succeeding epoch of rebellion against Ottoman hegemony in Acre under Jezzar Pasha and Abdullah Pasha, Beirut declined to a small town with a population of about 10,000 and was an object of contention between the Ottomans, the local Druze, and the Mamluks. After Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt captured Acre in 1832, Beirut began its revival.
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. This boom in cross-regional trade allowed certain groups, such as the Sursock family, to establish trade and manufacturing empires that further strengthened Beirut's position as a key partner in the interests of imperial dynasties. 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 religious composition of Beirut itself, sowing the seeds of future sectarian 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 realisation amongst the city's residents that commerce, trade, and prosperity depended on domestic stability. After petitions by the local bourgeois, the governor of Syria Vilayet Mehmed Rashid Pasha authorized the establishment of the Beirut Municipal Council, the first municipality established in the Arab provinces of the Empire. The council was elected by an assembly of city notables and played an instrumental role governing the city through the following decades.
Vilayet of Beirut
In 1888, Beirut was made capital of a vilayet (governorate) in Syria, including the sanjaks (prefectures) Latakia, Tripoli, Beirut, Acre and Bekaa. By this time, Beirut had grown into a cosmopolitan city and had close links with Europe and the United States. It also became a centre of missionary activity that spawned educational institutions, such as the American University of Beirut. Provided with water from a British company and gas from a French one, silk exports to Europe came to dominate the local economy. After French engineers established a modern harbour in 1894 and a rail link across Lebanon to Damascus and Aleppo in 1907, much of the trade was carried by French ships to Marseille. French influence in the area soon exceeded that of any other European power. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica reported a population consisting of 36,000 Muslims, 77,000 Christians, 2,500 Jews, 400 Druze and 4,100 foreigners. At the start of the 20th century, Salim Ali Salam was one of the most prominent figures in Beirut, holding numerous public positions including deputy from Beirut to the Ottoman parliament and President of the Municipality of Beirut. Given his modern way of life, the emergence of Salim Ali Salam as a public figure constituted a transformation in terms of the social development of the city.
In his 2003 book entitled Beirut and its Seven Families, Dr. Yussef Bin Ahmad Bin Ali Al Husseini says:
The seven families of Beirut are the families who bonded among each other and made the famous historical agreement with the governor of the Syrian Coast in 1351 to protect and defend the city of Beirut and its shores, and chase the invaders and stop their progress towards it.
Capital of Lebanon
After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, 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. About 60,000 people died in the first two years of the war (1975–1976), and much of the city was devastated. A particularly destructive period was the 1978 Syrian siege of Achrafiyeh, the main Christian district of Beirut. Syrian troops relentlessly shelled the eastern quarter of the city, but Christian militias defeated multiple attempts by Syria's elite forces to capture the strategic area in a three-month campaign later known as the Hundred Days' War.
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, whose urban agglomeration was mainly constituted during war time through an anarchic urban development stretching along the littoral corridor and its nearby heights. By the start of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the city had somewhat regained its status as a tourist, cultural and intellectual centre 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 hosted both the Asian Club Basketball Championship and the Asian Football Cup, and has hosted the Miss Europe pageant nine times: 1960–1964, 1999, 2001–2002, and 2016.
Rafic Hariri was assassinated in 2005 near the Saint George Hotel in Beirut. A month later about one million people gathered for an opposition rally in Beirut. The Cedar Revolution was the largest rally in Lebanon's history at that time. The last Syrian troops withdrew from Beirut on 26 April 2005, and the two countries established diplomatic relations on 15 October 2008.
During the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli bombardment caused damage in many parts of Beirut, especially the predominantly Shiite southern suburbs of Beirut. On 12 July 2006, the "Operation Truthful Promise" carried out by Hezbollah ended with 8 Israeli deaths and 6 injuries. In response, the IDF targeted Hezbollah's main media outlets. There were then artillery raids against targets in southern Lebanon, and the Israeli cabinet held Beirut responsible for the attacks. Then on 13 July 2006 Israel began implementing a naval and air blockade over Lebanon; during this blockade Israel bombed the runways at Beirut International Airport and the major Beirut-Damascus highway in Eastern Lebanon.
In May 2008, after the government decided to disband Hezbollah's communications network (a decision it later rescinded), violent clashes broke out briefly between government allies and opposition forces, before control of the city was handed over to the Lebanese Army. After this a national dialogue conference was held in Doha at the invitation of the Prince of Qatar. The conference agreed to appoint a new president of Lebanon and to establish a new national government involving all the political adversaries. As a result of the Doha Agreement, the opposition's barricades were dismantled and so were the opposition's protest camps in Martyrs' Square. On 19 October 2012, a car bomb killed eight people in the Beirut's neighbourhood of Achrafiyeh, including Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan, chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Internal Security Forces. In addition, 78 others were wounded in the bombing. It was the largest attack in the capital since 2008. On 27 December 2013, a car bomb exploded in the Central District killing at least five people, including the former Lebanese ambassador to the U.S. Mohamad Chatah, and wounding 71 others.
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.
On 4 August 2020, a massive explosion in the Port of Beirut resulted in the death of at least 203 people (with an additional three missing) and the wounding of more than 6,500. Foreigners from at least 22 countries were among the casualties. Furthermore, at least 108 Bangladeshis were injured in the blasts, making them the most affected foreign community. The cause of the blast is believed to be from government-confiscated and stored ammonium nitrate. As many as 300,000 people have been left homeless by the explosion. Protesters in Lebanon called on the government on 8 August 2020 for the end of the alleged negligence that resulted in the 4 August explosion. On 10 August 2020, as a result of the protests, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced his resignation. Weeks later, a huge fire erupted in an oil and tyre warehouse in the port's duty-free zone, on 10 September 2020.
Beirut History articles: 130
Beirut sits on a peninsula extending westward into the Mediterranean Sea. 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.
Beirut has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) characterised by mild days and nights, as its coastal location allows temperatures to be moderated by the sea. Autumn and spring are warm, but short. Winter is mild and rainy. Summer is prolonged, hot and muggy. 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.
The average annual rainfall is 825 millimetres (32.5 in), with the large majority of it falling from October to April. Much of the autumn and spring rain falls in heavy downpours on a limited number of days, but in winter it is spread more evenly over many days. Summer receives very little rainfall, if any. Snow is rare, except in the mountainous eastern suburbs, where snowfall occurs due to the region's high altitudes. Hail (which can often be heavy) occurs a few times per year, mostly during winter.
|Climate data for Beirut International Airport|
|Record high °C (°F)||27.9
|Average high °C (°F)||17.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||14.0
|Average low °C (°F)||11.2
|Record low °C (°F)||0.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||154
|Average rainy days||12||10||8||5||2||2||0.04||0.1||1||4||7||11||62|
|Average relative humidity (%)||64||64||64||66||70||71||72||71||65||62||60||63||66|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||131||143||191||243||310||348||360||334||288||245||200||147||2,940|
|Source 1: Pogodaiklimat.ru|
|Source 2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun 1931–1960)|
|18.5 °C (65.3 °F)||17.5 °C (63.5 °F)||17.5 °C (63.5 °F)||18.5 °C (65.3 °F)||21.3 °C (70.3 °F)||24.9 °C (76.8 °F)||27.5 °C (81.5 °F)||28.5 °C (83.3 °F)||28.1 °C (82.6 °F)||26.0 °C (78.8 °F)||22.6 °C (72.7 °F)||20.1 °C (68.2 °F)|
Lebanon, especially Beirut and its suburbs, suffered a massive garbage crisis, mainly from July 2015 up to March 2016. The issue began when authorities shut down the main landfill site originally used for Beirut's garbage south-east of the city and failed to provide any alternative solutions for months. As a result, garbage mounted in the streets in Greater Beirut and caused protests to erupt, which sometimes invoked police action. This problem was commonly blamed on the country's political situation. This garbage crisis birthed a movement called "You Stink" which was directed at the country's politicians. In March 2016, the government finally came up with a so-called temporary solution to establish two new landfills East and South of the city to store the garbage, while several municipalities across the country, in an unprecedented move, began recycling and managing waste more efficiently, building waste-management facilities and relying on themselves rather than the central government. Moreover, Beirut has a lack of green areas with just two main public gardens (sanayeh and horch Beirut). In fact, concrete roofs cover 80% of the capital area.
Quarters and sectors
Beirut is divided into 12 quarters (quartiers):
- Dar Mreisse
- Mazraa (with the neighbourhood Badaro)
- Medawar (with the neighbourhood Mar Mikhaël)
- Minet El Hosn
- Moussaitbeh (with Ramlet al-Baida)
- Ras Beirut
- Zuqaq al-Blat
These quarters are divided into 59 sectors (secteurs).
Badaro is an edgy, bohemian style neighbourhood, within the green district of Beirut (secteur du parc) which also include the Beirut Hippodrome and the Beirut Pine Forest and the French ambassador's Pine Residence. It is one of Beirut's favourite hip nightlife destination.
Two of the twelve official Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are located in the southern suburbs of Beirut: Bourj el-Barajneh and Shatila. There is also one within its municipal boundaries: Mar Elias.
Southern suburban districts include Chiyah, Ghobeiry (Bir Hassan, Jnah and Ouzai are part of the Ghobeiry municipality), Haret Hreik, Burj al Barajneh, Laylake-Mreijeh, Hay al Sillum and Hadath. Eastern suburbs include Burj Hammoud, Sin el Fil, Dekwane and Mkalles. Hazmiyeh is also considered as an eastern suburb with its close proximity to the capital. Of the 15 unregistered or unofficial refugee camps, Sabra, which lies adjacent to Shatila, is also located in southern Beirut and was the scene of a massacre during the civil war.
People in Lebanon often use different names for the same geographic locations, and few people rely on official, government-provided street numbers. Instead, historic and commercial landmarks are more common.