Beirut – Pearl of the Middle East
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon with a population ranging from some 1 million to over 2 million as of 2010.
Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon’s coastline with the Mediterranean sea, it serves as the country’s largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan Area, which consists of the city and its suburbs. The first mention of this metropolis is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters, dating to the 15th century BC, and the city has been continuously inhabited since.
Beirut holds Lebanon’s seat of government, and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy with its city centre, Hamra, Verdun, and Ashrafieh-based corporate firms and banks. The city is the focal point of the region’s cultural life, renowned for its press, theatres, cultural activities, and nightlife. After the destructive Lebanese civil war, Beirut underwent major reconstruction and the redesigned historic city centre, marina, pubs and nightlife districts have once again rendered it a tourist attraction.
Beirut was named the top place to visit in 2009 among the “44 top places” recommended by The New York Times. It was also listed as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in 2009. The cosmopolitan flair of modern-day Beirut, the gastronomic renown of the country’s food and wine, and an educated and outward-looking population complement a country that is both traditional and progressive in outlook.
Beirut is a vibrant, stylish metropolis, with all of the fun, fashion, and flair that a city lover could look for. All over the city, sleek, modern buildings are springing up, alongside arabesque Ottoman and French-style buildings, giving Beirut a unique style that is all its own.
Perched on the shore of the blue Mediterranean Sea, Beirut has a balmy, mild climate that is perfect for year round visits. From sipping coffee at an open-air café, to shopping for cutting edge fashions at a boutique shop, to exploring the treasures of the country’s National Museum, to dancing the night away at a trendy club, Beirut has something to offer for everyone.
The official Lebanese currency is the Lebanese pound or lira (LL). U.S. dollars are used widely throughout the country.
While Arabic is Lebanon’s official language, English and French are widely spoken. Most Lebanese speak at least two or three languages, and visitors will find no problems communicating.