The Republic of Lebanon is an independent republic that lies on the Eastern Shore of the Mediterranean Sea surrounded by Syria to the north and west and bordered by Israel to the south. The country is 180 km from north to south and 50 km from east to west. The capital is Beirut and other major cities include Tripoli, Byblos and Tyre.
The official languages are Arabic and French, however English is spoken amongst business circles and Armenian is also spoken. The local currency is the Lebanese Pound broken into 100 piastres.
Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions after the 16-year civil war that ended in 1991. Under the Ta’if Accord—the blueprint for national reconciliation—the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater say in the political process. Lebanon is trying to recover after the war and construction is widespread however the country is still used as ground for other Middle Eastern conflicts. Shells are still occasionally being fired in both directions across the Israel-Lebanon border, though the main political conflict of interests in Lebanon has currently reached a standoff.
The country’s main industries are agriculture, tourism and construction. The Bekaa area is a major wine-producing region. The country produces grapes, citrus fruits, vegetables, olives, tobacco, hemp and livestock.
The country also exports tobacco, chemicals, textiles and metal manufacturing products.
Lebanon has taxi and bus services that run up and down the length of the country. Road rules in Lebanon are generally non-existent and have no speed limits. The roads are in bad condition and can be fairly dangerous.
The country’s rail system is not running very frequently and there are no real plans to improve this. A growing number of airlines are starting to service Beirut again.
The telecommunication network was severely damaged during the war and rebuilding is well underway.
The south and south east of Lebanon is under United Nations and Israeli control and is closed to all visitors as it is the scene of constant unrest and warfare.
The country’s international time zone is GMT + 2. The international dialing code is + 961. Beirut has an international airport. A growing number of airlines service Beirut, which has frequent connections to Europe, Africa, Asia and the rest of the Middle East. The national carrier, Middle East Airlines, also flies to Australia and Canada. If you have an Israeli stamp in your passport you will be denied entrance to Lebanon.
The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation lead to risk of contraction of Polio, typhoid, Malaria, yellow fever, cholera and rabies. Water is untreated and not safe to drink.