27 interesting facts about Lebanon

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The most interesting facts about Lebanon, from one of the world’s oldest countries to a capital city once known as the “Paris of the East”.

Many interesting facts about Lebanon stem from its ancient history (Shutterstock)
Many interesting facts about Lebanon stem from its ancient history (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Lebanese Republic
Population: 5,469,612
Area: 10,400 sq km
Capital city: Beirut
Major languages: Arabic, French, English, Armenian
Major religions: Muslim, Christian, Druze
Time zone: UTC+2 (Eastern European Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Lebanon

1. Lebanon is a small country in the Middle East bordered by Syria, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea.
– Source: Britannica

2. Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest countries with thousands of years of history.
– Source: National Geographic

3. Lebanon has been permanently settled since around 10,000 BC.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Cedar trees on the slopes of Mount Lebanon
Cedar trees on the slopes of Mount Lebanon (Shutterstock)

4. The name Lebanon comes from the Semitic origin word “lbn” which means “white” in reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

5. Lebanon is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible – somewhere between 65 and 75 times – often in reference to Mount Lebanon and its famous cedar trees.
– Source: New York Times

6. Lebanon was ruled by a number of ancient empires including the Phoenician, Akkadian, Egyptian, Mitanni, Hittite, Babylonian, Persian Greek and Roman.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The ancient city ruins of Baalbek
The ancient city ruins of Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis (Shutterstock)

7. For over 400 years (1516-1918), Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire.
– Source: BBC News

8. In 1920 following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Lebanon was ruled by France, which created the State of Greater Lebanon.
– Source: BBC News

9. Lebanon declared independence in 1946.
– Source: BBC News

10. The Lebanese flag is horizontally striped red-white-red with a green cedar tree in the centre. Historically, red and white have been associated with the Kassite and the Yemenite clans that have existed for more than 1,000 years. The cedar tree, mentioned in the Bible as a symbol of strength and wealth, has long been associated with Lebanese Christians.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Lebanon
The flag of Lebanon (Shutterstock)

11. Lebanon is the third smallest country in the Middle East after Bahrain and the Palestinian Territories.
– Source: World Bank

12. Despite its size, Lebanon is home to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites including four ancient cities (Anjar, Baalbek, Byblos and Tyre) and the Qadisha valley and its Christian monastic settlements.
– Source: UNESCO

13. The most famous is Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis or ‘Sun City’. Baalbek is the most spectacular ancient site in Lebanon, “one of the finest examples of Imperial Roman architecture” and is arguably the best-preserved ancient site in the Middle East.
– Source: Lonely Planet, UNESCO

14. Byblos, one of the oldest Phoenician cities, has been inhabited since the Neolithic period (10,000-4,500 BC). Its buildings date back 8000 years and demonstrate several millennia of constructions.
– Source: UNESCO

The city of Byblos
The city of Byblos (Shutterstock)

15. The Phoenician city of Tyre is supposedly where purple dye was invented. According to legend, purple pigment was discovered and reproduced in Tyre, although its use was initially reserved for royalty and nobility.
– Source: UNESCO

16. Lebanon is one of the highest cigarette consumers in the world with over 2,000 cigarettes smoked per person per year.
– Source: The Tobacco Atlas

17. During the 1960s, Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was known as the “Paris of the East” due to its image as a playground for the world’s most affluent tourists.
– Source: Lonely Planet, CNN

Beirut (Shutterstock)

18. Legend has it that Beirut has been rebuilt from the ashes seven times, making it an “urban phoenix in mythology”.
– Source: National Geographic

19. The city’s name derives from the Canaanite or Phoenician word “ber’ot,” which means “the wells” or “fountain,” referencing the area’s accessible water table.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

20. In 2020, a massive explosion in Beirut killed at least 200 people, injured over 6,000 and levelled a huge area of the city. The blast – estimated at one-twentieth of that of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima – was caused by the ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a port warehouse
– Source: The Guardian

Damage from the explosion in Beirut
Damage from the explosion in Beirut (Shutterstock)

21. From 1975 to 1990, Lebanon was embroiled in a civil war. By the end of the conflict, over 100,000 people had died and nearly 1,000,000 had been displaced. Both Syria and Israel also got involved in the war with their troops occupying parts of Lebanon until 2000 (Israel) and 2005 (Syria).
– Source: Britannica

22. Tied with Thailand, Lebanon has the world’s third-highest number of public holidays. With 16 public days of holiday per year, only India and Colombia with 18, have more.
– Source: The Telegraph

23. Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest wine-producing regions. Phoenicians are believed to have transported their grapevines to the area from as early as 3000 BC. The region was reportedly known for its wine well into the Middle Ages.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Bradt

Vineyards in Lebanon
Vineyards in Lebanon (Shutterstock)

24. Lebanon is part of an area known as the Fertile Crescent, also known as the “Cradle of Civilization”. The Fertile Crescent covers a roughly crescent-shaped area of fertile land that also includes parts of present-day Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Cyprus.
– Source: History Channel

25. In total, Lebanon is the world’s fifth-largest receiver of refugees. In 2019, it received 1,392,174 refugees. As such, it also ranks highly for net migration.
– Source: World Bank

26. Lebanon is one of the world’s worst countries for gender equality when measured by the relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politic. In 2020, it ranked as the ninth-worst country.
– Source: Global Gender Gap Report

27. Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. There are an estimated 1.5 million Syrian, 200,000 Palestinian, 16,000 Ethiopian, Iraqi, Sudanese and other origin refugees in Lebanon.
– Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

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