Beirut city skyline in the early 2000s
|Nickname(s): Paris of the East|
|Motto(s): Beirut, mother of laws
(Latin: Berytus Nutrix Legum)
|• Mayor||Jamal Itani|
|• City||19.8 km2 (7.6 sq mi)|
|• Metro||67 km2 (26 sq mi)|
|• City||c. 361,366 |
|• Metro||c. 2,200,000 |
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|ISO 3166 code||LB-BA|
|Patron Saint||Saint George|
Beirut (Arabic: بيروت Bayrūt pronunciation (help·info), French: Beyrouth) is the capital and largest city of Lebanon. No recent population census has been done but 2007 estimates ranged from slightly more than 1 million to 2.2 million as part of Greater Beirut. Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, Beirut is the country's largest and main seaport.
It is one of the oldest cities in the world, inhabited more than 5,000 years ago. The first historical mention of Beirut is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters dating from the 15th century BC.
Beirut is Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy, with most banks and corporations based in its Central District, Badaro, Rue Verdun, Hamra, Ryad el Soloh street, and Ashrafieh. Following the destructive Lebanese Civil War, Beirut's cultural landscape underwent major reconstruction. Identified and graded for accountancy, advertising, banking/finance and law, Beirut is ranked as a Beta World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
- 1 Archaeology and prehistory
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Transportation
- 6 Culture
- 7 Twin towns and sister cities
- 8 Foreign opinion
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Archaeology and prehistory
Several prehistoric archaeological sites were discovered within the urban area of Beirut, revealing flint tools of sequential periods dating from the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic through the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
Beirut I, or Minet el Hosn, was listed as "Beyrouth ville" by Louis Burkhalter and said to be on the beach near the Orent 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, or 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 or 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 criticized 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 urbanization of the area.
Beirut IV, or 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. A large number of 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, or 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, or 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 Néolithique Ancien or Néolithique Moyen periods of Byblos and which is held in the school library.
Beirut VII, or 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.
The Phoenician port of Beirut was located between Rue Foch and Rue Allenby on the north coast. The port or harbor 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 ~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 authorization 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 at Marburg in Germany, dismissed the claims that the trenches were a port, on various criteria. The exact function of site BEY194 may now never be discovered, and the issue raised heated emotions and led to increased coverage on the subject of Lebanese heritage in the press.
Beirut was settled more than 5,000 years ago. Its name derives from the Canaanite-Phoenician be'erot ("wells"), referring to the underground water table that is still tapped by the local inhabitants for general use. Another explanation is that the city was named after the Phoenician daughter of Adonis and Aphrodite, Beroe. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Ottoman remains. The first historical reference to Beirut dates from the 14th century BC, when it is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets of the Amarna letters, three letters that Ammunira of Biruta (Beirut) sent to the pharaoh of Egypt. Biruta is also referenced in the letters from Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos (also known as Jbeil). The oldest settlement was on an island in the river that progressively silted up. The city was known in antiquity as Berytus. This name was taken in 1934 for the archaeological journal published by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Beirut.
In 140 B.C. the city was destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon in his contest with Antiochus VII Sidetes for the throne of the Macedonian Seleucid monarchy. Beirut was soon rebuilt on a more conventional Hellenistic plan and renamed Laodicea in Phoenicia (Greek: Λαοδίκεια ἡ ἐν Φοινίκῃ) or Laodicea in Canaan in honor of a Seleucid Laodice. The modern city overlies the ancient one, and little archaeology was carried out until after the end of the civil war in 1991. The post-war salvage excavations (1993-to date) have yielded new insights in the layout and history of this Hellenistic period. Public architecture included several areas and buildings
Mid-first-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.
Beirut was conquered by Pompey in 64 B.C. The city (named by the Romans Berytus) was assimilated into the Roman Empire, veteran soldiers were sent there, and large building projects were undertaken.
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 fifth Macedonian and the third Gallic. Consequently, the city quickly became fully Romanized: it was one of four Roman colonies in the Syria-Phoenicia region and the only one with full Ius Italicum (meaning: exemption from imperial taxation).
Its territory under Claudius reached the Bekaa valley and included Heliopolis (Baalbeck): it was the only area mostly latin-speaking in the Syria-Phoenicia region, because settled by Roman colonists who even promoted agriculture in the fertile lands around actual Yammoune. From the 1st century BC the Bekaa valley served as a source of grain for the Roman provinces of the Levant and even for the same Rome
In 14 B.C., during the reign of Herod the Great, Berytus became a colonia and was named Colonia Iulia Augusta Felix Berytus. Its law school was widely known; two of Rome's most famous jurists, Papinian and Ulpian, both natives of Phoenicia, 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 533 AD Justinian recognized the school as one of the three official law schools of the empire. After the 551 Beirut earthquake the students were transferred to Sidon.
The last post-war salvage excavations (1993-to date) have yielded new insights in the layout and history of Roman Berytus. Public architecture included several bath complexes, colonnaded streets, a circus and theater; 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 AD. 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 during the Middle Ages. From 1110 to 1291, the town and Lordship of Beirut was part of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. John of Ibelin, the Old Lord of Beirut (1179–1236) rebuilt the city after the battles with Saladin and also built the Ibelin family 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 ethnic composition of Beirut itself, sowing the seeds of future ethnic 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 realization amongst the city's residents that commerce, trade, and prosperity depended on domestic stability.
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 harbor 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.
These families are:
- The current Daouk Family
- The current Mneimneh Family
- The current Sinno Family
- The current Kreidiyeh Family
- The current Itani Family
- The current Doughan Family
- Probably the current Houry Family
All other families of Beirut are considered to have descended from one of those seven main branches, such as Nahhas, Yanout Inkidar, Hajjal, Hamza and others who derived from the Sinno Family (p. 14).
Sinno is considered to be an old family in Beirut, descending from the Muslim Leader Tareq Bin Ziyad.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, 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, and by the start of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict the city had somewhat regained its status as a tourist, cultural and intellectual center 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 been host to the Asian Club Basketball Championship and the Asian Football Cup and has hosted the Miss Europe pageant eight times, 1960–1964, 1999, 2001–2002.
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 Hezbollah, code named "True Promise"[clarification needed] 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. 
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) characterized by mild days and nights. Autumn and spring are warm, winter is mild and rainy, and summer can be virtually rainless. August is considered the only really hot muggy month, with a monthly average high temperature of 32 °C (90 °F), and January and February are the coldest months, with a monthly average low temperature of 11 °C (52 °F). 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 majority falling in winter, autumn and spring. 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 a large number of days. Summer receives very little rainfall, if any. Snow is rare, except in the mountainous eastern suburbs, where snowfall is common due to the region's high altitudes.
|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)||0.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||190.9
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||15||12||9||5||2||0||0||0||1||4||8||12||68|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69||68||67||69||71||71||73||73||69||68||66||68||69|
|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 and relative humidity)|
|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, specifically 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 for Beirut's garbage southeast 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.
Quarters and sectors
Beirut is divided into 12 quarters (quartiers):
- Dar Mreisse
- Mazraa (with the neighborhood Badaro)
- Medawar (with the neighborhood 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 neighborhood, 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 favorite 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. Of the fifteen unregistered or unofficial refugee camps, Sabra, which lies adjacent to Shatila, is also located in southern Beirut.
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.
No population census has been taken in Lebanon since 1932, and estimates of Beirut's population range from as low as 938,940 through 1,303,129 to as high as 2,200,000 as part of Greater Beirut.
Beirut is one of the most cosmopolitan and religiously diverse cities of Lebanon and all of the Middle East. The city boasts significant Muslim and Christian communities. In Beirut there are 18 recognized religious groups. At the end of the civil war the Copts became another recognized confession, bringing the total number to eighteen. The original seventeen included four Muslim sects: Sunni, Shi'a, 'Alawi, and Druze; Twelve Christian sects: Maronite Catholics, Melkite Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholics, and six smaller Christian sects, which are considered one group (Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Latin Catholics, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Copts); and Jews (very few remain in Lebanon today, but children of Lebanese Jewish parents may register as citizens at Lebanese Embassies.)
In Beirut the religious population is composed of:
- 65% Muslim (80% Sunni, 12% Shi’a, 8% Druze).
- 30% Christian (40% Maronites, 40% Greek Orthodox, 12% Catholics, 8% Armenian Christians).
- 5% other minorities}}, Unesco.org</ref> Beirut is also home to the Lebanese American University (LAU), which is also, together with many of its programs, accredited by US bodies and considered lately one of the top universities in the Middle East. LAU Beirut is also home to the American University of Science and Technology (AUST), University of Balamand, École Supérieure des Affaires (ESA), Beirut Arab University (BAU), Haigazian University (HU), Lebanese International University (LIU), as well as the Notre Dame University – Louaize (NDU), Université La Sagesse (ULS).
Notre Dame University (NDU)'s degrees are becoming more and more valuable with time. NDU received its accreditation from NIASC in 2015.
The Directorate General of Higher Education is responsible for managing the university colleges, university institutes and universities in Beirut and nationwide.
Among the private secondary schools in Beirut are, College Saint Joseph Antoura, Lycee Abdel Kader Grand Lycée Franco-Libanais, Lycée Franco-Libanais Verdun, American Community School, International College, Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour, College Melkart, Carmel Saint-Joseph, Collège Louise Wegmann, Rawdah High School, Saint Mary's Orthodox College, Collège Notre Dame de Nazareth, Collège du Sacré-Coeur Gemmayzé, Collège Protestant Français, Armenian Evangelical Central High School, German School of Beirut, and the Armenian Hamazkayin Arslanian College.
AUB established in 1866 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
AUST, established in Beirut in 1989
Global University in Beirut
The city's renovated airport is the Rafic Hariri International Airport, located in the southern suburbs. The Port of Beirut, one of the largest and most commercial in the eastern Mediterranean, is another port of entry. As a final destination, Lebanon can be reached by ferry from Cyprus via the nearby city of Jounieh or by road from Damascus via the Beqaa valley in the east.
Beirut has frequent bus connections to other cities in Lebanon and major cities in Syria such as Homs and its capital Damascus. There are a number of different companies providing public transport in Lebanon. The publicly owned buses are managed by Office des Chemins de Fer et des Transports en Commun (OCFTC – "Railway and Public Transportation Authority"). Buses for northern destinations and Syria leave from Charles Helou Station.
The ministry of transport and public works purchased an extra 250 intra and inter-buses in 2012 to better serve regions outside the capital as well as congestion-choked Beirut, hoping to lessen the use of private cars.
Beirut has also private buses that are provided by the Lebanese Commuting Company.
In 2017, Beirut introtuced a bike sharing service in certain areas of the city.
The culture of Beirut has evolved under the influence of many different peoples and civilizations, such as Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and French. The law school in downtown Beirut was one of the world's earliest and was considered to be a leading center of legal studies in the Eastern Roman Empire.
Beirut hosted the Francophonie and Arab League summits in 2002, and in 2007 it hosted the ceremony for the Prix Albert Londres, which rewards outstanding francophone journalists every year. The city also hosted the Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009. In the same year it was proclaimed World Book Capital by UNESCO.
Beirut has also been called the "party capital of the Arab world". Rue Monnot has an international reputation among clubbers, and Rue Gouraud in districts such as Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael have emerged as new hotspots for bar patrons and clubbers, as well as "The Alleyway" in Hamra Street.
The National Museum of Beirut is the principal museum of archaeology in Lebanon. It has about 1,300 exhibits ranging in date from prehistoric times to the medieval Mamluk period. The Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut is the third oldest museum in the Middle East, exhibiting a wide range of artifacts from Lebanon and neighboring countries. Sursock Museum was built by the illustrious Sursock family at the end of the 19th century as a private villa for Nicolas Sursock, and then donated to the Lebanese state upon his death. It now houses Beirut's most influential and popular art museum. The permanent collection shows a set of Japanese engravings, numerous works of Islamic art and classic Italian paintings, while temporary exhibitions are also shown throughout the year. The Robert Mouawad Private Museum near Beirut's Grand Serail exhibits Henri Pharaon's private collection of archaeology and antiques. 
Planet Discovery is a children's science museum with interactive experiments, exhibitions, performances, workshops and awareness competitions. The Saint Joseph University opened the Museum of Lebanese Prehistory in 2000, the first prehistory museum in the Arabic Middle East, displaying bones, stone tools and neolithic pottery collected by Jesuits.
In October 2013, Mim Museum, a private mineral museum, opened its doors to the public. It has on display some 2000 minerals from more than 70 countries. mim museum's collection is considered to be one of the world's paramount private collection for the variety and quality of its minerals. A didactic circuit, accompanied by screens showing films and scientific applications of mineralogy, will reveal a world of unsuspected marvels—priceless both from an aesthetic and scientific point of view. Mimodactylus libanensis “mimo”, the fossil of a pterodactyl is featured in a special wing. This one-of-a-kind complete specimen in the Middle-East was found in Lebanon. It is promoted by means of state-of-the-art modern techniques: a hologram, an auto-stereoscopic movie, a full-scale reconstitution and a game “fly with mimo” – an entertainment that delights children and adults. Moreover, mim hosts a thematic exhibition of 200 marine fossils. “Fish’n’Stone” was organized with the collaboration of Mémoire du Temps. Known throughout the world, those fossils were quarried in the Lebanese mountains. The history of the fossil formation is shown through an animation that submerses you in the marine life – a time capsule that takes you in a journey to some 100 million of years ago.
Beirut is a main center for the television, newspaper, and book publishing industries.
Television stations based in Beirut include Télé Liban, LBC, ÓTV (Orange TV), MTV Lebanon, Tele Lumiere (Catholic TV), Future TV, New TV, NBN, ANB and Saudi TV 1 on 33 UHF and MBC 1, MBC 4, MBC Action, Fox, Al Jazeera, Rotana, OSN First, OSN News, Al Yawm and Arabic Series Channel on 45 UHF.
English newspapers published in Beirut are The Daily Star, Executive Magazine (weekly), Beirut Online, Beirut Times (weekly) and Monday Morning.
The Lebanese capital hosted the Mediterranean Games in 1959, FIBA Asia Champions Cup in 1999, 2000, 2012, the AFC Asian Cup in 2000, and the FIBA Asia Cup in 2010. Beirut was the host city for the 6th Annual Games of the Jeux de la Francophonie in 2009. Beirut also hosted the Pan Arab Games in 1957, 1997, and did so again in 2015. In 2017, Beirut will also host the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
Other sports events in Beirut include the annual Beirut Marathon, hip ball, weekly horse racing at the Beirut Hippodrome, and golf and tennis tournaments that take place at Golf Club of Lebanon. Three out of the five teams in the Lebanese rugby league championship are based in Beirut.
Art and Fashion
There are hundreds of art galleries in Beirut and its suburbs. Every year hundreds of fine art students graduate from universities and institutions. Artist workshops exist all over Lebanon. The inauguration of the Beirut Art Center, a non-profit association, space and platform dedicated to contemporary art in Lebanon, in the Mkalles suburb of Beirut added to the number of exhibition spaces available in the city, with a screening and performance room, mediatheque, bookstore, cafe and terrace. Adjacent to the latter is the Ashkal Alwan Home Workspace, a venue hosting cultural events and educational programs.
A number of international fashion designers[who?] have displayed their work in big fashion shows. Most major fashion labels have shops in Beirut's shopping districts, and the city is home to a number of local fashion designers, some of whom like Elie Saab, Yara Farhat, Reem Acra, Zuhair Murad, Georges Chakra, Georges Hobeika, Jean Faris, Nicolas Jebran, Rabih Kayrouz and Abed Mahfouz have achieved international fame.
Beirut is also the home for a dynamic street art scene that has developed after the Lebanese Civil War, one of the most notable street artists is Yazan Halwani who is known to produce the largest murals on the walls of Beirut in areas such as Gemmayzeh, Hamra, Verdun and Achrafieh.
Twin towns and sister cities
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- Amman, Jordan
- Athens, Greece
- Baghdad, Iraq
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Isfahan, Iran
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Kuwait City, Kuwait
- Los Angeles, United States
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Moscow, Russia
- Quebec City, Canada
- São Paulo, Brazil
- Tripoli, Libya
- Tunis, Tunisia
- Yerevan, Armenia
Beirut was named the top place to visit by The New York Times in 2009, and as one of the ten liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet in the same year. According to a 2010 study by the American global consulting firm Mercer comparing high-end items such as upscale residential areas and entertainment venues, Beirut was ranked as the 4th most expensive city in the Middle East and 15th among the Upper Middle Income Countries included in the survey. Beirut came in first place regionally and 10th place internationally in a 2010 study by "EuroCost International" about the rental markets for high quality housing.
The 2011 MasterCard Index revealed that Beirut had the second-highest visitor spending levels in the Middle East and Africa, totaling $6.5 billion. Beirut was chosen in 2012 by Condé Nast Traveler as the best city in the Middle East. In 2013, Condé Nast Traveler ranked Beirut in the top 20 best cities in the world.
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ԵՐԵՎԱՆԻ ՔԱՂԱՔԱՊԵՏԱՐԱՆՊԱՇՏՈՆԱԿԱՆ ԿԱՅՔ
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