Beirut (Arabic: , French: Beyrouth) is the capital city of Lebanon with a population of approximately 2.1 million people in its metropolitan area. The city is on a relatively small headland jutting into the east Mediterranean. It is by far the biggest city in Lebanon. Due to Lebanon’s small size the capital has always held the status as the only true cosmopolitan city in the country, and ever since the independence, has been the commercial and financial hub of Lebanon. 20km to its North is Jounieh, a city very closely associated with Beirut.Charles Helou Station lies approximately one kilometer east of Nejmeh Square, on Charles Helou Avenue, facing the Beirut Port. From there you can take the city buses or hop onto the larger coaches that link Beirut with the neighboring cities. The two other main hubs are Cola in the south of the city and Dora in the north-eastern suburb of the same name.Beirut has survived a rough history, falling under the occupation of one empire after another,. Originally named Bart, “The Wells” by the Phoenicians, Beirut’s history goes back more than 5000 years. Excavations in the downtown area have unearthed layers of Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman civilizations.Following World War II, Lebanon gained its independence from France and Beirut became its capital in 1943 – Bechara El-Khoury and Riad El-Solh, Lebanon’s first president and prime minister respectively, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and national heroes. Beirut thrived as a major commercial and tourist center of the Middle East. It was a top destination among wealthy Arabs and European tourists, due to Beirut’s unique geography, climate, diverse culture, and freedom. Beirut was seen as the “European gateway to the Middle East” and vice versa, and was often called the “Paris of the Middle East”.The city has severely suffered from a 15 year long civil war that ravaged the country from 1975 to 1990. It quickly was divided in a Western part controlled by Pan-Arabist Lebanese and Palestinian militias inclined to socialism and an eastern part under control of nationalist Lebanese militias leaning towards fascism. The front line was for most of the time along the roads Damascus Street and Old Saida Street. The central area of the city, previously the focus of much of the commercial and cultural activities, became a no-man’s land. You can still find many buildings damaged or completely ruined especially on the verges of Downtown but there are hardly any efforts to keep the memory of those bloody days alive. The conflict is often misleadingly portrayed as a religious conflict that divided the city in a Muslim and a Christian part. While it is true that there were massacres along religious lines many Christians lived in West Beirut throughout the war and vice versa and most militias had Christian, Muslim, and – at least some communist factions – atheist members. Since the end of the war in 1989, the people of Lebanon have been rebuilding Beirut. The city has undertaken an aggressive rebuilding policy. It has been working hard to regain its status as a tourist, cultural and intellectual center in the Middle East which it has lost to Cairo as well as a center for commerce, fashion and media which is dominated by Dubai and other rich Gulf states. However Beirut with the rest of the Middle East has gained momentum.Most areas of Beirut have a friendly atmosphere and Beirutis have a reputation for being very polite, friendly, sociable and outgoing. The locals are used to the sight of foreigners and many of them are happy to get to know you and even to show you around the city.Sectarianism is still prevalent in Lebanon, as a result of the Ottoman religious system and of the French colonial policy of divide and rule, which is both reflected in the political system and social networks. Many Lebanese, especially Christians and the middle and upper classes, identify culturally with Europeans, particularly the French, and some denying Arab identity altogether. Many of them, and this might especially true for Christians, prefer to identify themselves as Phoenician (referring to their ancestral roots in ancient Phoas Chrienicia.) Many Muslim Lebanese on the other hand identify culturally and ethnically with other Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East. A minority claims to be Syrian in the sense of a Greater Syrian civilization stretching from Cyprus and Sinai to west Iran and from southern Turkey to northern Saudi Arabia.Most Beirutis love going out and the city offers some of the best night life in the whole region. If (and when) you go out at night, depending on the venue, dressing up well will most certainly get you some respect. The locals like to see that foreigners are doing what they can to fit in. Expect to be offered a drink or a cigarette. Alcohol is very cheap in shops and supermarkets, yet in night venues, prices can easily exceed European standards (aka: 8,000L.L/Beer, 15,000L.L/Cocktail)).Smoking is very common in Beirut and a large portion of the people smoke. A ban on smoking indoors in public places began September 3, 2012 but it’s not easy to find a smoke-free place that enforces the laws.Beirut enjoys Mediterranean climate. Come in April to June for warm, dry days and long, cool evenings (15 25C). Temperatures in July and August rise above 30C and humidity can be somewhat overwhelming. Heat waves affect Beirut and temperatures can get above 35C (95 F) and the record high is 41C (106 F). A room with air conditioning can help to escape the heat and to sleep easily as even the night temperatures hardly drop below 25C. The wettest months are December to February and can bring thunderstorms with lots of rain for days so bring a good coat and umbrella. Winter on the other hand is pleasantly warm with temperatures ranging between 11C (52 F) to 17C (63 F) but it’s also really wet with more than 650 milimeters (29.5 inches) falling between November and March. Nights can get cold especially in the western suburbs due to the higher altitude but even in the city center temperatures can get as low as 5C (42 F) once or twice every year. The record low is at exactly 0C (32 F). Snow is extremely rare in the city center but it can fall more easily in the western suburbs up in the mountains. Lebanon’s ski season runs from December to April.Due to Lebanon’s diverse religions and sects, many public holidays are celebrated, some of which more than once:New Year’s Day, Epiphany and Armenian Christmas (6 Jan), Eid al-Adha Feast of Sacrifice, celebrating the last day of Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Al Hijrah Islamic New Year, Feast of St Maroun (9 Feb), Eid Meelad an-Nabi The Prophet’s (Muhammad) Anniversary, Good Friday and Easter Monday (Apr), Labour Day (1 May). Martyrs’ Day (6 May), Liberation of the South (25 May), Assumption (15 Aug), Eid al-Fitr – Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, All Saints’ Day (1 Nov), Independence Day (22 Nov), Christmas Day (25 Dec). Based on the lunar calendar, Islamic holidays move forward approximately 11 days every Western year.Anything goes in Beirut. Shorts and T-shirts are perfect for the summer heat, for both men and women, while heavier clothing is necessary during the winter. You should cover up if visiting religious sites, such as mosques and churches. Some neighborhoods are more conservative than others, so bear that in mind when exploring the city. Going out at night is a smart affair, so dress fashionably to fit in, although this does not mean dressing up in a suit

Airport: BEY Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport Cities in Latvia

Country: Lebanon