||Coat of arms
|Anthem: Kulluna lil-watan lil 'ula lil-'alam
(and largest city)
||Arabic; in some cases French
|Other common languages
||French, English, Armenian
||Speaker of Parliament
||from French-administered League of Nations mandate
||November 26, 1941
||November 22, 1943
||10,452 km² (166th)
4,035 sq mi
||February 2008 estimate
||$41.96 billion (84rd)
||▼ 0.772 (medium) (88th)
||Lebanese pound (LL) (
Lebanon (IPA: /ˈlɛbənɒn/ Arabic: لبنان Lubnān, French: Liban), officially the Republic of Lebanon or Lebanese Republic (الجمهورية اللبنانية), is a country in Western Asia, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. It is in proximity to Cyprus through the Mediterranean Sea. Due to its sectarian diversity, Lebanon evolved in 1943 a unique political system, known as confessionalism, based on a community-based power-sharing mechanism. It was created when the ruling French mandatory powers expanded the borders of the former autonomous Ottoman Mount Lebanon district that was mostly populated by Maronite Christians and Druze.
The flag of Lebanon features a cedar in green against a white backdrop, bounded by two horizontal red stripes along the top and bottom. This is a reference to the famous cedars of Lebanon, renowned throughout the region in antiquity. The red refers to the blood spilled throughout history to gain independence from invaders, the white refers to the snow on the Lebanese mountains.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the country enjoyed a period of relative calm and prosperity, driven by the tourism, agriculture, and banking sectors of the economy.  It is considered the banking capital of the Levant and was widely known as the "Switzerland of the East" due to its financial power and diversity. Lebanon also attracted large numbers of tourists to the point that the capital Beirut became widely referred to as the "Paris of Western Asia"
Immediately following the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. By early 2006, a considerable degree of stability had been achieved throughout much of the country, Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, and an increasing number of foreign tourists were pouring into Lebanon's resorts.
In 2006 however, the Israeli army attacked Lebanon with intense airstrikes and artillery fire alongside numerous ground incursions by Israeli forces - the extensive attacks were in response to a single incident of rocket fire in which two Israeli soldiers were taken prisoner by Hezbollah. The month long conflict caused significant civilian loss of life and serious damage to Lebanon's civil infrastructure (including Beirut's airport). The conflict lasted from July 12, 2006 until a cessation of hostilities call, by the UN Security Council, went into effect on August 14, 2006, the country's economy is still struggling to recover.
see also: 2006 Lebanon War
Faraya, Mount Lebanon.
The name Lebanon ("Lubnān" in standard Arabic; "Libnén" in the local dialect) comes from the Canaanite (and common West Semitic) root "LBN", meaning "white", which could be regarded as a reference to the snow-capped Mount Lebanon. Occurrences of the name have been found in three of the twelve tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh (2900 BC), the texts of the library of Ebla (2400 BC), and 71 times in the Old Testament. The name is even recorded in Ancient Egyptian as Rmnn, where r stood for Canaanite l.
Inscription in Greek on one of the tombs found in the Roman-Byzantine necropolis in Tyre
The earliest known settlements in Lebanon date back to earlier than 5000 BC. Archaeologists have discovered in Byblos, which is considered to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world, remnants of prehistoric huts with crushed limestone floors, primitive weapons, and burial jars which are evidence of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic fishing communities who lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea over 7,000 years ago.
Lebanon was the homeland of the Phoenicians, a seafaring people that spread across the Mediterranean before the rise of Cyrus the Great. After two centuries of Persian rule, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great attacked and burned Tyre, the most prominent Phoenician city. Throughout the subsequent centuries leading up to recent times, the country became part of numerous succeeding empires, among them Persian, Armenian, Assyrian, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, and Ottoman.
French mandate and independence
Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, in a region known as Greater Syria, until 1918 when the area became a part of the French Mandate of Syria following World War I. On September 1, 1920, France formed the State of Greater Lebanon as one of several ethnic enclaves within Syria. Lebanon was a largely Christian (mainly Maronite) enclave but also included areas containing many Muslims and Druzes. On September 1, 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. The Republic was afterward a separate entity from Syria but still administered under the French Mandate of Syria. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany. General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon.
After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under various political pressures from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle decided to recognize the independence of Lebanon. On November 26, 1941 General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on November 8, 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by throwing the new government into prison. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on November 22, 1943 and accepted the independence of Lebanon.
The allies kept the region under control until the end of World War II. The last French troops withdrew in 1946. Lebanon's unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Christian and its prime minister be Muslim.
Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil (including a civil conflict in 1958) interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade.
1948 Arab-Israeli war
Five years after gaining independence, Lebanon joined the Arab League to invade Israel shortly after its declaration of independence. during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It took over logistical support of the Arab Liberation Army after it found itself cut off from its bases in Syria while going on an attack on the newly-proclaimed Jewish State. The Lebanese army gained nothing during the war, and the Israeli army managed to conquer territory west of the Naphtali Mountains. After the defeat of the Arab Liberation Army in Operation Hiram, Lebanon accepted an armistice with Israel on March 23, 1949 and the conquered territory was returned. During the war, about 100,000 Palestinian refugees fled to Lebanon.
Civil war and beyond
- See also: 1982 Lebanon War
- See also: List of attacks in Lebanon
In 1975, civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War lasted fifteen years, devastating the country's economy, and resulting in the massive loss of human life and property. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 maimed. The war ended in 1990 with the signing of the Taif Agreement and parts of Lebanon were left in ruins.
During the civil war, the Palestine Liberation Organization used Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel. Lebanon was twice invaded and occupied by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1978 and 1982, the PLO expelled in the second invasion. Israel remained in control of Southern Lebanon until 2000, when there was a general decision, led by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to withdraw due to continuous guerrilla attacks executed by Hezbollah militants and a belief that Hezbollah activity would diminish and dissolve without the Israeli presence. The UN determined that the withdrawal of Israeli troops beyond the blue line was in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, although a border region called the Shebaa Farms is still disputed. Hezbollah declared that it would not stop its operations against Israel until this area was liberated.
On February 14, 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion near the Saint George Bay in Beirut. Leaders of the March 14 Alliance accused Syria of the attack due to its extensive military and intelligence presence in Lebanon, and the public rift between Hariri and Damascus over the Syrian-backed constitutional amendment extending pro-Syrian President Lahoud's term in office. Others, namely the March 8 Alliance and Syrian officials, claimed that the assassination may have been executed by the Israeli Mossad in an attempt to destabilize the country.
This incident triggered a series of demonstrations, known as Cedar Revolution, that demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1595 on April 7, 2005, which called for an investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri. The findings of the investigation were officially published on October 20, 2005 in the Mehlis report. Eventually, and under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing its 15,000-strong army troops from Lebanon. By April 26, 2005, all uniformed Syrian soldiers had already crossed the border back to Syria. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassination attempts that led to the loss of many prominent Lebanese figures.
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers leading to a conflict, known in Lebanon as July War, that lasted until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006.
In October 2007, Émile Lahoud finished his second term as President. The opposition conditioned its vote for a successor on a power-sharing deal, thus leaving the country without a president for over 6 months.
On May 09, 2008, Hezbollah and Amal militants, in an armed attack triggered by a government decision on Hezbollah's communications network, temporarily took over Western Beirut. The situation was described by the government as an attempted "coup".
On May 21, 2008, all major Lebanese parties signed an accord to elect Michel Suleiman as President, to form a national unity government with 11 out of 30 seats for the opposition, thus enabling it to veto decisions, and to adopt a new electoral law, based on the 1960 law with amendments for the 3 Beirut constituencies. The deal was brokered by an Arab League delegation, headed by the Emir and Foreign Minister of Qatar and the Secretary General of the Arab League, after 5 days of intense negotiations in Doha. Michel Suleiman was officially elected President on Sunday May 25, 2008 in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Syria and Iran as well as France and Saudi-Arabia.
Lebanon is a parliamentary, democratic republic, which implements a special system known as confessionalism. This system, allegedly meant to ensure that sectarian conflict is kept at bay, attempts to fairly represent the demographic distribution of religious sects in the governing body. As such, high-ranking offices in are reserved for members of specific religious groups. The President, for example, has to be a Maronite Catholic Christian, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Deputy Prime Minister an Orthodox Christian.
The Lebanese parliament
building at the Place de l'Étoile
This trend continues in the distribution of the 128 parliamentary seats, which are divided equally between Muslims and Christians. Prior to 1990, the ratio stood at 6:5 in favor of Christians; however, the Taif Accord, which put an end to the 1975-1990 civil war, adjusted the ratio to grant equal representation to followers of the two religions. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every four years, although for much of Lebanon’s recent history, civil war precluded the exercise of this right.
The parliament elects the president for a non-renewable six-year term. At the urging of the Syrian government, this constitutional rule has been bypassed by ad hoc amendment twice in recent history. Elias Hrawi’s term, which was due to end in 1995, was extended for three years. This procedure, denounced by pro-democracy campaigners, was repeated in 2004 to allow Émile Lahoud to remain in office until 2007.
The President appoints the Prime Minister on the nomination of the parliament (which is, in most cases, binding). Following consultations with the parliament and the President, the Prime Minister forms the Cabinet, which must also adhere to the sectarian distribution set out by confessionalism.
The Grand Serail
, the government headquarters in downtown Beirut
Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system consists of three levels: courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within their own communities, with rules on matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Lebanese law does not provide for Civil marriage (although it recognizes such marriages contracted abroad); efforts by former President Elias Hrawi to legalize civil marriage in the late 1990s floundered on objections mostly from Muslim clerics. Additionally, Lebanon has a system of military courts that also has jurisdiction over civilians for crimes of espionage, treason, and other crimes that are considered to be security-related. These military courts have been criticized by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International for "seriously fall[ing] short of international standards for fair trial" and having "very wide jurisdiction over civilians".
Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization. Aside from Syria, Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, and Iraq), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in more than 35 years. Lebanon is a member of the Francophone countries and hosted the Francophone Summit in October 2002.
Governorates and districts
Lebanon is divided into six governorates (mohaafazaat, Arabic: محافظات —singular mohafazah, Arabic: محافظة) which are further subdivided into twenty-five districts (aqdya—singular: qadaa). The districts themselves are also divided into several municipalities, each enclosing a group of cities or villages. The governorates and their respective districts are listed below:
Geography and climate
Lebanon from space. Snow cover can be seen on the western
Lebanon is located in Western Asia. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the west along a 225-kilometre (140 mi) coastline, by Syria to the east and north, and by Israel to the south. The Lebanon-Syria border stretches for 375 kilometres (233 mi) and the Lebanon-Israel border for 79 kilometres (49 mi). The border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in Syria is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms, but the border has been demarcated by the United Nations.
Qornet el Sawda (Cornet es-Sawda or Qurnat as Sawda' ) the highest summit in the middle east, 3088 meters.
Most of Lebanon's area is mountainous terrain, except for the narrow coastline and the Beqaa Valley, which plays an integral role in Lebanon's agriculture.
Lebanon has a moderate Mediterranean climate. In coastal areas, winters are generally cool and rainy whilst summers are hot and humid. In more elevated areas, temperatures usually drop below freezing during the winter with frequent, sometimes heavy, snow; summers, on the other hand, are warm and dry. Although most of Lebanon receives a relatively large amount of rainfall annually (compared to its arid surroundings), certain areas in north-eastern Lebanon receive little rainfall because the high peaks of the western mountain front block much of the rain clouds that originate over the Mediterranean Sea.
In ancient times, Lebanon housed large forests of the Cedars of Lebanon, which now serve as the country's national emblem. However, centuries of trading cedar trees, used by ancient mariners for boats, and the absence of any efforts to replant them have depleted Lebanon's once-flourishing cedar forests.
The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Over the course of time, emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labour comparable to most European nations and the highest among Arabic speaking countries.
Although Lebanon is ideally suited for agricultural activities in terms of water availability and soil fertility, as it possesses the highest proportion of cultivable land in the Arabic speaking world, it does not have a large agricultural sector. Attracting a mere 12% of the total workforce, agriculture is the least popular economic sector in Lebanon. It contributes approximately 11.7% of the country's GDP, also placing it in the lowest rank compared to other economic sectors. Major produce include apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.
Lebanon's lack of raw materials for industry and its complete dependency on Arab countries for oil have made it difficult for the Lebanese to engage in significant industrial activity. As such, industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses concerned with reassembling and packaging imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population, and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.
A combination of beautiful climate, many historic landmarks and World Heritage Sites continues to attract large numbers of tourists to Lebanon annually, in spite of its political instability. In addition, Lebanon's strict financial secrecy and capitalist economy—unique in its area—have given it significant economic status among Arab countries. The thriving tourism and banking activities have naturally made the services sector the most important pillar of the Lebanese economy. The majority of the Lebanese workforce (nearly 65%) have preferred employment in the services sector, as a result of the abundant job opportunities and large paychecks. The GDP contribution, accordingly, is very large and amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP.
The economy's dependence on services has always been an issue of great criticism and concern, as it leaves the country subject to the instability of this sector and the vagaries of international trade.
The 1975-1990 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a West Asian entrepôt and banking hub. The subsequent period of relative peace enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange.
Until the 2006 Lebanon War, Lebanon's economy witnessed excellent growth, with bank assets reaching over 75 billion dollars. By the end of the first half of 2006, the influx of tourists to Lebanon had already registered a 49.3% increase over 2005 figures. Market capitalization was also at an all time high, estimated at $10.9 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2006, just weeks before the fighting started.
Lebanon is the center for the Middle Eastern music scene. It is a hub for the music industry. Most of the dominating artists in the region come from Lebanon. Lebanese music has been known internationally for its distinct oriental bieent with a European flavor. Lebanon is all the region's fashion center as it has always been. Lebanese fashion designers are internationally renowned.
Beirut's airport, Rafiq Hariri International Airport, re-opened in September 2006 and the efforts to revive the Lebanese economy have since been proceeding at a slow pace. Major contributors to the reconstruction of Lebanon include Saudi Arabia (with $US 1.5 billion pledged), the European Union (with about $1 billion) and a few other Gulf countries with contributions of up to $800 million.
All Lebanese schools are required to follow a prescribed curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Private schools, approximately 1,400 in all, may also add more courses to their curriculum with approval from the Ministry of Education. The main subjects taught are mathematics, sciences, history, civics, geography, Arabic, and either French or English or both. The subjects gradually increase in difficulty and in number. Students in Grade 11, for example, usually study up to eighteen different subjects.
The government introduces a mild form of selectivity into the curriculum by giving 11th graders choice between two "concentrations": sciences, humanities, and 12th graders choose between four concentrations: life sciences, general sciences, sociology and economics, and humanities and literature. The choices in concentration do not include major changes in the number of subjects taken (if at all). However, subjects that fall out of the concentration are given less weight in grading and are less rigorous, while subjects that fall within the concentration are more challenging and contribute significantly to the final grade.
Students go through three academic phases:
- Elementary: Six years.
- Intermediate: Three years; students earn Intermediate Certification (Lebanese Brevet) at completion.
- Secondary: three years, students who pass official exams earn a Baccalaureate Certificate (Baccalauréat Libanais) in the concentration they chose in 12th grade. Students studying at French-system schools may also graduate with a French Baccalaureate that is considered equivalent to the Lebanese Baccalaureate.
These three phases are provided free to all students and the first eight years are, by law, compulsory. Nevertheless, this requirement currently falls short of being fully enforced.
Following secondary school, Lebanese students may choose to study at a university, a college, or a vocational training institute. The number of years to complete each program varies. While the Lebanese educational system offer a very high quality and international class of education, the local employment market lacks of enough opportunities, thus encouraging many of the young educated to travel abroad.
Lebanon has 41 nationally-accredited universities, several of which are internationally recognized. The American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Université Saint-Joseph (USJ) were the first Anglophone and the first Francophone universities to open in Lebanon, respectively. The forty-one universities, both public and private, largely operate in French, or English as these are the most widely used foreign languages in Lebanon.
At the English universities, students who have graduated from an American-style high school program enter at the freshman level to earn their baccalaureate equivalence from the Lebanese Ministry of Higher Education. This qualifies them to continue studying at the higher levels. Such students are required to have already taken the SAT I and the SAT II upon applying to college, in lieu of the official exams. On the other hand, students who have graduated from a school that follows the Lebanese educational system are directly admitted to the sophomore year. These students are still required to take the SAT I, but not the SAT II. The University academic degrees for the first stage are the Bachelor or the Licence, for the second stage are the Master or the DEA and the third stage is the doctorate.
The United Nations assigned Lebanon an Education Index of 0.84 in 2005.
Demographics and religion
No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (i.e. religious) balance. The CIA World Fact Book gives the following distribution: Muslim - 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian - 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), other 1.3%.
There are 17 religious sects recognized. Some followers of the Druze religion do not consider themselves to be Muslim; however, the state legally recognizes Druze followers as Muslim.
The number of those inhabiting Lebanon proper was estimated at 3,925,502 in July 2007. There are approximately 18 million people of Lebanese descent spread all over the world, with Brazil having the largest Lebanese community abroad (8 million). Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Venezuela, USA, West Africa, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic also have large Lebanese communities.
In 2007, Lebanon hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 325,800. 270,800 refugees and asylum seekers were from the Former Palestine, 50,200 from Iraq, and 4,500 from Sudan. Lebanon forcibly returned more than 300 refugees and asylum seekers in 2007.
Article 11 of Lebanon's Constitution states that "Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French language may be used". The majority of Lebanese people speak Arabic and either French or English fluently. Moreover, Lebanese people of Armenian descent also speak Armenian fluently.
The colloquial language used in Lebanon, which is known as Lebanese, is one part of a grouping of dialects called Levantine Arabic. It differs from the literary Modern Standard Arabic, owing its historical blend to Phoenician, Aramaic,Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. In recent years, it has become increasingly common for Lebanese people, especially the better educated, to converse in a combination of Lebanese, English and French, whereby the same sentence would include words or expressions from the different languages. In the 1960s Lebanese linguists, such as Mr. Saeed Aql, proposed 37 letters for the Lebanese dialect based on the Latin alphabets. The Arab league rejected the idea, putting pressure on the Lebanese government to refuse such a project. Noteworthy, the Lebanese dialcet is considered a language/dialect continuum. Teams of linguists from UCLA, Moscow State University, and from Cairo University, agreed that 45% of the Lebanese vocabulary is of Aramaic or Syriac origins. The Lebanese dialect has literary works date back to the 18th century AD.
Regional influences and occupations throughout the centuries could possibly explain why Lebanese people speak so many languages, even incorporating them into their own. In addition, due to the importance of the Lebanese diaspora and business interests of Lebanese worldwide, it has always been important to master languages other than Arabic. Moreover, the Palestinian dialect of Akko in Israel is considered a dialect of Lebanese.
In the Christian communities, until the Lebanese Civil War, it was seen as a mark of status to not speak Arabic.
The reason for this could possibly be that Christians generally were educated in many of the French educational institutions and so a general Francophone class emerged in their communities.
The Triumphal Arch in Tyre
The area including modern Lebanon has been home to various civilizations and cultures for thousands of years. Originally home to the Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon's diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country's lively festivals, highly successful musical styles and literature as well as their rich cuisine, and numerous violent clashes amongst different religious and ethnic groups. When compared to the rest of the Western Asia, Lebanese society as a whole is well educated, and as of 2003 87.4% of the population was literate. Lebanese society is very modern and similar to certain cultures of Mediterranean Europe. It is often considered to serve as Europe's gateway to Western Asia as well as the Asian gateway to the Western World.
Lebanese music is known around the world for its soothing rhythms and oriental beats. Traditional and folk music are extremely popular as are western rhythms.
One of the most well-known Lebanese singers is Fairuz; her songs are broadcast every morning on most radio stations and many TV channels, both in Lebanon and the Arab world in general. Other prominent artists include Julia Boutros, composer and oud player Marcel Khalife, Majida El Roumi, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, and the important nun and singer Sister Marie Keyrouz, founder of The Ensemble of the Peace.
Some Lebanese artists, such as Najwa Karam and Assi Hellani, remain loyal to a traditional type of music known as 'jabali' ("from the mountains"), while other artists incorporate Western style into their songs. Lebanese performers are perhaps the most popular in the Arab world alongside Egyptian artists, and the star scene includes prominent figures like Najwa Karam, Nancy Ajram, Elissa (singer), Ragheb Alame, Myriam Fares, Wael Kfoury, Nawal al Zoghbi, Carole Samaha, Julia Boutros, Marwan Khouri, Waleed Tawfeek, Amal Hijazi and Majida El Roumi. In addition, the lead guitarist from All Time Low, Jack Barakat, was born in Lebanon as well as the London based singer/songwriter Mika. Nevertheless, Lebanon is playing a leader rule in media and digital arts in the MENA region, in addition to the growth of online campaign such as Going Niche www.goingniche.com.
Because of Lebanon's unique geography, both summer and winter sports thrive in the country. In fact, in autumn and spring it is sometimes possible to engage in both during the same, skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean during the afternoon. At the competitive level, basketball, football, and hip ball are among Lebanon's most popular sports. In recent years, Lebanon has hosted the Asian Cup and the Pan-Arab Games; the country will host the Winter Asian Games in 2009. To meet the needs of these international competitions, Lebanon maintains state-of-the-art athletic facilities, that encourage local sporting activities and which in turn in both winter and summer games of the Olympics and Special Olympics.
Lebanon boasts six ski resorts, with slopes suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels of experience. Off-slope, there are many opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. In the summer, skilifts can be used to access some of Lebanon's best hiking trails, with panoramic views stretching as far as Cyprus to the west and Syria to the east on clear days. Canoeing, cycling, rafting, climbing, swimming, sailing and spelunking are among the other common leisure sports in Lebanon. Adventure and extreme sports are also possible throughout the country. The Beirut Marathon is held every fall, drawing top runners from Lebanon and abroad. Shorter races are also held for youth and less serious competitors. Race day is promoted as a fun, family event, and it has become a tradition for many to participate in costumes or outlandish clothing.
Arts and literature
Lebanon's contribution to the Arab Rennaissance during the middle of the 19th century is immense. This flowering allowed for the modernisation of the Arabic language moving it away from its Koranic classical dictums, and allowing for the creation and adaptation of previously unknown terms/ words as Al-Watan (the nation), Al-Watania (Nationalism).
The first theatre production in the Arab world was performed at the Al-Kahzen household in 1862, a Lebanese aristocratic family who were also representatives of France.
By the turn of the 20th century, Beirut was vying with Cairo as the major centre for modern Arab thought, with untold number of newspapers, magazines, and literary societies.
In literature, Gibran Khalil Gibran, who was born in Bsharri, Lebanon but grew to adulthood in Boston, Massachusetts, is known to be one of the world's famous writers, particularly known for his book The Prophet, which has been translated into more than twenty different languages.
Several contemporary Lebanese writers have achieved international success; including Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf and Hanan al-Shaykh.
In art, Moustafa Farroukh and Alfred Bassbouss are very famous. Mustafa Farroukh (1901-1957) was one of Lebanon's most prominent painters of the 20th century. Formally trained in Rome and Paris, he exhibited in venues from Paris to New York to Beirut over his career. His work was applauded for its representation of real life in Lebanon in pictures of the country, its people and its customs. Farroukh became highly regarded as a Lebanese nationalist painter at a time when Lebanon was asserting its political independence. His art captured the spirit and character of the Lebanese people and he became recognized as the outstanding Lebanese painter of his generation. His total paintings were more than 2000 sold to collectors inside and outside of Lebanon. He also wrote five books and taught art at the American University of Beirut.
Several international music festivals are held in Lebanon, featuring world-renowned artists and drawing crowds from Lebanon and abroad. Among the most famous are Baalbeck International Festival, Beiteddine Festival, Byblos International Festival, and the Al-Bustan Festival. Beirut (Beirut Nights) in particular has a very vibrant arts scene, with numerous performances, exhibits, fashion shows, and concerts held throughout the year in its galleries, museums, theatres, and public spaces.