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LANGUAGE:

In addition to his native Arabic language, the average Lebanese is often fluent in English or French. Many well-educated Lebanese are tri-lingual.

TIME:

Lebanese time is G.M.T. + 2 hours in winter and +3 hours in summer.

TOURIST INFORMATION:
Ministry of Tourism - Central Bank Street - Tel: 961 (01) 340940/4 - Fax: 961 (01) 343945
Address: P.O. Box 11-5344, Beirut, Lebanon

GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE:

Although a small country, Lebanon's varied geographical areas fall into four features. First there is the narrow coastal plain where five of Lebanon's great historical cities developed: Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre. The 220 kilometer-long coastline is marked by indentations and rocky outcrops wherever the sub-coastal range joins the sea.

The second geographical feature is a north-south mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. Appearing at times to rise abruptly from the sea, Mount Lebanon covers more than a third of the country. Its western slopes are well wooded and are frequently broken by wild valleys. The mountains rise gradually over a distance of some 30 kilometers to the highest peaks of Sannine (2,628 meters) and Qornet es Sawda (3,069 meters).

It is Mount Lebanon, or Jabel Lubnan in Arabic, that gave its name to the country. In fact Lebanon owes its geographical unity to this mountainous range which is almost entirely contained within its frontiers.

The next of Lebanon's four areas is the Beqaa valeey which is between 8 to 15 kilometers wide and about 120 kilometers long from north to south. A fertile plain east of the Mount Lebanon range between 800 and 1,250 meters in elevation, the Beqaa valley was known as the breadbasket of the Roman Empire in ancient times.

Still the major agricultural zone of Lebanon, the central area is the most fertile while the southern part is less cultivated, being swampy and full of rocks. It is through the Beqaa that the 140 kilometer-long Litani River, the longest in the Lebanon, turns to meet the Mediterranean between Sidon and Tyre.

On the eastern side of the Beqaa, the Anti-Lebanon mountains and Mount Hermon rise. A chain of rocky, almost treeless mountains running parallel to the Lebanon range, the Anti-Lebanon is lower but more complete than Mount Lebanon. These mountains form the frontier between Lebanon and Syria.

Lebanon enjoys an essentially Mediterranean climate with Mild, rainy winters and long summers which are warm and humid.
The spring months sometimes witness the so-called Khamseen, a hot, dry wind, but these winds are usually short-lived.

EDUCATION:

At the start of the 19th century, professors, poets, journalists, writers and historians grouped together in Lebanese or Western cultural institutions of Beirut to revive old Arab traditions and extol the value of modern culture. This movement accelerated the liberation of the Arab World and enhanced the value place on education. Today the country has seven major universities and numerous specialized colleges and schools.

St. Joseph University, founded and run by Jesuit Fathers, has for over a century and a quarter contributed to the Lebanese and Arab intelligentsia. The American University of Beirut, founded in 1866, offers a liberal education that has trained many of the region's leaders, educators and scientists.

A Lebanese state university was founded in 1967 comprising faculties of law, medicine, arts and science and a teachers' training college. Later the Arab University, with faculties of arts, law, commerce and engineering was opened. The venerable Lebanese American University (formerly Beirut University College) has also been an important influence. In recent years, many new universities have sprung up throughout the country, notably Holy Spirit University (Kaslik) and Notre Dame University (Louwayze) both north of Beirut, and Balamand University, south of Tripoli. The general educational spirit of Lebanon looks outwards, both to the East and West. Many Lebanese students pursue higher education in Europe, the USA and in Arab countries.

There is a nation-wide network of elementary and secondary public schools which is supplemented by many private schools. Instruction is given in at least two languages.

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