Beirut is the capital of Lebanon. During the lingering Lebanese civil war the city (once known as the Paris of the East) was severely damaged. The last few years many buildings in Beirut have been restored and the city regains some of its former glory.
The exact number of inhabitants of Beirut isn't known, since the last census dates from before the civil war. It's estimated that two million people live in the city.
Beirut is centrally located on the coast, on a peninsula that stretches out in the Mediterranean. East of the city lie the Lebanon Mountains.
Beirut used to be the financial center of the Middle East. Although banking is still prominently existent in the Lebanese capital, the civil war has drawn heavily on the economic sector. The Jordan capital Amman seems to have overtaken a large part of the financial services in the region.
There are also silk and cotton factories and the trade of gold and silver are still alive. Since the end of the civil war tourism to Beirut is increasing again.
Rafic Hariri International Airport is situated nine kilometers south of the city center in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Outside rush hour, the airport is easily reachable with a rental car via freeway Hafez El Assad.
Beirut has an excellent public bus system, consisting of large blue-white city busses and smaller red-white mini busses. There are no stops: you simply raise your hand to make the bus stop.
Traffic in Beirut is busy and chaotic and during morning and evening rush hour traffic is stuck in many places. Besides the city center is a pedestrian area.
It's also difficult to find a parking space in the street. In addition in most streets you may park for no more than two hours. You better park your rental car in one of the parking garages or in a guarded parking lot.
The Lebanese capital has a large supply of accommodation. The prices are however somewhat higher than in other countries in the region. Most budget accommodations are concentrated in the old city center. Luxury hotels can be found mainly in Ain El Mraish, by the sea. Beirut draws ever more tourists; it's therefore recommended to book your hotel room well in advance.
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