About Lebanon

Lebanon was as much a cultural melting pot in past centuries as it is today. The country benefits from a rich history, to which a number of archaeological treasures still stand in testament. Many civilizations have thrived in Lebanon throughout the ages and within its modest borders are numerous historic and cultural attractions.

General Information:

  • Population: Approximately 4 million
  • Official language: Arabic
  • Other Spoken Language: English & French
  • Religions: Muslim, Christian, Druz
  • Area: 10452 Square Kilometers
  • Climate: Mediterranean Climate, moderate rainy winter and long warm dry summers
  • Capital: Beirut
  • Government type: Democratic Republic
  • National Day: 22 November
  • Local Time: GMT + 2 hours in winter and GMT + 3 Hours in summer
  • Day Off: Sunday
  • Official Holidays: 01 January, 09 February, Good Friday (Oriental & Occidental), Easter (Oriental & Occidental), 01 May, 15 August, 22 November, 25 December, 31 December, Al Fitr (Muslim Holidays date not fixed), Adha (Muslim holiday date not fixed)

Practical Information:

  • Money The official currency is the Lebanese Pound. However along with the Lebanese Pound, the US dollar is widely used
    • Payment cards: Many shops, hotels, restaurants, bars etc,… accept international payment cards such as Visa, Master or American Express
    • Automatic bank tellers: Withdrawal can be made from any automatic bank teller found in any region of the country
    • Traveler’s checks: they can be exchanged mainly in banks.
  • Health Lebanese medical care is well known for its quality. Hospitals, clinics and well supplied pharmacies can be found in all towns
    • No particular vaccine is required to visit the country.
  • Security  is a constant worry for those visiting Lebanon for the first time. In Beirut, as in other towns and villages, streets are particularly safe day and night.
  • Bargaining  If it exists, the practice of bargaining cannot be regulated and is limited to specific situations. It is common to bargain the fare with taxi drivers, with street sellers or for a wholesale purchase. However, bargaining for some products such as food is considered to be ill mannered.
  • Food  The extravagant Lebanese food represents the high point of the country’s hospitality. It is said that a true mezze table should present at least twice as many delicacies as can possibly be consumed by the guests at hand. Whatever the mezze’s rationale, it is love at first sight for almost everyone who samples it.The mezze can have 30 to 40 small dishes of appetizers, eaten with Arabic Bread ( khobz arabi) or with a salad leaf
  • Alcohol  Alcohol is permitted in Lebanon and its served in hotel restaurants and bars.
  • Tipping  You usually tip porters, waiters, hotel staff, guides, doormen, etc. The average rate in restaurants in 10-15%, whereas with other service providers anywhere between 2,000LBP and 10,000LBP are acceptable (depending on service and quality provided).
  • Weather  Lebanon gets 300 days of sunshine a year. Coastal temperatures rarely fall bellow 15°C during the rainy winter, and may reach 31°C on average during the humid summer. This applies also to the region of the Beqaa valley. On higher altitudes, the air becomes drier and fresher. Major snowfalls allow skiing during the months of December until April. The intermediate seasons, spring and fall, vary between one and two months, and the average temperature is usually 21°C.
  • Languages  Arabic is the Lebanese national language. However, it is also common to speak French and/ or English. The spoken language is a dialect called Lebanese Arabic, often combined with English and French. This dialect differs from the formal Arabic called “fos’ha” by being much less formal.
  • Water  Most Lebanese homes have two water taps; one for domestic use and another one for potable water. It is not recommended to drink tap water, unless you are certain of its cleanliness.
  • Clothing  Generally there are no particular cultural rules for this matter in Lebanon. However, wearing short clothing, such as short pants, is to be avoided in certain places such as the souk of Tripoli or Sidon… To visit religious places, modest clothing is required. Women need headscarves when visiting mosques, usually provided there.
  • Photography  All photography and video equipment are available in Lebanon, and at better prices than in Europe and North America. Concerning development and printing, photo shops are abundant
  • Telephone  The first two digits of Lebanese telephone numbers are the area code
    • Telephone booths are accessible for local and international calls
    • International code for calling Lebanon is 961
    • Payphone cards are available in post offices, kiosks and smoke shops at 15 000 LBP and 30 000 LBP
    • Mobile phones are very popular in Lebanon; however most businesses and homes have land lines
    • In case of an emergency useful numbers are: Internal Security Forces: 112; Red Cross: 140; Civil Defense: 125.
  • Telecommunication  Internet connections are very common in Lebanon. Cyber-cafes are widespread in cities as well as most villages. Many hotels also provide internet connections.
  • Electricity  The current is 220 Volts. It is not unusual to face electrical shutdowns that may damage sensible electrical machines. It is recommended to shut down any machine when not using it.
  • Trasportation  Public transportation is available. Bus stops are easily recognized. Collective taxis are also available. They are called “Service”. They are not expensive, price starting at 1000 LBP. Private taxis also exist. Price starts at 5000 LBP for a short trip. Kurban Tours strongly recommend “Allo Taxi” (phone number 01/366661 or 1213 from any land or mobile phone). Another mean of transportation is car rental. It is necessary to have an international driving license in case you don’t have a Lebanese one. Kurban Tours recommends “Avis Rent a Car” (phone number: 01/366662). Be sure at all times to drive on the right side of the road.
  • Business Day  In general, shops are opened from 09:00 to 19:00 or 20:00, from Monday to Saturday. However, most shops in downtown Beirut open from 10:00 till midnight, seven days a week. Banks are opened from 08:30 till 14:00 from Monday to Saturday.

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