Arts and literature

By the turn of the 20th century, Beirut was vying with Cairo as the major centre for modern Arab thought, with many newspapers, magazines, and literary societies.

In literature, Khalil Gibran, who was born in Bsharri, is particularly known for his book The Prophet, which has been translated into more than twenty different languages.Several contemporary Lebanese writers have also achieved international success; including Elias Khoury, Amin Maalouf and Hanan al-Shaykh.

In art, Moustafa Farroukh 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. He also wrote five books and taught art at the American University of Beirut.

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Schools

060828-lebanon-culture_bigAll 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 at least one secondary language (either French or English). The subjects gradually increase in difficulty and in number. Students in Grade 11, for example, 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.

Sports

Because of Lebanon’s unique geography, both summer and winter sports thrive in the country. In autumn and spring it is sometimes possible to engage in both during the same season, skiing in the morning and swimming in the Mediterranean during the afternoon, much as one can in Cyprus. 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.

Lebanon has six ski resorts, with opportunities also available for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. In the summer, skilifts can be used to access hiking trails, with 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. Race day is promoted as a fun, family event, and it has become a tradition for many to participate in costumes or outlandish clothing.

Festivals

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 vibrant arts scene, with numerous performances, exhibits, fashion shows, and concerts held throughout the year in its galleries, museums, theatres, and public spaces.

Mobility

Rounding up the small size allows you to Lebanon from north to south in just three hours through. The main transport is buses, taxis and private cars.

For journeys by taxi you should negotiate the price in advance to avoid surprises. From the airport to downtown Beirut fall about $ 25 taxi costs (Booth 2005). Within the city we must also smaller rides with around $ 10 taxi costs.

Ancient history

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.

Etymology

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