Traveling Luck for Lebanon

Lebanon is located in Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria.

Lebanon has borders with Israel for 79km and Syria for 375km.

Land in Lebanon is narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains.

Lebanese land covers an area of 10400 square kilometers which is about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut

As for the Lebanese climate; Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows.

Lebanese (singular and plural) speak Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian.

Lebanese National Map

Lebanese Map

Regions of Lebanon

Lebanon has made progress toward rebuilding its political institutions since 1991 and the end of the devastating 15-year civil war. Under the Ta'if Accord - the blueprint for national reconciliation - the Lebanese have established a more equitable political system, particularly by giving Muslims a greater voice in the political process while institutionalizing sectarian divisions in the government. Since the end of the war, the Lebanese have conducted several successful elections, most of the militias have been weakened or disbanded, and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) have extended central government authority over about two-thirds of the country. Hizballah, a radical Shi'a organization listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, retains its weapons. During Lebanon's civil war, the Arab League legitimized in the Ta'if Accord Syria's troop deployment, numbering about 16,000 based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley. Damascus justified its continued military presence in Lebanon by citing Beirut's requests and the failure of the Lebanese Government to implement all of the constitutional reforms in the Ta'if Accord. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, however, encouraged some Lebanese groups to demand that Syria withdraw its forces as well. The passage of UNSCR 1559 in early October 2004 - a resolution calling for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon and end its interference in Lebanese affairs - further emboldened Lebanese groups opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon. The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq HARIRI and 20 others in February 2005 led to massive demonstrations in Beirut against the Syrian presence ("the Cedar Revolution"). Syria finally withdrew the remainder of its military forces from Lebanon in April 2005. In May-June 2005, Lebanon held its first legislative elections since the end of the civil war free of foreign interference, handing a two-thirds majority to the bloc led by Saad HARIRI, the slain prime minister's son.


Lebanon Country Profile

The 1975-91 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. In the years since, Lebanon has rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily - mostly from domestic banks. In an attempt to reduce the ballooning national debt, the Rafiq HARIRI government began an austerity program, reining in government expenditures, increasing revenue collection, and privatizing state enterprises. In November 2002, the government met with international donors at the Paris II conference to seek bilateral assistance in restructuring its massive domestic debt at lower interest rates. Substantial receipts from donor nations stabilized government finances in 2003, but did little to reduce the debt, which stands at nearly 170% of GDP. In 2004 the HARIRI government issued Eurobonds in an effort to manage maturing debt. The downturn in economic activity that followed the assassination of Rafiq al-HARIRI has eased, but has yet to be reversed. Tourism remains below the level of 2004. The new Prime Minister, Fuad SINIORA, has pledged to push ahead with economic reform, including privatization and more efficient government. The Core Group of nations has announced plans to hold a Donor's Conference in early 2006 to assist the government of Lebanon in restructuring its debt and increasing foreign investment.

Lebanese natural resources include limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land

Nahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity

Lebanese religion is 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%.

Natural hazards in Lebanon include dust storms, sandstorms.

Travel Advice on Lebanon

Lebanon

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Local Travel section (exchange of fire).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Lebanon.  We advise against all travel south of the Litani River.

  • On 23 January 2007, opposition protestors stepped up their protests across Lebanon, blocking off major roads with burning tyres and setting cars alight.  There were a number of shooting incidents and clashes between opposing groups and flights were cancelled.  Further clashes broke out on 25 January 2007 and an over night curfew was imposed.  We strongly advise you to avoid all public demonstrations.

  • If you are in Lebanon you should exercise extreme caution and register with the British Embassy.  You should keep abreast of the latest developments by listening to BBC and other English language broadcasts, and heed local advice.

  • On 12 July 2006, two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped on the border between Israel and Lebanon.  This led to a major outbreak of violence, including major Israeli strikes across Lebanon in which buildings, roads and bridges have been destroyed and hundreds of people killed and thousands injured.  Following the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon came into effect on 14 August 2006.  While this has largely been observed so far, the security situation remains uncertain, and there remains much unexploded ordnance in Southern Lebanon.

  • There is a serious risk of danger from unexploded bombs being accidentally detonated.  This risk is greatest in the south of Lebanon, where the most ordnance fell.  You should heed local advice in areas which have not been declared safe from unexploded ordnance.

  • There is a high threat of terrorism in Lebanon, with a risk that Western and British interests may be targeted.

  • You should carry identity papers with you at all times.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Lebanon.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see the Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
The risk to tourists from petty or violent crime is low by international standards, though vehicle crime and bag snatching is on the increase. Normal precautions should be taken.
Political Situation
Lebanon Country Profile
We advise against all but essential travel to Lebanon.  We advise against all travel south of the Litani River.  On 12 July 2006, Hizbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed a further eight.  Israel responded by launching strikes across Lebanon on a range of targets including houses, roads, bridges and factories.  These strikes killed over a thousand people and injured over 3,500.  In Beirut, there were strikes on the southern suburbs and on the airport.
Following the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon came into effect at 0500 GMT on 14 August 2006.  This has largely been observed so far and most refugees have returned to their homes.  However, the security situation remains uncertain.  Israeli forces remain south of the Litani river whilst large amounts of unexploded ordnance pose a serious danger.
Israel announced the lifting of its blockade of Lebanon’s ports and airports on 7 September.  The airport has subsequently reopened for regular scheduled flights.
On 23 January 2007, opposition protestors stepped up their protests across Lebanon.  This included blocking off major roads with burning tyres including the main road to Beirut airport, and setting cars alight.  A number of flights have been cancelled.  There have been numerous clashes between opposing groups.
Further clashes broke out on 25 January 2007, in which four people were killed and over 160 injured.  The most serious of these took place at the Beirut Arab University in which opposing groups attached each other with sticks and stones.  Other minor clashes erupted throughout the country involving all the main parties.  The army made a number of arrests and imposed a curfew in Beirut between 2030-0600.
If, against our advice, you travel to Lebanon, we strongly advise you to avoid all public demonstrations.
If you decide to travel to or remain in Lebanon we strongly advise you to:
  • Register with the British Embassy.
  • Heed local advice in areas which have not been declared safe from unexploded ordnance.
  • Keep abreast of latest developments by listening to BBC and other English language broadcasts.
  • Avoid military sites, and entering any of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, even if you are being accompanied by camp residents.
  • Exercise caution when travelling in the Northern Beka'a valley and the mountainous areas bordering Syria where extremist groups and smugglers continue to operate.
  • Avoid large crowds and public demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent.
  • Exercise caution on the border with Syria, where the situation remains tense.
Local Travel
There was an exchange of fire between Israeli and Lebanese forces on the Blue Line (Israel/Lebanon border) overnight on 7/8 February 2007.
Unexploded mines and ordnance pose a danger to travellers throughout the country, especially in that part of South Lebanon occupied by Israel until May 2000. You should seek local advice before venturing off well-worn tracks. Photography should be limited to tourist sites. Photographing military sites may result in your arrest.
Road Safety
Israeli strikes have included roads and bridges across the country including the Beirut-Damascus highway.
Driving standards are poor and the accident rate high. Traffic lights are not always observed. Self-drive hire is best left to the experienced. Taxis are not always in good condition; hotels can advise on firms with cars which are well maintained. Night driving should be avoided if possible, especially outside well-lit urban areas. Should you choose to drive your own car to Lebanon you should be aware that vehicles with diesel engines are now banned. Anyone attempting to enter the country in a diesel car will be required to leave the vehicle at the Syrian border.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

During Ramadan eating, drinking or smoking in public places between the hours of sunrise and sunset may cause offence in some areas.

Lebanon is part Muslim, part Christian.  In many areas you will find dress codes more relaxed than in other countries of the region.  But you should still dress modestly when visiting sites of religious significance such as mosques or churches – and also where it is clear that local people expect it.
Possession, use and trafficking of controlled drugs are all serious offences in Lebanon, which carry custodial sentences.
The Lebanese Criminal Code contains a general provision concerning "every sexual act against nature".  Lebanese courts consider that this provision includes homosexuality.  A criminal offence under this provision is punishable with a custodial sentence of up to one year.

Family Law is dealt with in the religious courts.  Aspects of the law differ from UK law, including in the fields of marriage and child custody.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You can apply for a visa on arrival at your port of entry.  British Overseas Citizens and British Protected Persons are still required to obtain a visa prior to travel.  Visa requirements are subject to change, so you may wish to contact the nearest Lebanese Embassy for further information: Lebanese Embassy.  Overstaying without the proper authority is considered to be a serious matter.  You may be refused permission to leave until a fine has been paid.  If your passport contains Israeli stamps you will be refused entry to Lebanon, even if you hold a valid Lebanese visa.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact Lebanese Embassy.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.
Medical treatment can be expensive.  Most hospitals are well equipped.  Doctors are generally well qualified though nursing standards vary.  The majority of medical staff speak French and English.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.
NATURAL DISASTERS
There have been no major earth tremors in recent years, but Lebanon is in an earthquake zone.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see the What We Can Do To Help page of the FCO website.
We recommend that you register with the Embassy's Consular Section if you intend remaining in Lebanon for any length of time.
You should carry original identity documents at all times.  If you travel outside Beirut you may encounter either Lebanese Police/Army checkpoints.  Photocopies of passports etc may not be accepted as proof of identity.