On November 30th a mass of people in the Lebanese towns of Tripoli, Sidon, Beirut, and Tyre gathered near the coast to hold hands and make a human chain, stretching from the northern city of Tripoli down to the southern city of Tyre, in celebration of “a united Lebanon”. The event, organized by the NGO “Beirut Celebrations”, was intended to commemorate the 71st anniversary of Lebanon’s Independence.
Lebanon’s Independence Day, which occurs on November 22nd, is typically a day marked with pride as the people honor their flag and nation. This year, this was not the case, as governmental celebrations were cancelled in the wake of yet another failed presidential election. Despite the situation in a divided government, a few groups and organizations, such as Beirut Celebrations and Logos Association, quickly stepped in to take the reins and gather the masses to celebrate Lebanon in the name of unity and cohesion.
The centrally positioned Cedar tree has been a symbol of Lebanon for ages and represents immortality, tolerance, strength and prosperity.
We, too, celebrate Lebanon. And in following on the heels of Independence Day thought we’d share with you a few interesting facts about this very old, very interesting country.
Fact 1 – Lebanon used to be known as the “Switzerland of the East” due to the diversity and financial power that it enjoyed.
Fact 2 – The capital city Beirut, used to be called the “Paris of the Middle East’ because it was at one time a thriving city with a rich culture and attracted tourists from all over the world. When the war was over, extensive efforts were made to redevelop the national infrastructure and the failing economy.
Fact 3 – The country’s name is known to be the oldest in the world and has remained unchanged for over 4000 years.
Fact 4 – Byblos is the world’s oldest, continuously occupied city and the first alphabet was also created here.
Fact 5- The world’s first ever law school was founded in the city of Beirut in Lebanon.
Fact 6 – The cedar which is a native tree of Lebanon is mentioned 75 times in the Old Testament.
Fact 7 – Beirut was destroyed and built from scratch seven times and is known as the “Phoenix”.
Fact 8 – It is the one and only Asian country that has absolutely no desert.
Fact 9 – The first ever people to build a boat and set sail in it were the Phoenicians who were the original occupants of Lebanon.
For more on NEOS’ work in Lebanon visit our Lebanon neoBASIN Global Program webpage.