Lebanon Travel Guide
Island Trips Arab Destinations offers travel tips and information for top travel places and best destinations. We feature links, resources and large selection of budget airlines, chartered planes, sea cruises, ferries, travel agencies, land transports and attractions including beaches, medical tourism, retirement homes, historical and pilgrimage tours.
The urban population in Lebanon is noted for its commercial enterprise. Over the course of time, emigration has yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world. As a result, remittances from Lebanese abroad to family members within the country total $5.6 billion and account for one fifth of the country's economy. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor comparable to most European nations and the highest among Arabic speaking countries.
Although Lebanon is ideally suited for agricultural activities in terms of water availability and soil fertility, as it possesses the highest proportion of cultivable land in the Arabic speaking world, it does not have a large agricultural sector. Attracting only 12% of the total workforce, agriculture is the least popular economic sector in Lebanon. It contributes approximately 11.7% of the country's GDP, also placing it in the lowest rank compared to other economic sectors. Major produce includes apples, peaches, oranges, and lemons.
Industry in Lebanon is mainly limited to small businesses that reassemble and package imported parts. In 2004, industry ranked second in workforce, with 26% of the Lebanese working population, and second in GDP contribution, with 21% of Lebanon's GDP.
A combination of beautiful climate, many historic landmarks and World Heritage Sites continues to attract large numbers of tourists to Lebanon. In addition, Lebanon's strict financial secrecy and capitalist economy have given it significant, though no longer dominant, economic status among Arab countries. The thriving tourism and banking activities have naturally made the services sector the most important pillar of the Lebanese economy. The majority of the Lebanese workforce attains employment in the services sector as a result of the abundant job opportunities. The GDP contribution, accordingly, amounts to roughly 67.3% of the annual Lebanese GDP. However, dependence on the tourism and banking sectors leaves the economy vulnerable to political instability.
The 1975–1990 civil war heavily damaged Lebanon's economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and all but ended Lebanon's position as a West Asian entrepôt and banking hub. The subsequent period of relative peace enabled the central government to restore control in Beirut, begin collecting taxes, and regain access to key port and government facilities. Economic recovery has been helped by a financially sound banking system and resilient small- and medium-scale manufacturers, with family remittances, banking services, manufactured and farm exports, and international aid as the main sources of foreign exchange.
Until the 2006 Lebanon War, Lebanon's economy witnessed excellent growth, with bank assets reaching over 75 billion US dollars, By the end of the first half of 2006, the influx of tourists to Lebanon had already registered a 49.3% increase over 2005 figures. Market capitalization was also at an all time high, estimated at $10.9 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2006, just weeks before the fighting started.
The war severely damaged Lebanon's fragile economy, especially the tourism sector. According to a preliminary report published by the Lebanese Ministry of Finance on 30 August 2006, a major economic decline was expected as a result of the fighting.
Rafiq Hariri International Airport re-opened in September 2006, and the efforts to revive the Lebanese economy have proceeded at a slow pace. Major contributors to the reconstruction of Lebanon include Saudi Arabia, the European Union and a few other Persian Gulf countries with contributions of up to $800 million.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Lebanon's estimated 2008 public debt exceeded 164% of GDP, ranking third highest in the world, though down from 178% in 2004. Finance minister Mohammad Chatah stated that the debt reached $47 billion in 2008 and would increase to $49 billion if privatization of two telecoms companies did not occur. The Daily Star wrote that exorbitant debt levels have "slowed down the economy and reduced the government's spending on essential development projects."
We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair. Mignon McLaughlin
When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable. Clifton Fadiman