Lebanon is a small Middle East country of only 4 million people comprising a wide variety of ethnic groups and religions, with the majority split between Christians, Muslims and Druzes. This cultural and religious diversity, an amazing history – the Phoenician cities of Byblos, Beirut, and Sidon are among the oldest continuously populated cities in the world – and the friendliness of its people make Lebanon one of the most fascinating countries of the Middle East.
Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon with a population of approximately 2.1 million people in its metropolitan area. It is by far the biggest city in Lebanon. Due to Lebanon’s small size the capital has always held the status as the only true cosmopolitan city in the country, and ever since the independence, has been the commercial and financial hub of Lebanon. Beirut is very culturally diverse, and thus, multilingual. Lebanese Arabic is the native language but everyone speaks Standard Arabic, the official language, while English and French (especially the former) are also spoken by most people. Originally named Bêrūt, “The Wells” by the Phoenicians, Beirut’s history goes back more than 5000 years.
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People of all nationalities require a visa for Lebanon bar Gulf countries (but not Yemen).
Nationals of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA can get a tourist or business visa on arrival at Beirut International Airport, or at the border with Syria.
Nationals of other countries: SIGNIS is able to offer special assistance to registered Congress participants to obtain a visa. Our partners in Lebanon will make a list of participants requiring a visa that will be sent to the National Security. The National Security will make the required visas available upon arrival at the Beirut airport. A letter to board the aircraft will also be provided. Please note that this option is only available after your registration is confirmed.
To be included in this list and obtain a visa, please check the box “I need a visa” in the Congress registration form. An email will be sent to you asking you to provide us the following information before 15 June 2013:
Name and surname as specified in your passport
Passport expiry date
Name and surname of your father as specified in the passport
Name and surname of your mother as specified in the passport
Passport ID photo
If your information is not received by 15 June 2013 by the General Secretariat, you will be required to go through the normal process for obtaining a visa at Lebanese embassies and consulates in your country. SIGNIS will provide registered participants with a letter of invitation.
Lebanon denies entry to travelers with evidence of a visit to Israel in their passport.
Like in any country, it is preferable to be accompanied when visiting certain locations. In general, the Israeli and Syrian borders and any Palestinian refugee camps should be avoided.
Visitors should always register with their respective embassies once they enter Lebanon and keep up-to-date regarding any travel warnings regarding Lebanon.
It is extremely important that you get travel insurance prior to your departure to Lebanon. Hospitals in the country can be very expensive and, with the lack of insurance, cash payments may be expected beforehand.
Depending on your country of origin, vaccination can be recommended. Please check with your doctor.
The Lebanese currency is the Lebanese pound, abbreviated “LBP” or “LL”. Its value is kept stable relative to the US dollar, with a value of about LL1,500 to US$1. Either Lebanese pounds or US dollars are accepted almost everywhere, and it is common to pay in dollars but receive change in pounds (in which case, make sure you don’t get short-changed).
ATM machines are found in all larger towns and accept credit cards or co-branded home banking cards for Cirrus, Diners Club, Maestro, MasterCard, Visa and Visa-Electron and dispense cash in both Lebanese pounds and US dollars. Please be informed that payday loans in US dollars are not available.
Lebanon has a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when the climate is warm but not uncomfortable, are the best times to travel in Lebanon.