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Lebanon

A beautiful country in a desperate situation

date of entry 02/06/2005
mileage 472,573

capital Beirut

area 10.452 km²

population 4.516.100

GDP 24.640 M. US-Dollar

official language Arabic

Lebanon, in the eastern Mediterranean, is surprisingly mountainous, and in winter you can go skiing there. There was still snow lying when Otto and the Holtorfs visited this country in the eastern Mediterranean in the summer of 2005. It was relatively peaceful, but there were reminders of the long civil war everywhere they looked.
  • Copperware, and boxes made of cherry or olive wood, are popular souvenirs. Large parts of the country were once covered in cedar forests: now there are only around 200 square kilometres left. Cedar is a very durable wood, used to build houses and ships, and felling caused widespread deforestation. Today, the cedar of Lebanon is a protected species. The trees are up to 1,000 years old.
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  • Snow sometimes lies on the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains until well into the summer. Hence the country’s name: laban means "white" in Aramaic.
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  • The Temple of Baalbek lies on the Bekaa plateau, 90 kilometres north of the capital, Beirut. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Temple of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and fertility, is very well preserved.
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  • The civil war of 1975 to 1990, and the 2006 Lebanon war, turned large parts of Beirut into rubble. Some of this is still visible today. A great deal of construction has taken place since the end of the Syrian occupation in 2005. Historic buildings are being replaced by skyscrapers, and many Lebanese fear their city is losing its identity.
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  • Video: Lebanon: an ancient land living in the shadow of conflict

Otto was here before ...

Syria

date of entry 04 June 2005
mileage 473,209