Beirut, modern capital, venerable past, with its million-plus inhabitants, conveys a sense of life and energy that is immediately apparent.
This dynamism is echoed by Capital’s geographical position: a great promontory jutting into the blue sea with dramatic mountains rising behind it.
A city with a venerable past, 5,000 years ago Beirut was a prosperous town on the Canaanite and Phoenician coast.
Beirut has a Mediterranean climate characterized by a hot and rain-free summer, pleasant fall and spring, and cool, rainy winter.
August is the hottest month of the year with a monthly average high temperature of 29 °C , and January and February are the coldest months with a monthly average low temperature of 6 °C During the afternoon and evening the prevailing wind direction is from the west, i.e., onshore, or inland from the Mediterranean Sea; at night the wind direction reverses to offshore.
Byblos is one of the top contenders for the “oldest continuously inhabited city” award.
According to Phoenician tradition it was founded by the God El, and even the Phoenicians considered it a city of great antiquity.
Although its beginnings are lost in time, modern scholars say the site of Byblos goes back at least 7,000 years.
Ironically, the words “Byblos” and “Phoenicia” would not have been recognized by the city’s early inhabitants.
For several thousand years it was called “Gubla” and later “Gebal,” while the term “Canaan” was applied to the coast in general.
It was the Greeks, some time after 1200 B.C., who gave us the name “Phoenicia,” referring to the coastal area. And they called the city “Byblos” (papyrus” in Greek), because this commercial center was important in the papyrus trade.
There is evidence of an early settlement in Tripoli that dates back as early as 1400 BC. In the 9th century BC, the Phoenicians established a trading station in Tripoli and later, under Persian rule, the city became the center of a confederation of the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Arados Island. Under Hellenistic rule,Tripoli was used as a naval shipyard and the city enjoyed a period of autonomy.
It came under Roman rule around 64 BC. In 551 AD, an earthquake and tidal wave destroyed the Byzantine city of Tripoli along with other Mediterranean coastal cities.During Umayyad rule, Tripoli became a commercial and shipbuilding center.
It achieved semi-independence under Fatimid rule, when it developed into a center of learning. The Crusaders laid siege to the city at the beginning of the 12th century and were able finally to enter it in 1109.
This caused extensive destruction, including the burning of Tripoli’s famous library, Dar al-Ilm (House of Knowledge), with its thousands of volumes. During the Crusaders’ rule the city became the capital of the County of Tripoli.
In 1289, it fell to the Mamluks and the old port part of the city was destroyed. A new inland city was then built near the old castle.
During Ottoman rule from 1516 to 1918, it retained its prosperity and commercial importance. Tripoli and all of Lebanon was under French mandate from 1920 until 1943, when Lebanon achieved independence.
Sidon has been inhabited since 4000 BC and perhaps as early as Neolithic times (6000 – 4000 B.C.). It was one of the most important Phoenician cities, and may have been the oldest.
From here, and other ports, a great Mediterranean commercial empire was founded. Homer praised the skill of its craftsmen in producing glass and purple dyes.
It was also from here that a colonizing party went to found the city of Tyre. Tyre also grew into a great city, and in subsequent years there was competition between the two, each claiming to be the metropolis (‘Mother City’) of Phoenicia.
Glass manufacturing, Sidon’s most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale, and the production of purple dye was almost as important. The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.
Tyre was founded around 2750 BC according to Herodotus and it appears on monuments as early as 1300 BC.
Philo of Byblos (in Eusebius) quotes the antiquarian authority Sanchuniathon as stating that it was first occupied by one Hypsuranius.
Sanchuniathon’s work is said to be dedicated to “Abibalus king of Berytus” — possibly the Abibaal who was king of Tyre.
 There are ten Amarna letters dated 1350 BC from the mayor, Abi-Milku, written to Akenaten. The subject is often water, wood, and the Habiru overtaking the countryside, of the mainland, and how it affected the island-city.
It was also from here that a colonizing party went to found the city of Tyre.
Tyre also grew into a great city, and in subsequent years there was competition between the two, each claiming to be the metropolis (‘Mother City’) of Phoenicia. Glass manufacturing,
Sidon’s most important enterprise in the Phoenician era, was conducted on a vast scale, and the production of purple dye was almost as important.
The small shell of the Murex trunculus was broken in order to extract the pigment that was so rare it became the mark of royalty.