14 Fun Facts About Lebanon That Intrigue The Mind

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A sovereign state, the third smallest Middle-Eastern country, and a popular holiday destination, Lebanon is rich in 7,000 years of history. With a seamless fusion of modernity with age-old traditions, Lebanon has something to surprise everyone. 

Dive right in and learn some of the most intriguing facts about the ‘Paris of the East’!

1. Lebanon Is The Oldest Country Name 

While many countries across the globe have had their names changed over the years, this is not the case with Lebanon. The country’s name is among the oldest and has remained unchanged in the last 4000 years. 

2. It Appeared 71 Times In The Old Testament 

Tracing its religious significance, the word Lebanon appeared 71 times in the Old Testament. It refers to the Latin meaning of Lebanon, Mons Libanus, a mountain. It could also refer to the Hebrew word Laban, which means white. 

Due to the mountain being covered with snow and light-colored soil, ancient Phoenicians called Lebanon Mountain the white mountain. In the Old Testament also, Lebanon referred to the natural resources and features, and not a region.  

3. The Very First Alphabet Originated In Lebanon

Phoenicians, the original people of Lebanon, are known for inventing the alphabet.

Phoenicians inscription

The initial inscription of the very first Phoenician alphabet was found on the sarcophagus of the king of Byblos, Ahiram. 

4. The First Miracle Of Jesus Happened Here

The first miracle of Jesus, where he turns water to wine at the wedding at Cana, was an important and revealing moment in Christianity. It strengthened the faith of the followers in Jesus Christ. The miracle took place in the biblical town of Lebanon called Qana or Cana. 

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5. Lebanese People Like To Smoke

As per research by the World Health Organization, Lebanon ranks third when it comes to per capita cigarette consumption. There are around 1.1 million people over the age of 18 who currently smoke in the country. 

Apart from that, per person per year consumption of cigarettes in Lebanon is over 2,000. 

6. Wine Culture Is Prevalent In Lebanon 

Another thing Lebanon is famous for is its wine. The wine culture of Lebanon dates back to 7000 BC, making Phoenicians among the first producers of wine. 

There is a wine renaissance going on in Lebanon today, with the region producing over 7 million bottles a year and refining the quality as well. The fertile regions of Bekaa Valley and Jezzine, inland of Sidon, are famous for producing the majority of wines. 

You can find everything from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and even Carignan.  

7. Arak Is Lebanon’s National Beverage 

Given the prevalent wine culture, the national bevgerage of Lebanon, Arak or Araq, is also infused with grapes. It is a traditional alcoholic beverage that comes with a ritual of distilling grape vines and letting them ferment for three weeks. 

Two people clicking glasses of Arak

The locals also boast of the drink because of the easy manufacturing process, and it is a staple for Sunday meals. They typically serve it in small glasses and consume it with mezze platters. 

8. Native Lebanon People Reached America Before Columbus  

Another interesting fact about the original people of Lebanon, the Phoenicians, is that they built the first boat, and they were also the first people ever to sail.

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What’s even more interesting and lesser known is that the Phoenicians reached America way before Christopher Columbus. There is substantial evidence that supports the fact that Phoenicians were present in America long before Columbus discovered it. 

DNA evidence goes on to prove that these people were not conquerors but explorers who crossed the sea and integrated into the new civilizations.  

9. The Oldest City Is In Lebanon 

30 km north of modern Beirut lies the city called Byblos, which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. The name of the city is in Greek, and the word papyrus was once called Byblos (the language) because it was exported through Byblos. 

Excavations in the region indicate that Byblos was inhabited as early as 8000 BC to 4000 BC, also known as the Neolithic period. It was a harbor for the export of wood and cedar to Egypt. 

10. Hyena Is The National Animal 

The national animal of Lebanon is the striped hyena. Commonly found in the arid and mountainous woodlands, the animal is seldom seen as it comes out only late at night. 

A hyena on grass

It is a vital species to maintain the balance of the ecosystem as striped hyenas prevent the spread of diseases and keep the environment clean. 

11. Lebanon Was Once French 

While it may sound far-fetched, the relationship between France and Lebanon dates back to the 13th century. Louis IX protected a branch of Catholicism called Maronites, which is still the largest Christian denomination there.  

Some also believe that it started in the 16th century when Francois I created an alliance with the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Suleman the Magnificent. It continued in the 19th century, when French Jesus missionaries started schools in Lebanon in 1875. 

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French people continue to reside in Lebanon, while many Lebanese people have made France their home.  

12. First Law School Was In Lebanon 

Archeological findings have discovered the very first law school in the world in Beirut, Lebanon. Under Emperor Augustus, the Roman Empire built the law school of the first century.  

The Law School of Berytus was the epicenter for the study of Roman Law in classical antiquity. 

13. National Dishes Are Kibbeh 

Lebanon is a haven for food enthusiasts, and their national dish Kibbeh proves it. The dish consists of an emulsified paste of bulgar wheat with spices and lamb. They turn the meat into small nuggets or balls and then charcoal them or stuff them inside vegetables. 

14. Home To 5 World Heritage Sites

There are five World Heritage Sites located in Lebanon. They are Tyre, Anjar, Byblos, Baalbek, and Ouadi Qadisha, and Forest of the Cedars of God.

Joshua Smith

Joshua has visited 10 countries and has another 110 to go! He plans to sail around the world over 5 years, and then spend the next 5 years driving around the world in a 4×4. He prefers to explore the more remote places without the tourists, and yet, doesn’t mind the ritzy feel of business class at 10,000 feet either.

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