by Joey Ayoub
I found an old Hachette World Guides on The Middle East from 1966. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the descriptions of Lebanon from that time. This post is the first of many to come.
The following are all extracted from the book:
“Lebanon presents certain human and geographical characteristics which are very much its own and which tend to distinguish it from the other countries of the Middle East. Little more than half the size of Wales, it is one of the smallest countries in the world (4015 sq. m.), but its density of population is higher than any other area of S. W. Asia (368 per sq. m). Though the soil of S. Lebanon and the S. Beqaa is not particularly fertile or well-watered, Lebanon as a whole is admirably irrigated by the numerous streams which rise on the slopes of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, those great mountain screens which run parallel to the coast; and the fertility of this country, so often boasted of in the Bible, is in marked contrast with the aridity of adjoining lands. Isolated among the mountains difficult of access, and lacking direct contact with the nomadic Bedouins of the Syrian desert, the people of Lebanon come under the influences of the desert to only a quite diminished degree, and this alone suffices to mark them off from the other Arab nations. As a Christian, yet Semitic, enclave in the heart of the Mohammedan East, Lebanon is admirably placed to serve as a first point of contact between Islam and the West. Endowed with a seaboard of which the Phoenicians made good use in ancient times, the Lebanese have never fallen short in their age-long role as traders, and Beirut is today one of the most important, and probably the best-equipped, harbour of the whole Syrian coast. Like ancient Phoenicia, Lebanon has numerous “colonies” among foreign nations, particularly in America and, like that of Carthage on the Tyrian homeland, the influence of this “Lebanon abroad” on the mother country is far from negligible
Next: Physical Characteristics