Facts About Beirut

beirut by night

THE ECONOMY Between 1990 and 1992:

  • Industrial exports increased from $190 million to $420 million
  • Construction permits increased from 2,180 to 10,745
  • Passengers passing through Beirut airport have increased from 709,000 to 1,043,000
  • Electricity production increased from 1,394 to 4,033 million kilowatts
  • The number of ships coming to Beirut’s port increased from 671 to 3,054
  • Horizon 2000 is a ten-year plan for rebuilding Lebanon which will cost $29 billion

THE PEOPLE

  • 90,000 families are still internal refugees; several hundred thousand are still living abroad
  • A minimum of 350,000 Palestinians have no hope of citizenship either in Lebanon or in a new Palestinian state
  • Unemployment has risen from 5.5% before the war to 35% today
  • Private income: the richest fifth of the population receive 55% of private income while the poorest fifth receive only 4%

EDUCATION

  • Teachers went on strike this year to protest about the Government’s strategy on wages
  • Literacy: because they missed out on education during the war, 382,300 people, or 20% of the population aged 20 and above are illiterate 3
  • Government schools are under-funded. There are not enough state schools to cater for the whole school population
  • The gap is sometimes filled by confessional groups; many children would not go to school if it were not for privately-funded Islamic education

ENVIRONMENT

  • The Government has set up a Ministry for the Environment – but this is still very weak and a range of new legislation is needed
  • The water table and most of the natural springs have been polluted – large numbers of illegal wells were dug during the war
  • Solid and also toxic waste has been dumped into the sea
  • Air pollution in Beirut is among the highest in the world
  • Deforestation – including the mountain cedars which are the Lebanon’s national emblem – has left only 3% of the country forested, compared with 18% in the 1950s, though reforestation is now beginning
  • Improper use of fertilizers has rendered some previously fertile areas of the Beq’aa valley infertile due to soil salination
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