Capital and largest city of Lebanon; located in western Lebanon on the Mediterranean; Also called: capital of Lebanon.
Or Beyrouth; Capital and port of Lebanon, devastated by civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was occupied by armies of neighboring countries; million.
Beirut dates back to at least 1400 BC. Before the civil war 1975–90, Beirut was an international financial and educational center, with four universities (Lebanese, Arab, French, and US); it was also a center of espionage. Subsequent struggles for power among Christian and Muslim factions caused widespread destruction. From July to Sept 1982 the city was besieged and sections virtually destroyed by the Israeli army to enforce the withdrawal of the forces of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). After the cease-fire, 500 Palestinians were massacred in the Sabra–Shatila camps 16–18 Sept 1982, by dissident Phalangist and Maronite troops, with alleged Israeli complicity. Civil disturbances continued, characterized by sporadic street fighting and hostage taking. In 1987 Syrian troops entered the city and remained. Intensive fighting broke out between Christian and Syrian troops in Beirut, and by 1990 the strength of Syrian military force in greater Beirut and E Lebanon was estimated at 42,000. In Oct 1990
President Elias Hwari formally invited Syrian troops to remove the Maronite Christian leader General Michel Aoun from his E Beirut stronghold; the troops then went on to dismantle the “Green Line” separating Muslim western and Christian eastern Beirut. The Syrian-backed “Greater Beirut Security Plan” was subsequently implemented by the Lebanese government, enforcing the withdrawal of all militias from greater Beirut.