|General||Beirut is Lebanon?s capital and biggest city. There are between one and two million people living in Beirut. Beirut is the biggest seaport in Lebanon as well as the most important one. The seat of the Lebanese government is in Beirut. The three major corporate firms and banks are based in Beirut making in a major center of Lebanon?s economy.
In 2009, Lonely Planet called Beirut one of then ten liveliest cities in the world. In the same year The New York Times called Beirut the top places to visit in 2009.
After Dubai, Beirut has the highest visiting spending levels in Africa and the Middle East at $6.5 billion. Beirut is considered to be a ?high-end? tourist destination and is the ninth most visited city in the Middle East and Africa.
Since no population census has been taken since 1932 it is hard to gauge the exact number of the Beirut population. With a heavy Christian and Muslim population, Beirut is considered the most religiously diverse city in the Middle East. There are nine big religious communities in Beirut. Although all family matters, including inheritance, marriage and divorce are handled by the religious authorities in the city, any civil marriage conducted in another country are recognized by Beirut. Beirut used to have a large Jewish community up until the mid 1900s.
According to the Lebanese electoral system, citizens are registered where their paternal ancestors were registered when the last census took place. This means that many people do not actually live in their electoral zone. Because of this it is hard to get a good sense of the actual demographics of the city.
Because Beirut has been under the ruling of so many different governments and cultures it has been very diversely influenced. The law school located in downtown Beirut was a major center of legal studies in the Eastern Roman Empire and is one of the oldest law schools in the world. The ruins located in downtown Beirut are seven layers deep. each one representing a different civilization. The Lebanese are very proud of this rich and diverse history.
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