Located in the Middle East, Lebanon is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south. The western part of the country has shores on the Mediterranean Sea.
The region has long been a melting pot of different groups of people. Today Lebanon is one of the most densely populated countries on the Mediterranean.
Four main languages are spoken in the country- French, English, Armenian, and the official language: Arabic. Even though Arabic is the official language of the country, many of the citizens are multi-lingual.
Arabic Language Day
There’s even a day, created by the United Nations, that celebrates the Arabic Language! Observed annually on December 18th, it celebrates multilingualism (knowing how to speak more than one language,) and cultural diversity.
Early Times In Lebanon
One of the things that Lebanon is known for is archaeology. All sorts of wonderful artifacts have been uncovered!
A crossroads for the major players in history, Lebanon hosted merchants from Mesopotamia (known as the cradle of civilization), Egypt, and Europe as they made their way to the far East for trade.
Lebanon has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In fact, one of the oldest continually lived in places in the world is a city called Byblos. It’s believed that this seaside city has been inhabited since 5,000 BC! And now? It’s the largest city in the country.
Lebanon Changes Hands Several Times
Throughout history, the area now known as Lebanon was home to a lot of different cultures. It connected the east and the west. Many people passed through that land, and lots of them claimed it for their own!
The Phoenicians ruled it for a while. They were taken over by Arabs. Then the power shifted to the French during the Crusades.
The Ottoman Empire took over in about the 13th century. Their rule lasted until the end of World War I. And then the French came in again…
Lebanon Becomes Its Own Country
Now Lebanon is officially known as the Lebanese Republic. It’s been its own country since November 22, 1943, declaring independence from French rule.
Having so many civilizations call the country of Lebanon home led to a diverse culture in their country now. The culture has grown from it being the melting pot of different people since prehistoric times!
The variety shows up in the diversity of the population, the music styles, the festivals, and of course the foods.
Delicious Foods of Lebanon
Much of the foods are highly spiced and full of flavor. From stews to salads, Mediterranean-type dishes are prevalent.
Recipes brought to Lebanon by other cultures were adapted to available ingredients. The people who were already living in the area adapted outside foods to their liking.
Some well-known Lebanese dishes have found their way across the globe. Here are some dishes you might recognize!
Tabbouleh is a Lebanese national dish. Considered a salad and usually served as an appetizer, it's made from bulgur wheat, fresh mint and parsley, spring onions, and tomatoes as a base, then topped with cucumbers, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil.
It originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. The herbs that make up the bright flavors in the dish have been used since Medieval times!
Grains, like bulgur, and beans, like fava beans and chickpeas are prevalent in the country. These staples make up a good portion the primary kinds of foods enjoyed throughout the country.
Flatbreads are an important part of most meals. They make a pocket-type bread, like Pita bread, called khubz Arabi. Just like Pita bread, it’s eaten with dips or stuffed to make a sandwich.
Yummy dips served with this tasty flatbread are baba ghanoush, made from roasted eggplant, and hummus, which is made from ground chickpeas, tahini, and lemon juice.
There are lots of ways to explore other countries around the world. Trying out the different foods is just one of them. But it’s a tasty way to experience new flavors and find new favorite dishes.
You can explore the tastes of of Lebanon in our amazing Lebanon box from eat2explore!