A country with a landscape just as varied as its diverse population, Lebanon offers a unique experience as a crossroads between the Middle East and the Mediterranean. From vast plains and magnificent mountains to shimmering oceans and lush valleys, the country offers much to explore.
Living and working in Lebanon
Lebanon’s population is well educated and capable of filling most skilled positions. This means there's no major push to attract foreign workers to the country. Most expats working in Lebanon are employed by NGOs or within the diplomatic arena. Other skilled foreigners work in construction, architecture or engineering. Tourism also offers opportunities for expats in Lebanon.
The population is predominantly Muslim with a Christian minority. Due to the instability and conflicts in a number of Lebanon’s regional neighbours, the country has also become host to refugees from Iraq, Sudan and Syria. The presence of these refugees has often been a contentious issue, particularly with regard to the influx of those from Palestine.
Arabic is the official language of Lebanon, although French and English are also widely spoken. These languages are also spoken and taught in many Lebanese secondary schools. All three languages are used in business circles. Therefore, expats doing business in Lebanon should be able to converse easily enough if they know one or more of these languages.
Cost of living in Lebanon
New arrivals in Lebanon will find the cost of living in Beirut, Lebanon's capital, significantly higher in comparison to other cities in the Middle East. The cost of housing, food and energy largely account for the high cost of living. Another expense that expats moving to Beirut will encounter is transport. The city lacks public transport, so the use of a private car is necessary.
Expat families and children
The Lebanese government views education as a priority and the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East. Lebanese children particularly excel in mathematics and science. Most Lebanese children attend private local schools that offer the International Baccalaureate programme. There are also international schools offering foreign curricula, most of which are in Beirut.
Climate in Lebanon
The Mediterranean climate of Lebanon brings hot summers and pleasantly cool winters. The hottest month of the year is August, when coastal temperatures can reach 95°F (35°C). January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 50°F (10°C). The rainy season is from November to March – rain tends to fall in heavy, periodic cloud bursts.
Lebanon’s vibrant culture and diversity are what set it apart from other Middle Eastern destinations. These factors will also help ease the integration of expat families and lessen the culture shock that foreigners may experience in other countries in the region.
Population: 6.7 million
Capital city: Beirut (also the largest city)
Political system: Unitary parliamentary democratic republic
Neighbouring countries: Lebanon is bordered by Syria to the north and east, Israel to the south and Cyprus to the west across the Mediterranean Sea.
Geography: Lebanon occupies a narrow strip on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, with mostly mountainous terrain.
Major religions: Islam and Christianity
Main languages: Arabic (official), French and English
Time: GM+2 (GMT+3 from the last Sunday in March till the last Sunday in October).
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Round, two-pin plugs and square, three pin plugs.
Money: The official currency is the Lebanese Pound (LBP)
Tipping: 10 percent if a service charge is not included in the bill.
International dialling code: +961
Emergency numbers: 140 or 125
Internet domain: .lb
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Due to limited public transport options, expats usually have their own car.
"I love the Lebanese cuisine! The quality of life is very good. I treasure the feeling of safety here most of all."
Read more about Mia's expat experience in Lebanon
Are you an expat living in Lebanon?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Lebanon. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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