Economy, Transportation and Communications
Beirut International Airport, port recovery, monthlies, mountain country, important port
Lebanon is rapidly restoring its essential transportation facilities. For a mountain country, the network of roads is dense, and more than four-fifths of the roads are paved. In 1975 three rail lines served Lebanon, but these deteriorated during the war and in the mid-1990s were inoperable. Beirut International Airport was formerly the main aviation hub for the Middle East but was used minimally during the war. In the mid-1990s, it served only a fraction of the number of passengers it served before the war. A $450 million reconstruction project is designed to revive airport activity and attract 6 million passengers annually. Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines (MEA), once a large and efficient private company, deteriorated during the 1980s and was turned over to the government.
The formerly bustling seaport of Beirut was isolated during the war and lost its role as the transit port for nearby Syria and Jordan. A $550 million project is underway to speed up the port recovery and expand it five-fold. Tripoli is Lebanon’s second most important port. The famous old Phoenician ports of Tyre (now Sur) and Sayda are now minor, but Sayda’s port is scheduled for major expansion. Juniyah’s port expanded greatly during the 1980s.
In the mid-1990s the government licensed the many unregulated wartime radio and television stations and reduced their number, awarding licenses to 6 television stations and 58 radio stations. Lebanese press is comparatively free of government interference. Some 15 daily newspapers are published in Arabic, French, Armenian, and English, with a similar number of weeklies and monthlies.
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