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City (pop., 2005 est.: urban agglom., 1,777,000), capital of Lebanon. The country's chief port and largest city, it lies at the foot of the Lebanon Mountains. Initially settled by the Phoenicians, it gained prominence under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. It was captured by the Arabs in AD 635. Christian Crusaders held Beirut (1110–1291), after which it was dominated by the Mamluk dynasty. In 1516 it fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Under a French mandate, it became the capital of the new state of Lebanon in 1920 and capital of an independent Lebanon in 1943. It went on to flourish as the chief banking hub and a major cultural centre of the Middle East. It was severely damaged during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–90), during fighting between Israeli forces and those of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1982, and during the Israeli siege on Hezbollah in mid-2006. The city slowly began to rebuild after the end of the civil war and again in 2006 after the siege.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Beirut, visit Britannica.com.