the civil war, Lebanon developed as a
free-market economy with minimal
government regulations. Because the
country had a stable and open economy
and strict laws regarding secrecy in
banking, Beirut became the banking and
investment center of the Middle East.
From 1975 to 1990, however, warfare
severely dislocated most economic sectors
and destroyed structures and
infrastructures totaling an estimated
$25 billion to $30 billion.
the war damaged Lebanonís economy, most
of the rest of the Middle East
experienced an economic boom, and
businesses moved from Beirut to other
Middle East economic centers.
Lebanonís economy did not collapse
completely during the war, however,
largely because foreign aid to
competing militias fueled the wartime
Since 1991 Lebanonís economy has
begun to revive. Annual inflation,
about 500 percent in 1987, was
manageable by the mid-1990s. Gross
domestic product (GDP) totaled $15
billion in 1997, with the GDP
expanding by an average of 8.3 percent
annually in the period 1990-1997.
Horizon 2000, a multibillion-dollar
reconstruction program to rebuild
Beirutís central district, is the
main focus of the governmentís
energies. The government hopes the
redevelopment will encourage a broader
national recovery. Services, trade,
manufacturing, and agriculture are now
leading sectors, and the booming
construction sector is also
significant. However, the government
remains severely short of funds and
has increasingly privatized public
functions, including some official
monopolies, such as the postal service
is a major industry in Lebanon with
strict banking secrecy as one of its
important features. More than eighty
banks operate in the country with
transactions performed efficiently and
at low cost
of currency into and out of the
country and all exchange transactions
are completely free of any kind of
control. Foreign currency can be
exchanged at any bank or at one of the
numerous money exchange shops.
Note that $US are accepted everywhere.
The monetary unit is the Lebanese Lira
(LL) and currency is issued in LL500,
LL1,000, LL5,000, and LL10,000,
LL20,000, LL50,000 and LL100,000
notes. Coins are minted in LL 500, LL
250, LL 100 and LL 50 units.
(1,504 Lebanese pounds equal U.S.$1).
Cards and Travelers Checks:
Visitors will find many credit cards
are accepted in larger establishments.
Master Card, American Express, Diners
Club International and Visa
International are among those in
common use. In addition, local
credit cards such as Investment Credit
Card, Cashless Card and Link Card are
accepted. It is best not to count on
cashing travelers checks since they
require at least two weeks to clear.