Lebanon has seen many invasions, which introduced new cultures and languages.
The Canaanites, the first known settlers in the country, spoke a Semitic language.
and absorbed aspects of the many other cultures around them.
The Phoenicians are celebrated today in the government-supervised history books as the inventors of the alphabet and as the symbol of Lebanon's golden past.
Hence, restaurants usually have a pleasant view, of which Lebanon's geography affords many. Ramadan , the Muslim month of fasting, is the occasion for large meals at sundown.
Soup, fatteh (a chick pea and yogurt dish), and karbooj (a nut-rich pastry) are especially eaten during Ramadan.
Today the new moderate government is seeking to secularize political offices and fight corruption. There is a feeling today that most Lebanese are tired of the war and are trying to put their differences behind them as they reconstruct their country, which is currently under Syrian hegemony. Since they have always been at the border between East and West, they often blend easily with the societies to which they migrate. Furniture is often a mixture of Arabic, Italian, European, and American styles.
Most of Lebanon's population lives in the main cities of Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon which are densely populated. Apartments are usually decorated in western style: couches are placed against the walls, end tables are common, and walls are often adorned with framed paintings and tapestries.
Since most people live in city apartments, the only Lebanese who grow their own food live in mountain villages and some coastal towns. Private property is very common and encouraged in Lebanon, although the government still owns most public services.
The average life expectancy for those born at the end of the twentieth century was 69.35 years.
Whereas at independence, gained in 1943, the population was one-half Christian and one-half Muslim, a higher birth rate among Shiite Muslims upset this balance and was one of the causes of the civil war.
Estimates in the 1990s reveal a population composed of nearly 70 percent Muslims and 30 percent Christians. Languages spoken include Arabic, French, English, and Armenian. The Beirut accent is the mellowest and most highly regarded, while country accents are harsher.
Accents are a much higher indicator of social status than they are in the United States.