Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LETTER FROM LEBANON - November 8, 1952

Beirut's Martyrs' Square during celebrations marking the release by the French of Lebanon's government from Rashayya prison on November 22, 1943, the day of Lebanon's independence. Adib Ibrahim.

Joseph Wechsberg, Letter from Lebanon, "LETTER FROM LEBANON.," The New Yorker, November 8, 1952, p. 143

Lebanon is a beautiful, mountainous country on the east coast of the Mediterranean, but not enough land is under cultivation to feed its population so about 15,000 people leave every year. Lebanese in foreign countries mail home money which accounts for a large share of the country's income. A number of American cars are imported which are sometimes used as taxis; drivers are exceedingly reckless. There are not many natural resources but people are enthusiastic hotel keepers and money-changers. Country has highest standard of living, lowest rate of illiteracy, is most civilized and advanced of all Middle East states. Was under French mandate from 1920 to 1941. French still control banking, industry, public utilities and have strong cultural and and culinary influence. Population about half Christian half Moslem. Two finest colleges in Middle East are in Beirut: the University de St. Joseph, operated by the French Jesuits and the American University of Beirut.

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