Beirut is a city that has had a tumultuous past and has suffered greatly as a result of , but like the proverbial phoenix, it has risen in no time. If you remove the images of bombing, riots and violence, you will discover a tiny yet amazing city that pulsates with life. Massive restoration and construction programs have set it back on its feet. Beirut is also an important commercial center and home to nearly a third of the country’s population. Beirut has the advantage of great weather, mountain and sea resorts, great food, European architecture, exciting night life and casinos. Nicknamed “Paris of the East”, the city is sure to get your adrenalin pumping as you venture downtown and sample its vibrancy and energy and experience its European atmosphere in the vast number of open side-walk cafes that are abuzz with conversation till the wee hours of the morning. Beirut has loads of attractions to lure the tourist; great museums, exciting shopping locales and beautiful old buildings that have withstood the ravages of time. Venture beyond the city and you can visit the awesome caves of stalactites and stalagmites; the Jeita Grotto or visit the Roman ruins at Baalbek. A cosmopolitan city in all respects, Beirut enjoys the privilege of being UNESCO’s 2009 World Book Capital, a title it is deserving of, with its over 600 publishing houses, libraries, bookshops and cultural centers.