Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coast, Beirut is the country's largest and main seaport.
The first mention of this metropolis is found in the ancient Egyptian Tell el Amarna letters dating from the 15th century BC. The city has been inhabited continuously since then. The Beirut River runs south to north on the eastern edge of the city.
Beirut is Lebanon's seat of government and plays a central role in the Lebanese economy, with many banks and corporations based in its Central District, Hamra Street, Rue Verdun and Ashrafieh. Following the destructive Lebanese Civil War, Beirut's cultural landscape underwent major reconstruction.
Identified and graded for accountancy, advertising, banking/finance and law, Beirut is ranked as a Beta World City by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
Beirut has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate characterized by warm days and nights, yet summers can be virtually rainless. Autumn and spring are warm, with rainy winters. August is considered the only really hot muggy month, with a monthly average high temperature of 32 °C (90 °F), and January and February are the coldest months, with a monthly average low temperature of 11 °C (52 °F).
The prevailing wind during the afternoon and evening is from the west (onshore, blowing in from the Mediterranean); at night it reverses to offshore, blowing from the land out to sea.
The average annual rainfall is 893 millimetres (35.2 in), with the majority falling in winter, autumn and spring. Much of the autumn and spring rain falls in heavy downpours on a limited number of days, but in winter it is spread more evenly over a large number of days. Summer receives very little rainfall, if any. Snow is rare, except in the mountainous eastern suburbs, where snowfall is common due to the region's high altitudes.