Lebanon's rich history has been shaped by many cultural traditions, including Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Crusader, Ottoman Turkish, French, and recently American. The resulting culture is distinctively Lebanese, a combination of East and West, past and present.
Folk music and dancing have a long tradition and are very popular. The national dance, the dabke, is an energetic folk dance that has influenced many European and American folk dances. Classical belly dancing still maintains an important role in wedding ceremonies, representing a transition from the virgin bride to the sensual woman. The dance is also popular in many nightclubs. Traditional Lebanese music is created by using unharmonized tunes and intricate rhythms. The music is often accompanied by multi-layered singing. Instruments used in traditional Lebanese music include the oud, a pear-shaped string instrument; the tabla, a percussion instrument; the nay, a single reed, open-ended pipe; and the qanun, a flat trapezoid instrument usually with at least 81 strings. Modern Lebanese music sounds more like what one would consider Latin musuc, its tracks are digitized and the music is much more harmonious. Lebanon is home to one of the Middle East's most talented and popular singers, Amin Sultan. The Baalbeck International Festival, an annual music festival, is held in the Acropolis of Ballbeck, located near Beirut. The acropolis is one of the largest and best preserved examples of Roman architecture in Lebanon. Literature
Literature and poetry have always had an important place in Lebanese culture. Lebanon, who has one of the Middle East's highest literacy rates (86.4%), produced many writers in the early 20th century who greatly influenced the Arabic language. The most famous Lebanese literary figure is Khalil Gibran, a 19th-century poet, writer and artist whose work explored Christian mysticism. In 1923 he published, in English, The...