Levant

The Levant

Levant is an imprecisely defined region in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east.

Regions

The term Levant is employed to refer to peoples, states, or parts of states in the region, namely:

Turkey's Hatay Province, the southern "panhandle" of the country extending towards Syria, may be considered part of the Levant due to its geography, history and culture.

Cyprus is also geographically close but in other matters, it is much more connected with Europe.

Cities

Understand

The media might lead you to believe that the Levant is a volatile and unfriendly region; in fact, the opposite is true. While there are occasional confrontations throughout the region, tourism is big business and tourists are welcome with open arms. The dominant Arab culture's welcoming and hospitable attitude is a nice change from the sometimes indifferent cultures of European and Western countries.

The region includes many wonderful and distinct cultural and ethnic groups, including the Arabs, Jews, Circassians, Armenians, Iranians, Assyrians, Maronites, Bedouins, Kurds, Druze and Turks.

The Levant is a fantastic destination for enthusiasts of both ancient and modern history. Known by many as the Cradle of Civilization, the Levant contains a multitude of attractions and sites, many of which have been made noteworthy from many religious texts and traditions..

Talk

While Arabic is the official language of most Levantine countries (except Israel, which utilizes both the Arabic and Hebrew languages), the spoken dialects vary from place to place. To address these varying dialects, some individual phrasebooks have been created.

Get in

There are a number of international airports that facilitate entry into the region.

Arrival and departure by sea is an alternative to air travel, at a variety of seaports throughout the Levant. Ports are located on the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.

Get around

The Levant region is comprised of a handful of small countries, making transportation from place to place fairly accessible. Taxis, services (pronounced "ser-veeses"), and buses are the main forms of inter-regional transportation. The cost and destination of such services will vary from country to country.

Do

Visit historical places such as old churches and mosques.

Experience smoking hubbly-bubbly in a coffee shop or restaurant, this practice became imbedded in the culture.

Wear the traditional dress in order in immerse yourself in a cultural experience.

Eat

Regional cuisine will vary depending on the country. Lebanon, for example, will provide a blend of Arabian, French, and Western styles, while Jordan and Syria will showcase traditional Arabian fare consisting heavily of lamb, chicken, rice, and vegetable dishes. Beef dishes are available but are more rare (no pun intended) than in European or Western countries. Pork products, being forbidden for religious purposes by both Muslims and Jews, are practically nonexistent except in some areas of Lebanon.

Every visitor is encouraged to experience Levantine Arabic cuisine. For the few who never develop the taste for it, however, there are plenty of Western-style restaurants to choose from.

Drinks and night life

Wherever you are in the Levant, be prepared to be offered plenty of cups of tea. Hot tea is a staple beverage in the Levant and is offered as a symbol of hospitality to guests. Strong coffee, such as espresso is often available too.

For those who like to visit a bar or two on vacation, be prepared to select from a wide variety of bars and pubs. Liquor stores can be found almost everywhere in the major cities, while home made wine is found in some villages of Christian majority such as Fuhais in Jordan, just ten minutes drive from Amman. Local wine can be bought from any liquor store or bar, and is of high quality grapes and competes with the best Italian wines.

If you like night life, there are a lot of clubs and good yearly events and raves. Amman and Beirut and have a lot of Western musical influence in clubs and events presented all year long along with Israel, especially Tel Aviv. To help you get around in the Levantine countries, you can find weekly and monthly magazines with event listings and restaurants.

Stay safe

The Levant region has suffered from violence in the past, and active conflicts are going on in some areas today.

Go next

Exiting the Levant is generally as easy as entering. International airports are generally the common form of transportation out, one may choose to travel affordably by bus, car, or ferry from Aqaba to Egypt.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 12, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.