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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Levant

The Levant (pronounced /ləˈvænt/) (Arabic: ‎, Bilad ash-Shām, also known as المشرق (Mashriq)) describes, traditionally, the Eastern Mediterranean at large, but can be used as a geographical term that denotes a large area in Western Asia formed by the lands bordering the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, roughly bounded on the north by the Taurus Mountains, on the south by the Arabian Desert, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, while on the east it extends towards the Zagros Mountains. The Levant includes the countries of Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Syria, Jordan, and occasionally Cyprus, Sinai, and part of Iraq. The UCL Institute of Archeology describes the Levant as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa".[1]

Levant was originally applied to the "Mediterranean lands east of Italy", from the Middle French word levant meaning "the Orient". Historically, the "trade on the Levant" between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire was of great economic importance. An imprecise term, Levant refers to an area of cultural habitation rather than to a specific geographic region, and its meaning shifts according to historical and cultural reference and preference.



The term Levant, which first appeared in English in 1497, originally meant a wider sense of "Mediterranean lands east of Venetia", as in French soleil levant "rising Sun". It thus referred to the Eastern direction of the rising Sun from the perspective of those who first used it and has analogues in other languages, notably Morgenland – or a closely related word meaning morning land – in most Germanic languages.

This is similar to the Ancient Greek name Ανατολία (Anatolía), which means the "land of the rising Sun", or simply the East. It derives from ἀνατολή "the rise", especially "the sunrise", resp. from ἀνατέλλω = to rise, esp. said of the Sun or Moon (ἀνά = up, above + τέλλω = to go, rise, come into existence). For the Greeks, Ανατολία (Anatolía) is a synonym of Μικρά Ασία (Mikrá Asía = Asia Minor), not of Levant, which is Λεβάντες (Levándes) in Modern Greek. Likewise, the Arabic term Mashriq, derived from the Arabic consonantal root sh-r-q (ش ر ق), relating to "the east" or "the sunrise", refers to "the land where the Sun rises", and designates a broad area encompassing the Levant. However, the most equivalent historically used Arabic term for the Levant is the "Sham" (الشام), now mostly used by Arabs in reference to Greater Syria; the same name "Sham" is also one of the Arabic names for Damascus.


The term became current in English in the 16th century, along with the first English merchant adventurers in the region: English ships appeared in the Mediterranean in the 1570s and the English merchant company signed its agreement ("capitulations") with the Grand Turk in 1579 (Braudel).

In 19th-century travel writing, the term incorporated eastern regions under then current or recent governance of the Ottoman empire, such as Greece. In 19th-century archaeology, it referred to overlapping cultures in this region during and after prehistoric times, intending to reference the place instead of any one culture.

Since World War I

When the United Kingdom took over the southern portion of Ottoman Syria in the aftermath of the First World War, some of the new rulers adapted the term pejoratively to refer to inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and to Europeans (usually French, Italian or Greek) who had assimilated and adopted local dress and customs.[citation needed]

The French Mandates of Syria and Lebanon, from 1920 to 1946, were called the Levant states. The term became common in archaeology at that time, as many important early excavations were made then, such as Mari and Ugarit. Since these sites could not be classified as Mesopotamian, North Africa, or Arabian, they came to be referred to as "Levantine."

Today "Levant" is typically used by archaeologists and historians with reference to the prehistory and the ancient and medieval history of the region, as when discussing the Crusades. The term is also occasionally employed to refer to modern or contemporary events, peoples, states or parts of states in the same region, namely Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Syria (compare with Near East, Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia). Several researchers include the island of Cyprus in Levantine studies, including the Council for British Research in the Levant[2], the UCLA Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department[3], and the UCL Institute of Archaeology[1], the latter of which has dated the connection between Cyprus and mainland Levant to the early Iron Age. Currently, a dialect of Levantine Arabic, Cypriot Maronite Arabic, is the most-spoken minority language in the country.

See also


  • Braudel, Fernand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Phillip II
  • Julia Chatzipanagioti: Griechenland, Zypern, Balkan und Levante. Eine kommentierte Bibliographie der Reiseliteratur des 18. Jahrhunderts. 2 Vol. Eutin 2006. ISBN 3981067428
  • Levantine Heritage Site. Includes many oral and scholarly histories, and genealogies for some Levantine Turkish families.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : Middle East : Levant
The 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.


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

  • Beirut, Lebanon - a coastal city with a French influence formerly known as the "Paris of the Middle East"
  • Damascus, Syria - considered by some to be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, Damascus contains several world-famous Arab souqs
  • Jerusalem, Israel - quarreled over by Jews and Arabs alike, this famous city is the site of many famous biblical events
  • Tel Aviv, Israel - a coastal city that is known for its vacation and resort possibilities
  • Amman, Jordan - this modern city is a great launching pad for many of Jordan's attractions
  • Aqaba, Jordan - a popular vacation city located on the Red Sea, well known for it wonderful scuba diving and marine life


The media would have you believe that the Levant is a volatile and unfriendly region; the opposite is generally true. While there is occasional confrontations throughout the region, tourism is big business and tourists are generally welcome with open arms. The dominant Arab culture is welcoming and hospitable attitude is a nice change from the sometimes indifferent cultures of European or Western countries. The region also 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 to lovers of both ancient and modern history. Known by some as the Cradle of Civilization, the Levant contains a multitude of attractions and sites, many of which have been made noteworthy from biblical accounts.


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.

  • Beirut International Airport - Beirut, Lebanon
  • Damascus International Airport - Damascus, Syria
  • Ben Gurion International Airport - Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Queen Alia International Airport - Amman, Jordan

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 busses are the main forms of inter-regional transportation. The cost and destination of such services will vary from country to country.


Visit historical places such as old churches and mosques.

Experice 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.


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 non-kosher or forbidden for religious purposes, 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.


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.

For those who like to visit a bar or two on vacation, be prepared to select from a wide variety of bars and pubs, and if you like night life there is a lot of clubs and good yearly events and raves.

Liquor stores can be found almost everywhere in the major cities while home made wine is found in some villiages of christian majority like 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. Amman and Beirut have a lot of Western music influence in clubs and events present all year long along with Israel. To help you get around in the Levantine countries, you can find weekly and monthly magazines with event listings and restaurants. To be able to move in Amman and Jordan,you can check out or Jordan Today. To have an idea of the night life style in Amman and Beirut, Layalena magazine has a lot to say.

Stay safe

The Levant region has been tainted by past violence and the occasional present-day confrontation. While safety and security is generally not a problem for tourists, the subject should be addressed.

  • Lebanon: Despite being plagued by civil war over the last several decades, Lebanon is currently a safe, tourist-friendly city in a state of reconstruction. While signs of the war are still evident in certain places, the aggressive rebuilding project, especially in Beirut, has pulled Lebanon from the ashes and placed it on a pedestal as a jewel of the Levant.
  • Syria: While most Syrians are extremely friendly and hospitable, the Syrian government has had issues with some European and Western governments, making them more suspicious to those types of visitors. Visitors sticking to well-known and reputable locations and accommodations should not have any trouble.
  • Israel: Tourism is big business in Israel, so both Jews and Arab are accommodating to visitors. Both cultures, however, occasionally clash as they vie for the land. Like in Syria, visitors sticking to well-known and reputable locations and accommodations should not have any trouble.
  • Jordan: Jordan is well known for being the safest country in the Middle East. The Jordanian government does not promote domestic violence of any sort and maintains a constant vigil on the look out for trouble. Visitors can travel anywhere throughout the country with ease and in safety.

Get out

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 is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEVANT (from the French use of the participle of lever, to rise, for the east, the orient), the name applied widely to the coastlands of the eastern Mediterranean Sea from Greece to Egypt, or, in a more restricted and commoner sense, to the Mediterranean coastlands of Asia Minor and Syria. In the 16th and 17th centuries the term "High Levant" was used of the Far East. The phrase "to levant," meaning to abscond, especially of one who runs away leaving debts unpaid, particularly of a betting man or gambler, is taken from the Span. levantar, to lift or break up, in such phrases as levantar la casa, to break up a household, or el cameo, to break camp.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also levant




French levant (rising, sun's point of rising), form of lever (to rise), from Latin levō (to rise), from levis (light, not heavy).


Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun




  1. The countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea variously:
    a. Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine
    b. Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt.
    c. Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt.

Derived terms




Bosnian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia bs

Proper noun

Levant m.

  1. Levant (Eastern Mediterranean)


Dutch Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia nl

Proper noun


  1. Levant (Eastern Mediterranean)


Serbian Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia sr

Proper noun

Levant m.

  1. Levant (Eastern Mediterranean)

See also

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