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It seems likely that the area has been continuously occupied throughout prehistory, thanks to its location favorable with fresh water and abundant fish from the sea.

More than 1.1 million Syrians are now in Lebanon, a nation of only 4.2 million that is under enormous pressure now hosting an incredible 257 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants.

The earliest traces of habitation in Beirut date from the Stone Age when the area now occupied by the city was in fact two islands in the delta of the Beirut River.

Later, when the river silted up, the area became one land mass.

Five years ago, Syria had one of the highest primary school enrollment rates in the Arab world and a literacy rate that surpassed the regional average to reach 90 percent for both men and women.