Lebanon and its capital city of Beirut had a pretty lousy reputation in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to the civil war that gripped the country. Things leveled out somewhat after 1990, and tourism saw a rise in Beirut, the "Paris of the Middle East," and along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Lately, the war with Israel has escalated to the point that the U.S. State Department cautions American citizens from visiting at all. Americans, unlike in some other countries, are often the target of terrorist organizations. Palestinian groups and militant organizations like Hezbollah operate unchecked in some parts of Lebanon. In May 2008, Hezbollah militants blocked the road to the airport, effectively shutting down traffic into and out of the country. Since then, things have calmed somewhat and new elections have yielded a president and cabinet, but U.S. officials remain cautious about the potential for violence. Crime is limited to petty street crime mainly, although carjacking and armed robberies do occur.
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