Beyrout, Or Beirut (Anc. Berytus), a town nnd the chief seaport of Syria, 55 m. N. W. of Damascus; pop. about 70,000, one third of whom are Moslems, and the rest Christians, Jews, Druses, and foreign residents. It is built on a triangular promontory, the apex projecting 3 m. into the sea and the base running along the foot of Mt. Lebanon. The situation is singularly beautiful, and the climate mild and healthy.
The old city is a dense nucleus of substantial buildings with narrow streets on the shore, whence extends a broad margin of picturesque villas with gardens running up to the summit of the heights. Beyond these are mulberry groves. The streets in the suburbs are wide and passable for carriages, and the houses, which are built of stone, are spacious. The population has nearly doubled within the last few years, partly owing to the opening of commerce with Europe, which has proved very successful, and partly in consequence of the mas-saore at Damascus in 1860, after which numbers of the Christians there removed to Beyrout. The harbor is partly tilled with sand, and vessels have to anchor in the road, or in St. George's hay. so called from the legend that St. George killed the dragon near that place. Beyroul is alternately with Damascus, for six months of the year, the seat of the governor of the vilayet of Syria, as organized in 1865. It is also the residence of the consuls general of most of the European powers and of the United States. It has Greek, United Greek, and United Syrian archbishops, a Jesuit college with a printing office, and a convent of Sisters of Charity. It is the centre of the American Protestant missions in Syria, with a literary and medical college and a theological seminary; and there are two Protestant religious journals in Arabic, and a house of German Protestant deaconesses.
A large number of Europeans reside here, which has had the effect of giving new force and vitality to commerce. A macadamized road to Damascus has been built by a French company; and silk-winding establishments, iron works, cotton factories, banking houses, etc, are conducted mainly by foreigners. The exports are chiefly grain, wool, cotton, raw silk, hides. tobacco, oils, soap, hemp, drugs, tigs, raisins, and native wines; the imports from the United States, Europe, and Egypt are kerosene, broad-oloth, woollen, cotton, linen, and silk stuffs, rice, sugar, coffee, and foreign wines and other deli-pacies. The importation of American petroleum during the year 1870 amounted to $120 -49l 28. The exports to America, mainly of wool for the same period amounted to $85 - 840 06; -Bejront is supposed to have 'been founded by the Phoenicians, although the first mention of it in classical writings is made by Strabo. Some critics identify it with the Berothah or Berothai of Scripture. In 140 B C it was destroyed by Diodotua Tryphon the usurper of the throne of Syria. After its'capture by the Romans and restoration in the tune of Augustus by Agrippa, it became a Roman colony under the name of Julia Augusta Felix Berytus. Under Claudius it was em-bellished by the erection of magnificent theatres, amphitheatres, and other edifices; and under Caracalla it was surnumed Antoniniana. Here Titus after the destruction of Jerusalem celebrated the birthday of his father Vespasian by combats of gladiators, in which a great number of the captive Jews perished.
Later it became celebrated as a seat of learning, and particularly of law, and attracted students from distant lands. The emperor Theodosius II. made it a metropolis. In 551 an earthquake laid the town in ruins, and before it was completely restored it fell into the hands of the conquering Moslems, who destroyed alike agriculture, commerce, architecture, and literature. In 1110 it was captured by the crusaders under Baldwin I., and was comprised within the kingdom of Jerusalem. It was again captured by
Saladin and retaken by the crusaders, in whose hands it remained till the overthrow of their power in 1291. From that period till the commencement of the 17th century it remained an insignificant place; but the Druse prince Fakreddin rebuilt it as the seat of his government. In 1772 a Russian fleet bombarded and plundered the city. With the Egyptian invasion of Syria Beyrout passed into the possession of Mehemet Ali; but in 1840 the English licet bombarded it and drove out the Egyptians.