Migration Patterns

Since the second half of the 19th century most of Lebanon’s economic and cultural activities have taken place in Beirut. The city currently boasts the country’s main port, its only international airport, houses the government offices, and is the main cultural and educational centre. Beirut has therefore attracted various waves of newcomers, such as rural migrants, elites and low - skilled refugees from peripheral areas of Lebanon, Armenian and Christian refugees from Ottoman Turkey and other areas, Arab refugees and migrant workers from neighbouring countries, South East Asia and Sub - Saharan Africa.

Often settling at the periphery of the city, these migrants have contributed to redefine the contours of the city. Following the Lebanese Civil War (1975 – 1990), which forced entire populations to flee the city or settle at its borders, reconstruction projects reaffirmed the physical expansion of the city.

Migrant Population

There are about 300 000 refugees are settled in Greater Beirut, but estimates suggest a share of refugees in the city of up to 20%. More than half of refugees (58%) are from Syria, around 41% are Palestinian and 1.4% Palestinians from Syria. Most Palestinians (74%) are settled outside the official camps of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East in low – income neighbourhoods along with Lebanese as well as Syrians and other migrant workers. Out of the 200 000 migrant workers in Lebanon, more than 70 000 are Ethiopians, followed by about 50 000 Bangladeshis and 25 000 Filipinos, most of them being female domestic workers.


This text is retrieved from: ICMPD, MC2CM, (2016). City Migration Profile: Beirut; Mediterranean City-to-City Migration; Dialogue, Knowledge and Action. 

Other Sources

Akram (2019). No Rainbow, No Integration: LGBTQI+ Refugees in Hiding; A Case Study of Refugees in Towns.

UNFPA Lebanon and Danish Refugee Council (2018). Youth Mixed Migration in Beirut: Driving Factors, Lived Experiences, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: A Pilot Study.

Gustafsson, J. (2020). To Beirut with hope: how the city shaped by refugees makes room for new arrivals; The Guardian.


MC2CM Publications
City Practice Poster
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City Practice Poster - Beirut 1.11 MB
General Overview
Political and Administrative Context

Municipal Beirut has a clear demarcation as a city with a dual status of a governorate and a municipality. It has a surface area of 19.6 km2 and a population of some 400 000. The built environment is estimated to occupy around 66% of its total area.

Greater Beirut is an ambiguous term encom- passing Beirut and its surrounding suburbs. Its borders are not clearly defined and stretch from the Damour River to the South of the air- port, Nahr al - Kalb River to the North, the hilly areas of Mount Lebanon to the East, and the Mediterranean to the West for an estimated surface area of 67 km2.

City and Migrant Population Data
Total population 403,337 (Municipal Beirut)
2,226,000 (Greater Beirut)
Migrant population 239,005
Year 2012/2019
Source ICMPD
Metadata Migrants should be understood here as Syrian refugees (UNCHR)
City Migration Profile Executive Summary - Beirut
MC2CM Migration Poster - Beirut