From the earliest times Tripoli in north Lebanon was an unusual city due to its configuration for it was not one city but ‘three cities in one", hence its name Tripolis or the "Tri-city". Built on a rocky promontory on the East Mediterranean coast, Tripoli stood halfway between the great rival commercial centers of Antioch and Tyre. Its geographical and strategic position was further enhanced by the presence of offshore islands, natural ports and its proximity to the hinterland. Tripoli thus inevitably played a predominant role in political and economic developments in the region and the Middle East for over two millenia.
Geography has been the determining factor which has influenced the history of Lebanon’s port cities since the dawn of Time. The narrow and irregular coastal strip of Lebanon is cut up by rivets, deep river gorges and steep ravines. The early inhabitants of this land known in ancient times as Canaanites, later as Phoenicians, found themselves hemmed in between the Mediterranean and the mountains of Lebanon which rise abruptly from the sea. These particular geographical conditions, thousands of years ago, led to the establishment of a series of independent city-states on rocky headlands jutting out to sea. Each city-state was separated from the other by insurmountable natural barriers so in order to communicate the inhabitants turned to the sea. With an unlimited supply of coniferous wood covering