Tyre, Lebanon

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Sour (Lebanese Arabic)
Submerged ancient columns with the skyline of the modern city in the background.
Submerged ancient columns with the skyline of the modern city in the background.
Image courtesy of the NASA Johnson Space Center
Tyre is located in Lebanon
Coordinates: 33°16′15″N 35°11′46″E / 33.27083°N 35.19611°E / 33.27083; 35.19611Coordinates: 33°16′15″N 35°11′46″E / 33.27083°N 35.19611°E / 33.27083; 35.19611
Country Lebanon
GovernorateSouth Governorate
MunicipalitiesAbbassieh, Ain Baal, Borj Ech Chemali, Sour
Establishedc. 2750 BCE
 • City4 km2 (2 sq mi)
 • Metro
17 km2 (7 sq mi)
 • City60,000
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Criteriaiii, vi
Designated1984 (8th session)
Reference no.299

Tyre (/ˈtaɪər/; Arabic: صور, romanizedṢūr; Phoenician: 𐤑𐤓, romanized: Ṣūr, Greek Tyros, Τύρος) is a city in Lebanon, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world,[1] though in medieval times for some centuries by just a tiny population. It was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises and the legendary birthplace of Europa, her brothers Cadmus and Phoenix, as well as Carthage's founder Dido (Elissa). The city has many ancient sites, including the Tyre Hippodrome, and was added as a whole to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1984.[2] The historian Ernest Renan noted that "One can call Tyre a city of ruins, built out of ruins".[3][4]

Today Tyre is the fourth largest city in Lebanon after Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon.[5] It is the capital of the Tyre District in the South Governorate. There were approximately 200,000 inhabitants in the Tyre urban area in 2016, including many refugees, as the city hosts three of the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon: Burj El Shimali, El Buss, and Rashidieh.[6]


Tyre juts out from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and is located about 80 km (50 mi) south of Beirut. It originally consisted of two distinct urban centres: Tyre itself, which was on an island just offshore, and the associated settlement of Ushu on the adjacent mainland, later called Palaetyrus, meaning "Old Tyre" in Ancient Greek.[7]

Throughout history from prehistoric times onwards, all settlements in the Tyre area profited from the abundance of fresh water supplies, especially from the nearby springs of Rashidieh and Ras Al Ain in the South. In addition there are the springs of Al Bagbog and Ain Ebreen in the North as well as the Litani River, also known as Alqasymieh.[8] The present city of Tyre covers a large part of the original island and has expanded onto and covers most of the causeway built by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. This isthmus increased greatly in width over the centuries because of extensive silt depositions on either side. The part of the original island not covered by the modern city of Tyre is mostly of an archaeological site showcasing remains of the city from ancient times.

Four municipalities contribute to Tyre city's 16.7 km2 built-up area, though none are included in their entirety: Sour municipality contains the heart of the city, excluding the Natural and Coastal Reserve; Burj El Shimali to the East without unpopulated agricultural lands; Abbasiyet Sour to the North without agricultural lands and a dislocated village; and Ain Baal to the South-East, also without agricultural lands and dislocated villages. Tyre's urban area lies on a fertile coastal plain, which explains the fact that as of 2017 about 44% of its territory was used for intra-urban agriculture, while built-up land constituted over 40%.[6]

In terms of geomorphology and seismicity, Tyre is close to the Roum Fault and the Yammouneh Fault. Though it has suffered a number of devastating earthquakes over the millennia, the threat level is considered to be low in most places and moderate in a few others. However, a tsunami following an earthquake and subsequent landslides and floods pose major natural risks to the Tyrian population.[6]

Vast reserves of natural gas are estimated to lie beneath Lebanese waters, much of it off Tyre's coast, but exploitation has been delayed by border disputes with Israel.[9]


Early names of Tyre include Akkadian Ṣurru, Phoenician Ṣūr (𐤑𐤓‎), and Hebrew Ṣōr (צוֹר).[10] In Semitic languages, the name of the city means "rock"[11] after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built.

The predominant form in Classical Greek was Týros (Τύρος), which was first seen in the works of Herodotus but may have been adopted considerably earlier.[10] It gave rise to Latin Tyrus, which entered English during the Middle English period as Tyre.[12] The demonym for Tyre is Tyrian, and the inhabitants are Tyrians.


Tyre has a Hot-summer mediterranean climate (classified as Csa under the Köppen climate classification), characterized by six months of drought from May to October. On average, it has 300 days of sun a year and a yearly temperature of 20.8°C. The average maximum temperature reaches its highest at 30.8 °C in August and the average minimum temperature its lowest at 10 °C in January. On average, the mean annual precipitation reaches up to 645 mm. The temperature of the sea water reaches a minimum of 17 °C in February and a maximum of 32 °C in August. At a depth of 70 m it is constantly at 17–18 °C.[13]

Meanwhile, rising sea levels due to global warming threaten coastal erosion to Tyre's peninsula and bay areas.[14]