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Pigeon Rocks, Beirut, Lebanon, 2005

Photo: Pigeon Rocks

Dressed in traditional Islamic abayas, two women search for a place to picnic near Beirut, Lebanon's famous Pigeon Rocks in 2005. Although Lebanon is about 60 percent Muslim, it also has large Christian and Druze populations, making it one of the most diverse countries in the Middle East.

Just over four miles (seven kilometers) from Beirut's city center, Israeli aircraft bombed Lebanon's international airport on July 13, 2006. The air strikes were in retaliation for the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of eight more the day before in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group based in Lebanon. Today, the conflict continues as Israel targets Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and its suburbs and Hezbollah sends rockets deep into Israel.

(Photograph shot on assignment for National Geographic magazine)

Photograph by Alexandra Avakian

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