The meaning of its name is vague and many suppositions were found: one saying that it means the processing of metal (Shewah) another theory is the Arabic origin of the name meaning a kind of tree that is used for silk production (a flourishing industry in this village).
Historically, it was a Christian town, but it became partly inhabited by Shias. During the Ottoman period, it used to be governed by the Arslan family and later on by the Shihab dynasty.
Chiyah is located in the south-west suburbs of the capital Beirut bordered by Haret-Hreik, Ghobeiry, Hadath, Hazmieh, Furn-el-chebbak and Ain El Remanneh. However, before 1956, it used to cover larger areas including current districts Karm el Zeitoun, Hayy el Knissé, Bir Abed and Haret el Mjadlé as well as Jnah, Ghobeiry, Furn-el-chebbak, Bir Hassan, and Ain El Remanneh.
The city was once covered with citrus orchards and extending to the Mediterranean Sea, today, it is a full part of the demographically huge Beirut outskirts totalling around 60,000 inhabitants.