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Geography of Lebanon


Situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon has an area of 10,400 km² (4,015 mi²), extending 217 km (135 mi) northeast to southwest and 56 km (35 mi) southeast to northwest. It is bordered on the north and east by Syria, on the south by Israel, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, with a total boundary length of 679 km (422 mi), of which 225 km (140 mi) is coastline. Comparatively, the area occupied by Lebanon is about half the size of Israel or three-fourths the size of the state of Connecticut.

The Lebanon of today is the Greater Lebanon (Grand Liban) created by France in September 1920, which includes the traditional area of Mount Lebanon – the hinterland of the coastal strip from Sidon to Tripoli – some coastal cities and districts such as Beirut and Tripoli, and the Bekaa Valley in the east. Since January 1988, more than two-thirds of the territory was under foreign military occupation. In May 2000, Israeli troops withdrew from a 1,000 km² (400 mi²) strip along the Israeli border. Syrian forces, which had held northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley since 1976 and West Beirut and the Beirut-Sidon coastal strip since February 1987, withdrew in April 2005. Lebanon's capital city, Beirut, is located on the Mediterranean coast.

The name of the country comes from the name Djebel Libnan, which is the Arabic name for the Mount Lebanon range stretching from northeast to southwest through the centre of the country. This area is rugged; there is a rise from sea level to a parallel mountain range of about 2,000-3,000 m (6,600-9,800 ft) in less than 40 km (25 mi), and heavy downpour of winter rains has formed many deep clefts and valleys in the soft rock. the terrain has profoundly affected the country's history, in that virtually the whole landscape is a series of superb natural fortresses from which guerilla activities can render the maintenance of control by a centralized government an intermittent and costly affair.

East of the Mount Lebanon Range is the Bekaa Valley, an extremely fertile flatland about 16 km (10 mi) wide and 129 km (80 mi) long from north to south. At the eastern flank of the Bekaa rise the Anti-Lebanon Range and the Hermon extension, in which stands Mount Hermon straddling the border with Syria. Lebanon contains few rivers, and its harbours are mostly shallow and small. Abundant springs, found to a height of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) on the western slopes of the Lebanon Mountains, provide water for cultivation up to this height.

Lebanon's extraordinarily varied climate is due mainly to the wide range of elevation and the westerly winds that make the Mediterranean coast much wetter than the eastern hills, mountainsides, and valleys. Within a 16-km (10-mi) radius of many villages, apples, olives, and bananas are grown; within 45 minutes' drive in winter, spring, and fall, both skiing and swimming are possible. Rainfall is abundant by Middle Eastern standards, with about 89 cm (35 in) yearly along the coast, about 127 cm (50 in) on the western slopes of the mountains, and less than 38 cm (15 in) in the Bekaa. About 80% of the rain falls from November to March, mostly in December, January, and February. Summer is a dry season, but it is humid along the coast. The average annual temperature in Beirut is 21°C (70°F), with a range from 13°C (55°F) in winter to 28°C (82°F) in summer.


Location : Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Israel and Syria
Geographic coordinates : 33 50 N, 35 50 E
Map references : Middle East

: total: 10,400 sq km
land: 10,230 sq km
water: 170 sq km
Area - comparative : about half the size of Israel or three-fourths the size of the state of Connecticut, USA
Land boundaries : total: 454 km
border countries: Israel 79 km, Syria 375 km
Coastline : 225 km
Maritime claims : territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate : Mediterranean; mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers; Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows
Terrain : narrow coastal plain; El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains
Elevation extremes
: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Qornet es Saouda 3,088 m
Natural resources
: limestone, iron ore, salt, water-surplus state in a water-deficit region, arable land/td>
Land use : arable land: 16.35%
permanent crops: 13.75%
other: 69.9% (2005)
Irrigated land : 900 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources : 4.8 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural) : total: 1.38 cu km/yr (33%/1%/67%)
per capita: 385 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards : dust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current issues : deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Beirut from vehicular traffic and the burning of industrial wastes; pollution of coastal waters from raw sewage and oil spills
Environment - international agreements : party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note : Nahr el Litani is the only major river in Near East not crossing an international boundary; rugged terrain historically helped isolate, protect, and develop numerous factional groups based on religion, clan, and ethnicity




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