Lebanon is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by Syria to the north and east, and bordered by Israel to the south. It’s one of the world’s smallest countries, measuring roughly 180km (110mi) from north to south and 50km (30mi) from east to west. Despite its modest size, it has a number of completely different geographical regions. There’s a very narrow, broken, coastal strip which contains all the major cities.
Inland, the Mount Lebanon Range rises steeply to a dramatic set of peaks and ridges – the highest, Qornet as-Sawda, is over 3000m (9840ft). Further inland, the range drops steeply to the 150km (92mi) long Bekaa Valley, which runs parallel to the coast at an elevation of 1000m (3280ft). The Bekaa is a major wine producing region and, until recently, a major producer of cannabis. The Anti-Lebanon range rises in a sheer arid massif to the east of the Bekaa Valley, forming a natural border with Syria.
The most famous flora in Lebanon – the cedar tree – is now found on only a few mountaintop sites, notably at Bcharré and near Barouk in the Chouf Mountains. These lonely groves are all that remain of Lebanon’s great cedar forests which, in biblical times, covered much of the country. That said, Lebanon is still the most densely wooded of all the Middle Eastern countries: many varieties of pine flourish on the mountains and much of the coastal land is cultivated with fruit trees.
Lebanon’s mountain areas are home to birds of prey, and the nature reserve near Ehden has golden and imperial eagles, buzzards, red kites, Bonelli’s eagles, Sardinian warblers and Scop’s owls. Marine birds, both resident and migratory, can be spotted in the Palm Islands Park off the coast of Tripoli. Green turtles and Mediterranean monk seals inhabit the waters surrounding the park. As for wild land mammals in Lebanon, there’s nothing more exciting than the odd hedgehog.
Lebanon’s ecology has been under a lot of pressure due to the civil war and increasing industrialisation. During the war, pollutants and rubbish were dumped in the sea and rivers, and unplanned buildings sprang up everywhere. Lack of government control meant that unlawful quarrying and logging went unchecked in many mountain areas. Various conservation organisations are attempting to rectify the damage and protect the natural environment with legislation and reserved areas.
With such a diverse topography, it isn’t surprising that the weather varies considerably from region to region. Broadly speaking, Lebanon has three different climate zones – the coastal strip, the mountains and the Bekaa Valley. The coastal strip has cool, rainy winters and hot, sometimes stifling, Mediterranean summers. The mountains have a typical alpine climate.
Many people head to the hills to escape the oppressive summers of Beirut and come back again in winter for the snow. The Bekaa Valley has hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters with snow, frost and fierce winds.
Lebanon, the motherland of the Phoenicians, is at the crossroad of three major continents; Europe, Africa and Asia. It is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
Lebanon has witnessed the succession of various civilizations that have left their mark on it, making of it a major archeological treasure for the world. Indeed, many places have been classified as world heritage sites.
Lebanon, with a total area of 10452 km˛, is situated east of the Mediterranean sea and stretches about 240 km along the coast and 50 km inland. Lebanon can be divided from west to east into four parallel spaces:
The narrow coastal plain which widens at the northern extreme of the country. The mount Lebanon range running parallel to the sea and overlooking the coastal plain, the highest crest of which is over 3000 meters. The elongated Beqaa plain at an average altitude of 900m, once named “the silos of Rome”, separating the two mountain chains.
The Anti Lebanon range, with an average altitude of 2300m, on the eastern side. These differences make the drive through Lebanon exciting as it reveals a variety of breathtaking countryside.
The climate of Lebanon is typically Mediterranean, enriched by four distinct seasons, each with its own particularity and charm. However, the sun is present all year round making of Lebanon the country where you can swim in the sea and yet ski an hour later on its snow covered mountains.
Lebanon’s population is around 4 millions mainly concentrated on the coastal cities.
The Lebanese are known for their kindness. Their sense of hospitality makes visitors feel both welcome and at ease. Lebanese people are well educated. Although Arabic is the official language, English and French are widely spoken.