Official name: Lebanese Republic
Area: 10,400 square kilometers (4,015 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Qurnat as-Sawdā (3,088 meters/10,132 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 217 kilometers (135 miles) from northeast to southwest; 56 kilometers (35 miles) from northwest to southeast
Land boundaries: 454 kilometers (282 miles) total boundary length; Israel 79 kilometers (49 miles); Syria 375 kilometers (233 miles)
Coastline: 225 kilometers (140 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
Lebanon is a small Middle Eastern country located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. With a total area of 10,400 square kilometers (4,015 square miles), it is about three-fourths as large as the state of Connecticut.
Lebanon has no territories or dependencies.
Lebanon has a subtropical, temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, humid winters. Temperatures rarely exceed 32°C (90°F). Average temperatures in Beirut are 28°C (82°F) in the summer and 13°C (55°F) in the winter. Temperatures are cooler in the mountains. Average annual rainfall ranges from about 38 centimeters (15 inches) in the Bekáa Valley, to 89 centimeters (35 inches) on the coast, to over 127 centimeters (50 inches) in the mountains. Four-fifths of the annual rainfall occurs in the winter months, between November and March. The peaks of the Lebanon Mountains are snow-covered from winter to spring.
Lebanon is mostly mountainous. Its dominant topographical feature is a central range spanning most of the country's length and reaching almost to the coast. In addition to this range—called the Lebanon Mountains—there are three other distinct geographical regions: a narrow coastal plain; a second mountain system in the east, on the border with Syria (the Anti-Lebanon and Hermon ranges); and the Bekáa Valley, which separates the coastal and interior mountains. The Bekáa Valley belongs to the same geological rift that continues southward to become the Jordan River Valley and the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa.
Lebanon is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
Lebanon has a relatively smooth coastline with no major indentations. It has few good natural harbors but instead has many shallow, curved bays. The northern part of the coast is mostly rocky; south of Beirut, it becomes sandy in places.
Lebanon has no inland lakes.
Lebanon has few year-round rivers. Its most important, and longest, river is the Al-Lītānī, which drains into the Mediterranean near the city of Tyre. Another major river is the Orontes, which flows through the northern Bekáa Valley into Syria and then into Turkey before emptying into the Mediterranean.
Lebanon has no actual deserts.
A narrow plain, whose shore is alternately sandy and rocky, rims Lebanon's Mediterranean coast; in the north, this plain widens into the 'Akkar Plain.
The Lebanon Mountains extend about 161 kilometers (100 miles) northeast to southwest, or nearly the entire length of the country. Its peaks rise rapidly from the coast, reaching their highest elevations in the northern part of the country and gradually decreasing in elevation as they extend southward. To the east, Lebanon's border with Syria is demarcated by a second mountain system composed of two different ranges, the Anti-Lebanon Mountains to the north and the Hermon range to the south. The interior mountains are generally lower than those to the west, although Mount Hermon, which rises to 2,813 meters (9,232 feet), is the country's second-highest peak.
Lebanon has no actual canyons or caves.
The name Lebanon comes from the Arabic name for the Lebanon Mountains, Djebel Libnan, which means "milky-white mountains" (a reference to its snow-covered peaks).
The fertile Bekáa Valley separates Lebanon's two parallel mountain systems, reaching maximum elevations of around 914 meters (3,000 feet). Extending the entire length of the Lebanon Mountains, it constitutes the country's greatest expanse of essentially level terrain.
In 1999, the al-Ola, al-Griah, Alman, and Senik Bridges, which together connected the capital city of Beirut to the southern part of the country, were destroyed in Israeli air attacks aimed at terrorist bases in the country. Iran subsequently agreed to fund reconstruction of the bridges.
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Reid, Carlton, Kathryn Leigh, and Jamie Kennedy. Lebanon: A Travel Guide . Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Kindlife, 1995.
Arabnet. http://www.arab.net/lebanon/lebanon_contents.html (accessed April 9, 2003).
"Center for Middle Eastern Studies." University of Texas at Austin. http://inic.utexas.edu/menic/Countries_and_Regions/Lebanon/ (accessed April 24, 2003).