This small, mountainous country lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. It is bordered by Syria on the north and east and by Israel on the south. With an area of some 10,400 sq km/4,000 sq mi, it is a little smaller than the state of Connecticut.
The general weather and climatic conditions of Lebanon are similar to those described for Syria. Temperature and precipitation, however, vary greatly from place to place because of the large differences of altitude. Snow lies on the higher mountains until mid-June and some small patches survive throughout the dry, sunny summer.
The country consists of two parallel mountain ranges, running from north to south: the Lebanon Mountains on the west and the Anti-Lebanon range with Mount Hermon on the east. These mountains rise to an average height of over 1,800 m/6,000 ft but with summits exceeding 3,000 m/10,000 ft.
These ranges are separated by a narrow north to south valley, El Béqaa, which is everywhere above 1,000 m/3,300 ft. There is a very narrow plain along the Mediterranean coast.
Summers are warm to hot with a rather high humidity on the coast so that the nights may be muggy and a little unpleasant. The daytime heat is usually tempered by an afternoon sea breeze. Winters are very mild along the coast (see the table for Beirut). Winter rainfall can be heavy on the coast and falls as snow on the Lebanon Mountains.
Inland the El Béqaa valley and the eastern mountains are much drier; but no part of Lebanon is a desert such as is found extensively in Syria and Jordan. Summers are delightfully sunny, fresh, and cool in the mountains, where there are numerous summer resorts. From the higher mountain resorts skiing is possible from late December until April or May.
It is often said that, in winter and spring, one can ski in the morning and swim in the Mediterranean in the afternoon. Visitors may find the Mediterranean a little cool for swimming before May, however, and to do both in one day requires fairly rapid transit by car on mountain roads!
Conditions inland and in the El Béqaa valley are represented by the table for Ksara. Winters are drier but cooler than on the coast, with frequent snow and frost.
On the coast and in the Lebanon Mountains the winter rain and snow may be very heavy, and disturbed weather brought by Mediterranean depressions may last for several days at a time. In between these unsettled spells of weather there are long periods when it is fine, mild, and sunny.
In early and late summer Lebanon is often affected, for a few days at a time, by the hot, dry khamsin which blows out of Arabia. These winds bring the hottest days and conditions may then be distinctly unpleasant with danger of heat stress.
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