The Climate, Environment, and Mineral Resources of Lebanon
Lebanon is a Middle East country that lies on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea which boarders Israel to the southern and Syria to the northern part of Mediterranean Sea. Its total land area is about 4,015 square miles which usually stretch along the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon is an Arab state where the Lebanese usually speak the Arabic and French with a current estimate population of 3,894,000, in which most of the population live in Beirut which is the capital city of Lebanon. In this write up it will focus and emphasize mainly on Lebanon’s climate, environment and its mineral resources.
The climatic condition of Lebanon is greatly influenced by its location and the different location experience different weather patterns. Gordon.D.C, (1983.p3) emphasised on Lebanon’s climate that “although the climate, generally, is moderate Mediterranean, there are different zones, each with its own particular characteristics”. And because Lebanon is located in the warmth temperate zone, it has a Mediterranean climate of wet, often with seasonal snowfall during winters and semi-hot to moderate warm during summers. It usually experiences for the most part a mild to cool climate because of the high mountains. The region receives limited rainfall particularly in the north, because of the direction of Mount Lebanon that creates a rain shadow blocking the precipitation coming from the sea. Lebanon has in general, a Mediterranean climate but with wide variety in climatic conditions which influence the climate to fluctuate having different climatic condition in different region.
In addition, the overall climate condition in the different regions of Lebanon is summarized by Gordon.D.C, (1983.p3) stating that “The coastal lowlands are moderately warm in summer, cold in winter; the high mountains are very cold and snow-covered during much of the period from September to April and refreshingly cool in summer; and the Biqa valley has low humidity in summer and is cold and has strong winds in winter”. The climate condition varies in these regions due to their different altitude whereby most mountain ranges experience covered peaks with snow fall all year around while the coastal having different seasons (wet and dry).
Moreover, rainfall is usually abundant on the whole region every year, but often decreases rapidly towards the east causing the Biqa Valley and the Anti-Lebanon to become warmer than the west. Annual rainfall on the coast is between 76 and 101 mm (30 and 40 in) with up to 127 mm in the mountains but only 38 mm (15 in) in the Biqa (www.http//.wikipedia.com). Almost all the rain falls between October and April, and the three summer months are completely dry. In Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon has an average mean temperature of 20.5°C (69°F). Average temperatures in the winter range from 13°C (55°F) on the coast to 10°C (50°F) inland while temperatures in summer range from 29°C (84°F) on the coast to 30°C (86°F) inland. (www.http//.wikipedia.com)
The landforms of Lebanon are particularly defined by its rugged terrain that consist of two parallel mountains ranges called the Lebanon and the anti-Lebanon mountains. These two mountains are separated by a great fertile valley called Biqa (Bekaa). Encyclopaedia International (1975.p437) stressed that “topographically, Lebanon is divided into four geographical regions: the coastal plain, the coastal mountain range, the central plateau and the eastern mountain range”. Of the four regions, the mountain ranges dominate or cover about three-quarter of the total landmass in Lebanon. Early geographer Hodgkinson.G, (1979.p409) describe the Lebanon landforms stating that “the Lebanon is primarily made up of many high raised and rugged mountains surrounding almost the entire country”
Along the coastal region which is the coastal plain (the maritime plain) is made up of an extremely narrow coastal strip stretches along the shore of the eastern Mediterranean. The strip forms a margin in between sea and mountain, and is about 12kilometres wide in the north, sometimes disappears where the mountains reach the sea (World book, 2013.p172). The coastal plain has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches that stretch all the way down along the Mediterranean coast. The coastal plain itself extend to about 130 miles (209 kilometres).And because the Lebanon landforms were mostly mountainous and rugged, the coastal region provides an ideal location for settlement, which allows most of the population to settle along the Mediterranean coast where farming and trading activities were much easier and productive.
The second geological region is the coastal mountain range called the Anti-Lebanon Mountains runs along the country’s eastern border between Syria and Lebanon. The border is usually located along the crest of the range, but most of the range lies in Syria. The Anti- Lebanon range is approximately 150 kilometres (93 miles) in length (World encyclopaedia p. 422) .These clusters of mountain ranges are mostly made up of limestone with heavy snow fall covering much of the mountain ranges. The characteristics and influences of limestone and snowfall create some of the significant geological sites that are found along the range. The well-known limestone cave called the Jeita Grotto is said to have a system of two separate, but interconnected limestone cave spanning an overall length of nearly 9 kilometres. (World book, p.116)
The third geographical region is the fertile valley called the Bekaa. It is located in the central highlands and lies in between Mount Lebanon to the west and Anti- Lebanon to the east. The Bekaa valley is about 177 kilometres (110 mi) in length and 9.6 to 16 kilometres wide and has an average elevation of 762 metres (2,500 ft.). (World book, 2011. p.112) The Bekaa valley is one of the most fertile valley, and also the Lebanon’s most important farming region where many industries flourishes in Bekaa, especially that related to agriculture in which much of the Bekaa is used for farming vegetables. Geographically, the Biqa is the medial part of a depression that extends north to the western bend of the Orontes River in Syria and south to Jordan through Al Arabah to Al Aqabah, the eastern arm of the Red Sea.(World book.2011.p114)
The other mountain ranges called the Lebanon Mountains (or Mount Lebanon) are the highest, most rugged, and most imposing of the whole maritime range of mountains and plateaus in Lebanon. Through a geological study Dreier D. confirms that “the ranges start with the Amanus or Nur Mountains in northern Syria and end with the towering massif of Sinai. The rugged Lebanon Mountains rise east of the coastal plain, extend from north to south, and stretch down mostly towards Israel with the length of about 100 miles (1600 kilometres)”.The Lebanon Mountains usually consist of a series of imposing crests and ridges, and with much of the rocky terrain it forms some of the distinct landmarks and the most famous is the country’s highest peaks which is the Qurnat as Sawda with the height of 3,083 meters (10,115 ft.) above sea level(http://wikipedia.com). Lebanon is perhaps the most attractive region in the Middle East, because of its stunning and breathe-taking view that the mountain ranges compose.
The flora of Lebanon includes approximately 2,600 plant species situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Basin. Research and discovery has been carried out in this particular area and the scientists suggest that Lebanon is a reservoir of plant diversity and one of the world’s biodiversity hotspot for conservation priorities, claiming that “the Endemic species constitute 12% of the Lebanese flora, 22 species are broad endemics and 90 are narrow endemics”(http://www.wikipedia.com).The natural vegetation of Lebanon has been threatened by overexploitation and fragmentation as the result of urban expansion, overgrazing, tourism and the impact of warfare.
The cedar of Lebanon is the national symbol of the country: growing in the Lebanon mountain range, these trees has been heavily harvested over the years for their valuable timber and few mature trees still remain. Nevertheless, Lebanon is more heavily wooded than most other countries in the region and pine, oak, fir, beech; cypress and juniper are to be found in the mountain areas although the Beqaa valley has little tree cover. Where timber has been extracted and woodland destroyed, shrubs has taken over.
In the Lebanon mountain area this is mostly Ceratonia, oak and Pistacia, and in the Anti-Lebanon Range the scrub is mostly Pistacia and wild almond. Other native trees such as the Lebanese wild apple, Judas tree and Syrian maple are being grown experimentally as a conservation strategy to see if they can be used for container production.
Unlike many other Middle East countries Lebanon is not a famous country in terms of its mineral resources. It is because of the natural resources that are found in Lebanon are limited and include limestone, iron ore and salt. Dickey .N.H, (1876.p29) stated that “iron ore exist, but is difficult to mine, also with other minerals found in small quantities like coal, copper, asphalt ,and phosphates. The mining sector of Lebanon usually produced limestone, iron ore and silicon in a small scale and caters mostly to local needs. The quarrying of these mineral resources are then produced into industrial mineral commodities for constriction purposes particularly limestone and silica for cement manufacture. Also there are no petroleum or gas reserves in Lebanon to further support their economy.
In addition, the production of these mineral resources that are converted into industrial mineral commodities involves the making of many varieties of strong chemical products such as gypsum (a mineral consisting of the hydrated calcium sulphate), aluminium sulphate, lime, limestone, phosphate fertilizer, phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid and salt. However, it did not produce any metals or mineral fuels; the leading mineral commodity was limestone. Although Lebanon had a great demand for steel products, the country has not produced it in large quantities, but produced semi manufactured iron and steel purposely for their own and specific use and also to cater for their own needs (http://minerals.usgs.gov.minerals/pubs/country/2010/myb3-2010-le.pdf) Moreover, currently there has been a modest deposit of asphalt and coal in the ranges of Mount Lebanon. Studies have been carried out and the existence of these mineral was already known but the Lebanon government are yet to officially declare it as a mine to extract these minerals.
All in all Lebanon is a republic state in the Middle East, situated in the Asian continent towards the Mediterranean region. Due to being in the Mediterranean zone much of its physical features like landforms and vegetation are greatly determined by its location, so as its climate condition, people and their lifestyle. Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East that does not have a desert, but for the most part is mountainous with rugged terrain. Despite having limited mineral resources in their country Lebanon land area is arable and suitable for farming with an addition of long sandy coastline and a perfectly fertile valley that the people depend greatly in terms of trade and commerce for their survival, especially the rural population.
• David.C.G.1983.The Republic of Lebanon. Westview Press,Inc. U.S.A
• Dickey.N.H.1876.Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Funk & Wagnalls Corporation.
• David.D.2011.The world Book Encycloprdia of People and Places. World Book, Inc.
• Encyclopaedia International.1975.Grolier Incorporated. Canada.
• Geoffry.H.1979.The International Geographic Encyclopaedia and Atlas. Columbia University Press. London.
• World book Encyclopedia.2013. World book, Inc. Chicago. U.S.A.Vol 12.