Lebanon is a small country of only 10,452 sq km, from north to south
it extends 217 km and from east to west it spans 80 km at its widest
point. The country is bounded by Syria on both the north and east
and by Israel on the south.
Lebanon's landforms fall into four parallel belts that run from
northeast to southwest: a narrow coastal plain along the Mediterranean
shore. The country's name comes from the old Semitic word laban,
meaning "white," which refers to the heavy snow in the mountains.
Most of Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers,
and cool, wet winters, although the climate varies somewhat across
the landform belts.
The coastal plain is subtropical, with 900 mm (35 in) of annual
rainfall and a mean temperature in Beirut of 27° C (80° F) in summer
and 14° C (57° F) in winter.
In the Lebanon Mountains, temperatures decrease and precipitation
increases with elevation. Heavy winter snows linger well into summer,
making the Lebanon Mountains more pleasant in the summer than the
humid coast, higher altitudes receive as much as 1,275 mm (50 in)
of annual precipitation.
The Bekaa Valley and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains are situated in
the rain shadow of the Lebanon Mountains and as a result have hot,
dry summers and cold winters with occasional rain.