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Lebanon

Lebanon, ancient Libanus, mountain range, c.100 mi (160 km) long, paralleling the Mediterranean Sea from S Lebanon N into Syria and rising steeply from the coast. Qurnet as Sawda (10,131 ft/3,088 m) is the highest peak. A great fault line, site of the fertile Al Biqa valley, separates the Lebanon from the Anti-Lebanon Mts. to the east. The Litani River rises in the valley and flows west, through deep gorges in the Lebanon, to the Mediterranean. The mountains were famed in ancient times for the huge, old cedars that extended in a narrow strip for 85 mi (137 km) along the upper western slope of the range. However, these trees were depleted by long use as a building material and a fuel, and only 10 small isolated groves remain. Apples, olives, and apricots are grown in large orchards. Through history the Lebanon Mts. have provided refuge for persecuted minorities, such as the Druze and the Maronites, who settled on the fertile middle slopes. Many springs, fed by the melting snow, exit from the mountainside and make intensive irrigation possible. Clusters of villages are found on the terraced slopes. The eastern and western slopes have become summer and ski resorts.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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