Lebanon Essay

3061 words - 13 pages

Written by: The ProphetEdited by: The MetallianLebanon, a nation that once proudly called itself the Switzerland of theMiddle East, is today a country in name only. Its government controlslittle more than half of the nation's capital, Beirut. Its once-vibranteconomy is a shambles. And its society is fragmented - so fragmented, somebelieve, that it may be impossible to re-create a unified state responsiveto the needs of all its varied peoples.Lebanon lies on the eastern shore of the Mediterranea n Sea, in that partof southwestern Asia known as the Middle East. Because of its location -at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa - Lebanon has been the centerof commerce and trade for ...view middle of the document...

Dependingon the time of day, they never appear the same twice, and from time to timewhipped white clouds hide all except their snow-capped peaks. Even on thedarkest night, the lights of the villages perched on the mountains shine insmall clusters as a reminder of their presence. On c loser view, themountains become a jumble of giant gorges, many of them over a thousandfeet deep, with rocky cliffs, steep ravines and awesome valleys. Theseunassailable bastions have offered a secure hideaway, throughout history,for hermits and persecuted groups seeking refuge.Lebanon has four distinct geographical regions: a narrow - but fertile -coastal plain; two roughly parallel mountain ranges that run the fulllength of the country - the Lebanon, which rises in the west to an alpinehei ght of 11,000 feet while the eastern range, the anti-Lebanon, iscrowned magestically by the snow-capped Mount Hermon at 9,232 feet. Thetwo chains of mountains shelter between them a well-cultivated plateauextending seventy miles in length and fifteen miles in width. Thistableland is called the Bekaa. This is a fertile strip of land 110 mileslong and six to ten miles wide. Zahle, the third largest city in thecountry, is in the valley. The country's two most important rivers, theLitani and the Orontes, rise in the northern Bekaa near Baalbek, a citythat dates to Roman times. The Litani flows southwest through the BekaaValley and then empties into the Mediterranean Sea north of Tyre. Itswaters are used for irrigation, so it becomes a mere tr ickle by the timeit gets to the sea. The Orontes rises not far from the Litani, but itflows northward between the two mountain ranges, wending its way intoSyria. Beyond the Bekaa and the anti-Lebanon mountains, the Syrian desertonly stretches east f or about 800 miles to the valley of the Tigris andEuphrates rivers. This geography has been a determining factor formillenia in keeping Lebanon turned toward the West.The landscape cannot be described without mentioning the most celebratedtree o f Lebanon, the cedar. Called by the Lebanese 'Cedar of the Lord,'this famed tree retains somewhat of a sacred aura this day. It has becomethe symbol of Lebanon and appears in the center of the flag, on the coins,and often on postage stamps. Since an cient times the cedar constituted avaluable export which provided King Solomon with timber for theconstruction of his Temple, the Phoenicians with wood for their seafaringgalleys , the Egyptians with lumber for their palaces. Unhappily only afew grov es of these stately trees have survived the ax of the builder, theseeker of fuel, or the hunger of goats. Cedars generally grow on thehighest mountain tops so it is not surprising to find an ancient grove of450 trees nestled under the highest peak. Th is grove, the only remaininglarge one, may be seen as small dark specks on the bare face of themountain side from a distance of many miles. A few of the existing treesmay be 1,000 years old, and it is estimated that...

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