Libanus, Or Jebel Libnan The White Mountain (Lebanon), the western of two mountain chains in Syria which are thrown off from the S. E. continuations of the Taurus range, and extend S. S. W. almost parallel with the coast. The eastern of these ridges is called Anti-Libanus, Anti-Lebanon, or Jebel esh-Shurki. The Lebanon is the higher of the two, its average altitude being estimated at 7,000 ft., while its culminating peak, according to Burton ("Unexplored Syria," 1872), is Jebel Timarun, 10,533 ft. high. On its "W. side the chain sends off several spurs which traverse the narrow strip of coast, which in antiquity was Phoenicia, and terminate at the Mediterranean in bold promontories. On the east lies the valley of Coele-Syria, now called El-Bukaa, which separates this range from Anti-Libanus; it is nearly 100 m. long and from 10 to 20 m. wide. It is not properly a valley, because it undulates between elevations of 2,000 and 3,000 ft, S. of it lies the valley of the Jordan, the most important of the rivers of this mountain system. The next largest are the Aasy (the ancient Orontes), which cuts through the Lebanon at Antakia (Anti-och), about lat. 36° 7', and the Litany (Leontes), which empties a little N. of Sur (Tyre). The general geological formation of the Lebanon is carboniferous and mountain limestone, the whiteness of which is said to have given to the range its name (Heb. laban, white). The rock is very porous, and has been worn by the action of air and water into numerous caves and hollows, which once sheltered the persecuted Jews and Christians. Graywacke, slate, basalt, and other igneous rocks, granite, gneiss, dolomite, iron, and coal are also found.
Mines of the last two minerals are worked to some extent. The scenery of the mountains when viewed from the sea or plains is in the highest degree picturesque; but on a nearer approach little is presented to interest the traveller except rugged ravines and dangerous precipices. The vegetation is scanty, although here and there appear pleasant groves, of which the famous cedars of Lebanon form the most remarkable part (see Cedar), and good pasture grounds to which the Arabs resort in summer. The lower parts of the range, however, are exceptions to these remarks; they are well watered and cultivated, and their valleys contain orchards, vineyards, mulberry plantations, and grain fields. Olives, almonds, oranges, and citrons are also produced, and on the E. side are scrub oaks. The habitable regions of the Lebanon are chiefly in the possession of the Maronites and Druses. (See Anti-Libanus, Druses, Maronites, and Phoenicia.)