STS078-742-074 The Biqa Valley, Lebanon June 1996
The upland Biqa Valley and the highest part of the Great Rift Valley, that covers an area from Syria southward to near Mozambique in southern Africa, can be seen in this near-nadir view. The Biqa Valley, which stretches north into Syria, is 75 miles (121 km) long and 5 to 9 miles (8 to 15 km) wide, and is located between the Lebanon Mountains to the west (left on the image), and the anti-Lebanon Mountains to the east (right on the image). The valley is Lebanon's chief agricultural area, as can be seen on the upper center of the image. The high and rugged Lebanon Mountains parallel the Mediterranean Coast. The mountains rise steeply from the coast and are over 100 miles (160 km) long. The Lebanon Mountains were famous in ancient times for their large, old cedar trees that extended in a narrow strip along the upper western slope of the range. Over 90 percent of these trees have been depleted, used for building materials and fuel. Only isolated groves remain. The anti-Lebanon Mountains extend north to south marking the border between Lebanon and Syria. Once known for their forests of oak, pine, cypress, and juniper, the range is mostly void of trees and is now largely stony and barren. The only permanent lake in Lebanon, Buhayrat (lake) Al Qirawn, is visible near the center of the image.

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