Lebanon has a land area of 10,230 km and is located on the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Dominated by mountains, 67% of the country’s total land is arable and 13% is forest. The country’s population totals 4,223,500 with over 87% living in urban cities. Lebanon is rated as an upper middle-income country with a per capita GDP of US$8,175. The economy is dominated by the service sector, which contributes 45% of the country’s GDP. In recent years, the development of financial markets, mainly in the banking industry, has contributed to the increased GDP. Despite the large part of the country being arable, agriculture contributes only about 6% to GDP. In light of recent rising world food prices and the effects of climate change on agriculture, the country is likely to face serious food shortages in the near future. Water resources are currently favorable, but the country experiences severe, long dry summers, which often cause water shortages, putting a heavy burden on development.
Lebanon is divided into four topographic systems: (1) the flat, narrow coastal strip parallel to the Mediterranean Sea; (2) the Lebanon Mountains; (3) the Bekaa Valley; and (4) the Anti-Lebanon mountainous chain. The country’s soil is mainly Mediterranean, with some parts made up of sandy soils. The land structure consists of high sloping and steep lands, which are prone to water erosion causing loss of top-soil and the capacity to retain water. Degraded sandy soils contribute to dust and sand storms, which are hazardous to humans and livestock. Signs of water shortages are evident due to increased demand from agriculture and industry. The public irrigated water system, which is mainly used for agricultural production, is poorly managed and is rapidly deteriorating due to very old infrastructure. This has encouraged several illegal irrigation systems that are resulting into overexploitation of groundwater. Weak institutional structures, policies and legislations, limited access to new technologies, skills and technical resources are some of the factors that hamper Lebanon’s ability to address the current challenges, especially in relation to water, agriculture, forests and coastal areas. Climate change is likely to make these challenges more acute.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities