Lebanon is a country located in the western region of the Middle East, where it covers a total area of 4,036 square miles. This country is narrow in shape, with a 140-mile long coastline running against the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Because of its global position, it has often been considered the trade link between eastern Asia and Mediterranean countries. Lebanon has a population size of over 6 million individuals, approximately one-third of whom live in and around the national capital Beirut. Two of the major geographic features of this country are the Biqa Valley and the Lebanon Mountains.
Lebanon shares international borders with Syria and Israel. This article takes a closer look at these borders and the relationship between these countries.
The border shared between Lebanon and Syria stretches for a total of 233 miles, making it the longest international border in Lebanon. This boundary lies all across the northern and eastern regions of Lebanon, beginning along the Mediterranean Sea in the most northwestern point of this country. From here, the border run inland in an eastern direction and then turns south, before reaching the Qattinah Lake in Syria. The border continues in a southwestern direction, passing through Mount Hermon before reaching the tripoint boundary between Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. This tripoint border is disputed, however, do to the Israeli occupation in Golan Heights.
A large portion of the northern section of the border between these two countries runs along the Kebir River, which is also known as the Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi. Where the border turns south, it primarily follows the Anti-Lebanon Mountain range, running right through the highest points in this range. This mountain range has a length of around 93 miles. Directly to the west of these mountains lies the previously mentioned Biqa Valley in Lebanon.
The Mandate for Syria and Lebanon first officially defined the border line between Lebanon and Syria after the end of World War I (WWI), when the Ottoman Empire was dissolved. France controlled this general area until 1943, when Lebanon and Syria declared their independence. Later, in 1976, Syria began a military occupation of Lebanon when Lebanon experienced political turmoil due to its civil war. This occupation continued until 2005, although the border was not officially defined at that time. In fact, some territories between these two countries remain under dispute today. One example of this dispute is the town of Deir El Aachayer. Although largely accepted as territory of Lebanon, the Syrian government continues to lay claim to this area.
In 2017, the border crossing between the Baalbek-Hermel governorate in Lebanon and the city of Homs in Syria was reopened. When this crossing was reopened, the border line between these two countries was moved by a few miles. This move worked to place a community of Syrian refugees within the territory of Lebanon. Government officials reported that the opening of this border crossing was an effort to manage the movement of refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
The border between Lebanon and Israel runs for a total length of 49.1 miles and is situated at the southern end of Lebanon. It begins at the Mediterranean coastline and moves eastward until just before the town of Malkiya, where the border line takes a northern direction. It then continues toward the north and passes north and east of the town of Kfarkela in Lebanon. After this location, the border between these two countries dips to the south until reaching the Golan Heights region, which is largely considered territory of Syria. Israel, however, claims this region and claims that its border with Lebanon ends at Mount Hermon. This 49.1-mile measurement does not consider the Golan Heights region, which is occupied by Israeli forces, to be part of the territory of Israel. For those countries that recognize this occupation as legitimate, the border between Israel and Lebanon is considered slightly longer. The Golan Heights region, however, is under dispute between Israel and Syria and has been in this state since the late 1960’s.
The majority of the border between Lebanon and Israel was defined in 1949 as part of the Armistice Border agreement at the end of the Arab-Israeli War. This border is referred to as the Green Line. The border location between these two countries largely remained the same until the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took control of the Golan Heights region from Syria. In 1978, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in response to attacks the country sustained at the hands of the Palestine Liberation Organization. During this invasion, Israel occupied a large part of the southern territory of Lebanon. The government of Lebanon requested assistance from the UN and this invasion was then mediated by this international organization, which called for Israel to remove its troops. Some years later, the UN created a boundary between these two countries known as the Blue Line. This Blue Line was utilized to determine if Israel had followed orders to withdraw its troops. Full withdrawal of Israeli troops did not occur until May of 2000. The Green Line and the Blue Line are nearly identical, although neither was intended to serve as the formal or official border between these two countries.
Violence along the border between Lebanon and Israel has not ended, however. Several lives have been lost along this boundary as a result of fighting between Lebanese and Israeli forces. In some instances, this violence has involved only armed troops. In other cases however, civilians have been involved in these attacks. During one such attack in August of 2010, the government of Lebanon recognized that its forces had attacked Israeli forces that were located on the Israeli side of the Blue Line. At that time, however, the Lebanese government claimed that some Lebanese territory had been lost to Israel during the creation of this demarcation. The attacks on Israeli forces occurred, according to the government of Lebanon, on land that should belong to Lebanon. This event, as well as several others, indicate that the dispute over the border location between these two countries is ongoing.