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Situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon has an area of 4,015 square miles (10,400 square kilometers), about three-fourths the size of the state of Connecticut. East of the Lebanon Mountains is the Bekaa Valley, an extremely fertile flatland.At the eastern flank of the Bekaa stands Mount Hermon, straddling the border with Syria.Less than 30% of Lebanon's total area can support crop production.Expansion of cultivated areas is limited by the arid and rugged nature of the land.The national dish, kibbeh (or kibbe ), consists of a ground lamb and cracked wheat paste, similar to paté.

Lebanon has an extraordinarily varied climate: within a 45-minutes drive in winter, spring, and fall, both skiing and swimming are possible.

The Lebanese themselves have also helped to bring foods of other cultures into their diet.

Ancient tribes journeyed throughout the Middle East, carrying with them food that would not spoil easily, such as rice and dates.

Those who were unfamiliar with this practice often found it quite unpleasant, including the English food writer George Lassalle, who described it as "frightening." Some rural villages continue to prepare it this way.

Mezze , a variety of flavorful hot and cold dishes, is another important part of the Lebanese diet.

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