As you wind down Mount Lebanon towards Chtaura, the Bekaa valley unveils. The heterogeneous pattern of fertile fields and anarchic urbanisation is a reminder that Lebanon inherits its identity as much from millennial traditions as from the development dynamics of past decades.
Very few trees break the monotony of this over exploited land. Many different factors have to be taken into account to explain this bleakness: the 19th century Ottoman Empire’s agricultural policy, the dire need of wood during World War I, the Syrian occupation at the end of the 20th century. But as you continue your way towards Anjar and the Syrian border, a sudden burst of vegetation breaks the cycle of buildings and poor-looking agricultural lands.