Page:A short guide to Syria (1943).djvu/16

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The tribesmen admire courage and resourcefulness. Let them see that you have these qualities. They will be grateful of any generosity you can show them, such as a lift along the road. Whenever possible, give the men and children empty tins or other items you can part with. A discarded gasoline can, for example, is considered a proud possession.

"Rain is a
Mercy from God"

Arab proverb


THE climate of the coastal portion of Syria is a good deal like that of Southern California. The winters are cool, but not cold, with some rain, while the summers are warm and sunny. Orange and olive groves abound. Back of the coastal plains stand the forested Lebanon Mountains (remember the cedars of Lebanon in the Bible?) which are covered with snow in the winter. Skiing is a new and popular sport here.

In the valley or "central depression" between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon mountains, the climate is somewhat drier than the coast, and irrigation is often necessary. The winters are colder and the summers warmer. This valley, however, is fertile and well cultivated. Wheat and other cereals are its principal crops.

Unlike the forested Lebanons, the Anti-Lebanon range is bleak and barren, without much rainfall. It is a fitting approach to the desert, which stretches eastward from its foothills. Though this desert occupies by far the greater portion of Syria, it is only sparsely inhabited in comparison with the rest of the country, because of its unfriendly and unfertile character. Yet the Syrian desert is not like the great Sahara desert in Africa, all sand and wasteland, but more like the deserts of the southwestern United