Topographic map of the Southern Levant
The Southern Levant lies on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the world region known variously as the Near East, the Middle East or Western or Southwestern Asia. It is bordered to the east, southeast and southwest by the Syrian, Arabian and Sinai deserts, respectively. Some definitions include parts of these deserts in the region. The Litani River is commonly considered the dividing line between the Southern Levant and the Northern Levant (i.e. Syria), or sometimes the Orontes River, also in central Lebanon.
For the most part, the climate of the Southern Levant is arid or semi-arid, however a narrow strip along the coast experiences a temperate, Mediterranean climate due to its proximity to the sea. Average annual rainfall decreases sharply away from the coast, from over 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) per year in Galilee, to 200–400 millimetres (7.9–15.7 inches) in the Rift Valley, and less than 50 millimetres (2.0 inches) in the eastern deserts and the Negev. Across the region, precipitation is both highly seasonal―most rain falls between October and May, and hardly any in the summer—and subject to large, unpredictable interannual variation. Temperature is also highly variable, with cool winters and hot summers.
The Jordan River bisects much of the region into the Cisjordan and Transjordan. The Huleh basin feeds into the upper Jordan, which moves southward through a natural basalt barrier into the Sea of Galilee before dropping several hundred metres as it flows through the Jordan Valley. The Jordan River terminates at the Dead Sea, whose banks, at 400 metres (1,300 feet) below sea level, are the world's lowest point on dry land.