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Jerusalem, Israel. Author Herman Frantzen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Jerusalem, Israel. Author Herman Frantzen

Israel: the Holy Land

Israel (Medinat Yisra’el) is a parliamentary republic in the Middle East, which is bordered to the north by Lebanon, to the north-east with Syria, in the east with Jordan, and to the south-west by Egypt, to the west is washed from the Mediterranean Sea and to the south by the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba), the capital of the country is Jerusalem (but the United Nations recognizes Tel Aviv).

East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights are under Israeli administration from 1967. The Israeli territory presents at the north the mountains of Galilee, where is Mount Meron (1,208 metres), the highest peak in the country.

To the south of the mountains of the Galilee lies the Esdraelon (Jezreel) plain, one of the most densely populated and cultivated areas in the country, to the west rises Mount Carmel (525 metres) south of this goes over the flat 200 km coastline that is home to most of the major cities of the country. Along the border with Jordan are the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea depression (salt lake with high salinity), the maximum depression of the planet, which is 420 meters below sea level, is in Israeli territory only the south-west side of the Dead Sea.

Israel Map

Israel Map

The most important river in the country is Jordan, which only the higher water-course flows in Israeli territory, while belongs largely to Israel the Sea of Galilee (166 sq km), a fresh water lake, also known as the Lake Kinneret. In the south of the country extends the Negev desert, which constitutes more than half of Israeli territory, it’s a steppic and desert region with mountainous tabular structures that rise over 1,000 metres (Har Ramon, 1,035 meters, Har Saggi, 1,006 meters).

The Israeli economy is one of the most developed in the Middle East, agriculture, thanks to important works of irrigation, is one of the basis of the economy, are grown citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, olives, cereals (wheat, barley, sorghum), tobacco and cotton, important is breeding (cattle, sheep, goats and poultry) and fisheries. A certain importance is covered by the mineral resources, especially oil, natural gas, phosphates, copper, manganese, granite, potash, bromine, magnesium, marble and mica. Developed is industry particularly linked to the processing of agricultural products, and textile sectors, metallurgy, electronics, chemical and petrochemical. Because of the continuing state of tension with the Palestinians, the tourism sector, one of the main items of trade balance of the country, has undergone a remarkable decline.

  • Area: 20,770 sqkm. (Arable 21%, Pastures 7%, Forests and Woodlands 6%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 66%)
  • Population: 7,184,000 (2007 data) (Hebrew 76%, Arab 20%)
  • State Capital: Jerusalem.
  • Languages: The official languages are Hebrew and Arabic.
  • Religion: Jewish 76%, Muslim 16%, Christian 2%, Druse 1,7%.
  • Currency: New Israeli Shekel (ILS)
  • Time: UTC +2 hours (Summer UTC +3 hours)

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