Nation of Israel
Background: History and general facts about Israel
Along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, at the junction of three continents, lies a much disputed piece of land, now known as the country of Israel. Although this land is now controlled by its original inhabitants, the Jewish people have only had political power for the past half-century. After the Jewish people lost authority, the control of this piece of land changed hands numerous times. This land has been plagued for centuries by disputes between its neighboring countries and peoples over its rule.
Located in the Middle East, Israel's neighboring countries include Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The majority of its western side and the Gaza Strip are along the Mediterranean Sea. The highly disputed West Bank is between Israel's eastern border and Jordan's western border. The total area of this small country is 20,770 km, making its size comparable to that of the state of New Jersey. The official languages of the country are Hebrew and Arabic, yet due to ethnic diversity, many other languages are also spoken. Jerusalem is the capital and the largest city in Israel. This is the metropolitan location of the Israeli government. The next largest city is Tel Aviv with about half the population of Jerusalem. The industrial, commercial, financial and cultural life of Israel is based in Tel Aviv.
Considering how small the area is that composes Israel, there is a wide range of environmental attributes found within its borders. There is the semitropical Jordan Rift Valley that has hot, dry summers and pleasant winters. In the south the semi-arid Negev desert is found, where there are hot days and cool nights. The forested highlands have dry, warm summers and winters with rain and occasional snow. Finally, the hot, humid summers and the mild wet winters are found in the coastal plain. The vast climactic differences are reflected in the rich variety of flora and fauna. Despite the wide environmental range, fresh water scarcity has been a lasting problem. The National Water Carrier aids in bringing water from the north to the south, and additional methods of using other sources are underway. Desertification and pollution are two other environmental issues that Israel faces. Sandstorms are a natural hazard, which most often occur in the spring and the summer. The natural resources are copper, phosphates, sulfur, manganese, bromide, asphalt, potash, clay, and sand. The highest point in Israel is 1,208m at Har Meron, and the lowest point in Israel is the lowest point on earth -- 408m below sea level in the Dead Sea.
Israel's current population nears six million, as compared to its population of fewer than one million at the time of its inception. The vast majority, 90%, of the population resides in urban centers, and most of the remainder of the population inhabits rural cooperative settlements named the moshav and the kibbutz. The age...