The small (densely populated) State of Israel occupies about 75% of an area long known as Canaan. This historic, volatile spot is significant for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike, as Jerusalem is recognized as a holy city by all three religious faiths. Additional Canaan/Palestine/Israel history here.
The Old Testament of the Bible (the Jewish Torah), describes how, after being led out of Egypt by Moses into this land of Canaan, Hebrew tribes, descendants of the 12 sons of Jacob, settled, and later formed the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Centuries passed, and then (by decree) on May 14, 1948, (an agreed to partition of Palestine) between the Jews and Arabs, and one later recommended by a special committee of the United Nations in 1947, was the force that formed the official State of Israel.
A map of that suggested land division is here. That agreement was later summarily rejected by the Arabs, as it conflicted with their long-held historical ties to Palestine.
Today the West Bank (shown on the map above) is partially Israeli occupied, but Israel, in September, 2005, withdrew all Israeli settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip.
Facts and Figures
(long form) State of Israel
Capital City Jerusalem (712,000)
Currency New Israeli Shekel (ILS)
Languages Hebrew (official) Arabic and English (widely spoken)
National Day May 12
Religions Jewish (75%), Muslim (15%), others
Latitude/Longitude (Capital City)
31º 46' N, 35º 14' E
Relative Location Israel is in both the northern and eastern hemispheres. It's positioned in the Middle East, a recognized geographical region of western Asia. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aqaba, Dead Sea, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, and by the countries of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.
Coastline 170 miles (273 km)
(land) 7,849 sq miles (20,330 sq km)
(water) 170 sq miles (440 sq km)
(TOTAL) 8,019 sq miles (20,770 sq km)
Landforms The country of Israel has four distinct geographical areas:
A fertile (and mostly flat) coastal plain fronts the Mediterranean Sea coastline; rolling hills dissect the country, including the central Samarian hills and the mountains and hills of Galilee in the north; the Great Rift Valley runs south to the Gulf of Aqaba along its southern border with Jordan, and the Negev Desert (part of the Sinai Desert) dominates the southern landscape.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point (below sea level) on the planet. The River Jordon is the most significant river, and it forms the natural border between Israel and Jordan.
Highest Point Mt. Meron - 3,963 ft. (1,208m)
Lowest Point Dead Sea - (-1,349 ft.) (- 411 m) below sea level
Land Divisions 6 districts, including: Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern and Tel Aviv.
Attractions Israel is a remarkable, fascinating and controversial country, all in one, and for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, the capital city of Jerusalem is one of the most revered cities on earth.
Major attractions within the country include tours of, or to, the Dome of the Rock, Mount Zion, the Wailing Wall, the Tomb of David and the Israel Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Tel Aviv, Israel's business center, with it nightlife, shopping and sandy beaches; Galilee and its biblical history and spa resorts; the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea; the "City of Palm Trees", Jericho, one of the planet's most continuously inhabited sites and the oldest fortified city in the world, and of course Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ.
The U. S. Department of State and other world governments urge their citizens to carefully weigh the necessity of their travel to Israel due to unsafe conditions. The U.S. Department of State also urges American citizens to defer unnecessary travel to the West Bank and avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip. Militants have abducted Western citizens and held them for short periods, and terrorist organizations have threatened attacks against U.S. interests.
Country Dialing Code 972
Electricity Israel uses 230 volts AC (50 Hz)
Electrical adapters, products and tips here