Brief Introduction to Israel

Brief Introduction to Israel .....a land flowing with milk and honey ... ארץ זבת חלב ודבש...

 

 "שָׂא נָא עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה מִן הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה שָׁם, צָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וָקֵדְמָה וָיָמָּה. כִּי אֶת כָּל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה רֹאֶה, לְךָ אֶתְּנֶנָּה, וּלְזַרְעֲךָ עַד עוֹלָם

(בראשית י"ג: י"ד-ט"ו) 

  

 “Lift up your eyes and see from the place you are now-northwards, southwards, eastwards, and westwards. For all the land you see I will give to you and to your future generations (forever.” (Bereshit 13:14-15

  

Israel is a small, narrow semi-arid country on the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. It entered history some 35 centuries ago when the Jewish people, settled in the Land and became a nation. Over the years, the Land was known by many names - Eretz Israel (Land of Israel); Zion, originally intended as the place where God’s presence will reside, came to signify both the city of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel as a whole; Palestine, derived from Philistia, and first used by the Romans; the Promised Land; and the Holy Land, to mention but a few. However, to most Israelis today, the country is simply Ha'aretz - the Land.

Long and narrow in shape, the country is about 290 miles (470 km.) in length and 85 miles (135 km.) in width at its widest point. The country is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the southwest and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Mountains and plains, fertile land and desert are often minutes apart. The width of the country, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east, can be crossed by car in about 90 minutes; and the trip from Metulla, in the far north, to Eilat at the country's southern tip takes about six hours. Israel's area within boundaries and ceasefire lines, including the areas under Palestinian self-government, is 10,840 square miles (27,800 sq.km.)..

Length of border with Jordan is approximately 240 miles Length of border with Syria is about 50 miles Length of border with Lebanon is about 63 miles

Some 8.18 million people live in Israel today, an increase of 2% since last year.  Jews make up 75% of the population 6.135 million  and the Arab Israeli population stands at 1.694 million, or 20.7% of the country’s inhabitants. Of the non-Jewish population, about 80% are Muslims, 10% are Christian, and about 10% are Druze. Since 1989, nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived in Israel, making this the largest wave of immigration since independence. In addition, almost 50,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community have immigrated to Israel, 14,000 of them during the dramatic May 1991 Operation Solomon airlift. 36% of Israelis were born outside Israel. A wide spectrum of lifestyles characterize the country, ranging from religious to secular, from modern to traditional, from urban to rural, from communal to individual. The three broad Jewish groupings are the Ashkenazim, or Jews who trace their ancestry to western, central, and eastern Europe; the Sephardim, who trace their origin to Spain, Portugal, southern Europe, and North Africa; and Eastern or Oriental Jews, who descend from ancient communities in Islamic lands.

 Education is compulsory from age 5 to 16 and is free up to age 18.

Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East

Main Cities:

Jerusalem, Israel's capital (population 815,300), has stood at the center of the Jewish people’s national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdom some 3000 years ago. Today it is a flourishing, vibrant metropolis, the seat of the government and Israel’s largest city.

Tel Aviv-Yafo (population 414,000), which was founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in modern times, is today the center of the country’s industrial, commercial, financial and cultural life. The Gush Dan region, from Bat Yam to Netanya is the largest populated area, home to over 3 million people.

Haifa (population 272,000), a known coastal town since ancient times, is a major Mediterranean port and the industrial and commercial center of northern Israel.

Be’er Sheva (population 197,300), named in the Bible as an encampment of the patriarchs, is today the largest urban center in the south. It provides administrative, economic, health, education and cultural services for the entire southern region.

Beit Shemesh (population 89,800) mentioned in the Bible as a city located in the tribal area of Judah, was restablished in 1950 as a "development town primarily for new immigrants. Today Beit Shemesh is a thriving city located only 30 from Jerusalem. 

Over 270,000 Israeli citizens live in communities located in areas acquired by Israel after the 6 Day War, including communities that were established before 1948, destroyed, and reestablished after 1967. Approximately 8,500 Israelis lived in communities in the Gaza Strip until they were evacuated by the government as part of its 2005 disengagement plan.

 


Eyetours - Judy Auerbach Licensed Israeli Tour Guide
http://www.eyetours.net/staticpages/index.php/20090726064227779

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