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It is bounded to the north by Lebanonto the northeast by Syriato the east and southeast by Jordanto the southwest by Egyptand to the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem is the seat of government and the proclaimed capital, although the latter status has not received wide international recognition.
Israel is a small country with a relatively diverse topographyconsisting of a lengthy coastal plain, highlands in the north and central regions, and the Negev desert in the south. Running the length of the country from north to south along its eastern border is the northern terminus of the Great Rift Valley.
The State of Israel is the only Jewish nation in the modern period, and the region that now falls within its borders has a lengthy and rich history that dates from prebiblical times. The area was a part of the Roman Empire and, later, the Byzantine Empire before falling under the control of the fledgling Islamic caliphate in the 7th century ce. Although the object of dispute during the Crusadesthe region, then generally known as Palestine, remained under the sway of successive Islamic dynasties until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War Iwhen it was placed under British mandate from the League of Nations.
Even before the mandatethe desire for a Jewish homeland prompted a small of Jews to immigrate to Palestinea migration that grew dramatically during the second quarter of the 20th century with the increased persecution of Jews worldwide and subsequent Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. Israel fought a series of wars against neighbouring Arab states during the next 35 years, which have resulted in ongoing disputes over territory and the status of refugees.
Despite continuing tensions, however, Israel concluded peace treaties with several neighbouring Arab states during the final quarter of the 20th century.
Despite its small size, about miles km north-to-south and 85 miles km east-to-west at its widest point, Israel has four geographic regions—the Mediterranean coastal plain, the hill regions of northern and central Israel, the Great Rift Valley, and the Negev—and a wide range of unique physical features and microclimates. The coastal plain is a narrow strip about miles km long that widens to about 25 miles 40 km in the south.
A sandy shoreline with many beaches borders the Mediterranean coast. Inland to the east, fertile farmland is giving way to growing agricultural settlements and the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa and their suburbs. In the north of the country, the mountains of Galilee constitute the highest part of Israel, reaching an elevation of 3, feet 1, metres at Mount Meron Arabic: Jebel Jarmaq. These mountains terminate to the east in an escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley.
The Mount Carmel range, which culminates in a peak 1, feet metres high, forms a spur reaching northwest from the highlands of the West Bank, cutting almost to the coast of Haifa. The sparsely populated Negev comprises the southern half of Israel. The principal drainage system comprises Lake Tiberias and the Jordan River. The rivers are supplemented by a spring-fed underground water table that is tapped by wells. Israel has a chronic water shortage, and its hydraulic resources are fully utilized: about three-fourths for irrigation and the remainder for industrial and household water use.
The coastal plain is covered mainly by alluvial soils. Parts of the arid northern Negev, where soil development would not be expected, have windblown loess soils because of proximity to the coastal plain. The soils of Galilee change from calcareous rock in the coastal plain, to Cenomanian and Turonian limestone deposited from about 99 to 89 million years ago in Upper Galilee, and to Eocene formations those dating from about 55 to 35 million years ago in the lower part of the region.
Rock salt and gypsum are abundant in the Great Rift Valley.
The southern Negev is mainly sandstone rock with veins of granite. Fast Facts. Videos Images Audio. Additional Info. Table Of Contents. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies.
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