Israel has existed as a state in various forms since biblical times and as such is considered the homeland of the Jewish people. It is situated in the Middle East, on the extreme eastern flank of the Mediterranean Sea, and forms part of a land bridge that links Asia, Africa and Europe. Israel is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east and Egypt to the southwest. The country is long and narrow in shape and is 470 km long and 135 km wide at its broadest, that is between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean coast. Its population is 6.3 million inhabitants.
Despite its small size Israel has a varied terrain with forested highlands and fertile valleys in the region of Galilee, and sand dunes and farmland along the sea coast. A mountainous desert region extends south to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Eilat, while the Jordan Valley is semi-tropical. The Dead Sea, the salty remains of a prehistoric sea, is the lowest place on earth. Israel’s weather is typically warm and sunny, with a rainy season running from November to April. The climate varies greatly from one region to another: the hilly regions may even see some light snow in the winter time, summers are hot and dry and winters pleasant in the Jordan Valley, while in the southern region conditions are dry and hot during the daytime all year round, cooling off at night time.
As might well be imagined there is a shortage of arable land in Israel and water is in short supply; a network of giant pipes, aqueducts, canals, reservoirs, tunnels, dams and pumping stations has been built to distribute water across the territory. Recycling of sewage water and the desalination of seawater are two of the main ongoing water recuperation initiatives. Israel boasts numerous nature reserves, over 500 kinds of birds, some 100 mammal and 90 reptile species, and nearly 3,000 plant types (150 of which are indigenous to Israel). Israel’s primary natural resources are timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, various kinds of clay and sand.
The city of Tel Aviv is on the coast and has a population of 1.2 million, 99% of which is Jewish. The Tel Aviv district includes the city of Tel Aviv itself, and a number of neighbouring cities, which are collectively named Gush Dan.
Tel Aviv's domestic airport is Sde Dov in the north-western part of the city. Sde Dov is located on prime coastal real estate near the upscale Ramat Aviv neighbourhood and so in the near future all services will be transferred to Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel's main international airport, close to the city of Lod and 15 kilometres southeast of Tel Aviv.
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