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The history of the Jewish people, and its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. Israel is located in the Middle East, along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
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. Although small in size, Israel encompasses the varied terrain features ranging from forested highlands and fertile green valleys to mountainous deserts, and from the coastal plain to the semitropical Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. Approximately half of the country’s land area is semi-arid.
Israel's climate is characterized by sunshine, with a rainy season from November to April. Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters, with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south.
Israel is a country of immigrants. Since its inception in 1948, Israel's population has grown almost ten-fold. Its 7.8 million inhabitants come from varied ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, cultures and traditions. Today Jews comprise some 75.4% of the country’s population, while the country's non-Jewish citizens, mostly Arabs, number about 24.6%.
The State of Israel was established in 1948 and Jewish independence, lost almost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.
Jerusalem, Israel's capital (population 788,100), has stood at the centre 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 was founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in modern times.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive and judicial branches.
Israel's industry concentrates on manufacturing products with a high benefit that are primarily based on technological innovation. These include medical electronics, agro-technology, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, solar energy, food processing and fine chemicals. Trade is conducted with countries on six continents. Some 48% of imports and 32% of exports are with Europe, boosted by Israel's free trade agreement with the EU. A similar agreement was signed with the United States.
Hebrew, the language of the Bible, long restricted to liturgy and literature, was revived a century ago, accompanying the renewal of Jewish life in the Land.
10 most popular study destinations for students in Israel
2. United Kingdom
3. United States