A map of Israel The state of Israel was created in 1948. Since then, Israel has rarely been at peace with its Arab neighbours and today its borders have still not been fixed. Israel is part of an area known to Jews, Christians and Muslims as the Holy Land. A fertile strip of green land along the Mediterranean coast is home to most of Israel’s population and its largest city, Tel Aviv. In the north lies Galilee, a temperate, upland region. It is famous for being the home of Jesus Christ for most of his life. To the south of Galilee is the broad, fertile plain known as the Jezreel Valley. Much of southern Israel is made up of the Negev semi-desert, a land of dusty, barren plains and low mountains. This part of Israel borders the Dead Sea, which lies at 416 m (1365 ft) below sea level and is the lowest point on the Earth’s surface. The waters of the Dead Sea are rapidly disappearing, and work is being undertaken to pump water into it from the Red Sea. Northern Israel has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and short, cool winters, while the south is arid, with hot, dry weather all year round.
Jewish people from all over the world have made Israel their home. Before Israel was created in 1948, thousands of Jews moved to the area to escape persecution in Europe and Russia. After the Holocaust during World War II, they were joined by many more. Today, around two-thirds of Israelis were born in Israel. Two main groups of Jews live here: the Ashkenazim, who have a European background, and the Sephardim, whose ancestors came from Spain and Portugal, the Middle East and North Africa. Although it is a Jewish nation, a fifth of Israel’s population is Arab and Muslim. Israel is mostly a wealthy country and most people live a lifestyle similar to those in North America and Western Europe.
Israel is the only country in the world with a majority-Jewish population.
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