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May 2011

Israel, 1967

Israel, 1967

Israel, 2001

Israel, 2001

Israel (about the size of New Jersey) encompasses an area of 20,330 sq. km. (7,850 sq. mi.), lies between Egypt and Lebanon on the Mediterranean Sea. The highest point in Israel is Mount Meron at 1,208 m. The lowest point is the surface of the Dead Sea, which is 403 m. below sea level and which is also the lowest point on land in the world. On May 14, 1948, the creation of the State of Israel was proclaimed and was immediately invaded by armies from neighboring Arab states, which rejected the UN partition plan. This conflict, Israel's War of Independence, was concluded by armistice agreements between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria in 1949 and resulted in a 50% increase in Israeli territory.

The climate is temperate, hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas. Israel's terrain consists of the Negev desert in the south; a low coast plain; mountains in the central region; and the Jordan Rift Valley. Israel is plagued by a shortage of water and several desalination plants operate in the country. Israel uses more than 90% of its available water supply. Over 60% of the water is consumed by agriculture. Israel has two main aquifers—the coastal aquifer which is shallow and therefore becomes polluted; and the mountain aquifer (between the West Bank and the coastal plain), which is deep and clean. The most important river in Israel is the Jordan. Other smaller rivers are the Yarkon, the Kishon, and the Yarmuk, a tributary of the Jordan. Other bodies of water include the Sea of Galilee, the main water reservoir for Israel’s national water carrier system, and the Dead Sea (part of which belongs to neighboring Jordan). Owing to interior drainage and an elevation below sea level, the waters of the Dead Sea have about eight times as much salt as the ocean. As the result of an intensive reforestation program, well over 100 million trees (20% of the entire cultivated area) have been planted since 1948, the year the state of Israel was established. The natural resources of Israel include: timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, and clays. Natural hazards facing Israel include: sandstorms may occur during spring and summer, droughts, and periodic earthquakes.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 5/2011; 12/2010

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