Moving to Israel
A tiny spot on the map marks Israel. It lies on the Mediterranean coast of southwest Asia, surrounded by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, the Gaza Strip and West Bank. … a land flowing with milk and honey… (Exodus 3:8), This is Israel. It has been known as The Promised Land, The Holy Land, Palestine and Zion.
At midnight, on the 14th May, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired, the Jewish homeland, the modern State of Israel was born. Less than 24 hours later, it was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and the War of Independence was fought. Since this time, peace with all Israel's Arab neighbors remains an everlasting desire, and has been partially accomplished with treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan. However the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is ongoing, spawning uprisings and terror attacks against Israeli targets and retaliation attacks by the Israel Defense Force, leading to hardship and sorrow on both sides of the border. "Hatikva" – "Hope" is the name of Israel's national anthem and it believes that one day quiet will reign. It is in such a spirit that Israel forces ahead and builds a modern, democratic state, never forgetting its history and looking hopefully to the future.
Geography and Climate
Israel is small and narrow and covers only 20,770 sq km. The geographical borders are the Mediterranean to the West, the Jordan Vally Rift to the East, the Lebanon mountains to the North and Eilat Bay at the country's southern tip. There are three main geographical regions - the coastal plain, the mountain region and the Jordan Vally Rift. There are two lakes along the Jordan River - the fresh water 'Sea of Galilee' ('Kineret') which provides Israel's water and the salt water Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Israel predominantly has two seasons – a very hot summer throughout with high humidity levels along the coast, and a semi-wet winter with very cold temperatures in the higher areas; even occasional snow. Mt. Hermon is Israel's highest peak, and in winter a thick layer of snow, provides winter sport delights for visitors. Despite its' small size, Israel boasts fauna and flora and wildlife species that rival many larger countries on account of its varied habitats ranging from fertile plains to deserts.
People and Culture
Israel is inhabited by some 7 million people, with a Jewish population of about five million, and the rest mainly Arab. Since the establishment of the State, the population of Israel has increased almost tenfold. The two official languages are Hebrew and Arabic, both of which are read and written from right to left; English is widely spoken, as are numerous other languages. Israel is a multi-religious, multi-culture melting pot of diversities with Jews from 70 Diasporas in Eastern and Western Europe, North Africa, Asia, Anglo Saxon countries, North and South America; There are Moslems and Christians, Druze and Bedouins and many others. These people have set down roots all over the country, in the Negev desert, along the coastline, in bubbly and industrial city centers and in agricultural communities. The versatile lifestyles expose an array of cuisines and customs.
In light of the fact that Israel has very limited natural resources, it has built a sophisticated market economy which relies heavily on successful high-technology projects. The industrial section is also successful in the manufacture of wood and paper, high standard potash and phosphate and food products. The agricultural sector is well known for citrus, flowers, vegetables and to a lesser extent cotton and beef. Israel exports machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products and chemicals.
Israel has a small population and it turns to cheap foreign labor from Eastern Europe and Asia. Low-skilled workers from these areas migrate voluntarily to work in the construction, agriculture and health care industries.
Motor cars and buses are the main form of transportation in Israel. Road networks are constantly being expanded to provide answers to the ever-growing traffic and for easier access to remote areas. An 86 km toll road takes the motorist from the north to the south of the country.
Israel's communication services are highly developed with underwater fiber-optic lines and satellite link-ups. It is connected to world's major financial and business networks. Internet and cell phone users per capita rank high in the world.
Rail transportation is on a development rise, with bus line hook-ups coordinating with incoming trains and serving as a boost to the railways' improvement plan.
The three modern deep water harbors which are located in Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat are ports for international shipping. To meet international standards and due to elevation in passenger numbers, Ben-Gurion International Airport has been upgraded and expanded.
Famous People and Places
The Dead Sea is high among endless and fascinating "must see" places in Israel. It is the lowest point on the Earth and well known around the world for its' salty waters and natural health benefits. It attracts people from all over the world to experience its' beneficial mineral-rich waters. An array of skin care and other health products are made from the rare qualities of the Dead Sea.
Massada is a fortress built by King Herod in 30 BCE. It is located on the flat surface of a very steep mountain overlooking the Dead Sea. The heroic history of Massada tells of courage and martyrdom, and within the walls of this architectural treasure a well-preserved story remains of this outstanding history. One can see King Herod's western palace; watchtowers; decorated pottery; mosaics; Jewish synagogue; the water system designed by Herod and much more. In 2001, UNESCO declared this magnificent site as a World Heritage Site.
There have been numerous famous and important figures in the short history of Israel, but none is more charismatic than the legendry Yitzhak Rabin, born in Jerusalem in 1922 and taking part in all the events that shaped the destiny of this country. After a distinguished military career, he stepped into the realm of politics with many years of devoted service to Israel, as an active member of the Labor Party, Member of Knesset and also as Prime Minister. His endless quest for an understanding with his Arab neighbours earned him the prestigious Nobel Peace Price and he never desisted from the goal of making peace with Israel's enemies and creating a peaceful Middle East. At the very height of his powers, in 1995, he was assassinated by one of his own, an Israeli citizen, and this tragic event cast a long shadow on future events.
The ancient city of Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and is sacred to the world's three major monotheistic religions. As such, it is a city draped in political and religious controversy. The Old City in the eastern part of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian. Within the walls are bustling colorful markets selling oriental knic-knacs and foods in an atmosphere of aromas and chanting vendors.
The New City has greatly developed since the 19th century. Construction regulations require buildings to be low and built with traditional "Jerusalem stone". The Israeli parliament ('Knesset'), educational establishments, museums and other cultural and religious centers are located in this section of Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv is the financial capital where everything and anything goes. It is a buzzing metropolis, and rightly referred to as 'the city that never sleeps', with 24-hour restaurants and bars, and colorful nightlife. Tel-Aviv has a wonderful beachfront stretching along the Mediterranean and ideal for relaxation during the hot and humid summers. You will also enjoy the bustling city center with its' lively atmosphere along the hip Shenkin Street or the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall. So if it's the fast life you're after, Tel-Aviv is a great choice.
Haifa is Israel's third largest city and has the country's largest port, attracting commercial traders and tourists. It provides an outstanding example of co-existence between its' residents of many faiths. It is home to the Bahai Faith World Center, where you can stroll through the magnificent Bahai gardens and pay a visit to the striking German Colony at the foot of the gardens, founded by German Templars in the 19th century. The Ahmadi Muslim community (an Indian sect of Islam which preaches peace among nations) is based in Haifa's Kababir neighborhood while the Christian presence in the city is represented by many churches and the Baroque-style Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery.
The Wildlife Preserve 'Khai-Bar' was established to reintroduce nearly extinct animals back into nature. Numerous paths suited for auto, bicycle or walking excursions are scattered throughout the Carmel area.
Eilat is the leisure resort town at the southernmost tip of Israel, only an hour by air from Tel-Aviv. With a stunning backdrop scenery of the Red Sea and Edom Mountains across wonderful beaches and offering numerous water sports to experience, luxurious hotels and a bustling port.
Israel is such a small country that in a few hours one can drive from the mountains in the north to the deserts of the south.
The city of Haifa has the only underground subway ('Carmelit') in Israel.
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Moving to Israel