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Monday 23rd October
Israel Information - Page 1
Geography
The State of Israel is in the Middle East. It is bordered by Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Jordan. Its coastal border is with the Mediterranean Sea.

Jerusalem is Israel's most important city although most countries have embassies in Tel Aviv-Yafo. Other cities include Haifa and Beer-Sheva. Haifa is Israel's main port. Other ports are Ashdod, Ashkelon and Eilat.

Much of the south of Israel is desert. There is a fertile plain along the country's Mediterranean coastline. Geographical features are the central mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley. The River Jordan is Israel's main river.

The weather is hot and dry in summer and wet in winter.

Environment
Israel's terrain consists of hills, mountains, valleys, desert and beaches; six percent of the country is covered with forests and woodlands. Rivers include the Jordan and Nahal Keziv. Lakes are the Dead Sea (salt water) and Lake Kinneret (freshwater).

Since the foundation of the State (1948) the growth of cities and industrialization has taken its toll on the environment. Today, Israel has a number of Nature Reserves and National Parks, overseen by the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority.

Architecture
The Old City of Jerusalem was nominated for World Heritage Sites in Danger in 1982. Jersusalem is the site of important religious monuments for the three religions of Judaism (the Western Wall), Christianity (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and Islam (the Dome of the Rock).

Israeli sites on the World Heritage List include Masada (the site of the palace of King Herod the Great), the Old City of Acre and the White City of Tel-Aviv (the Modern Movement).

The Biblical Tels (Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba) and the Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev were added to the World Heritage List in 2005.

Population
Israel's population was estimated at 7,473,052 in 2010.

Jewish citizens originate from all over the world including Europe, former USSR, Ethiopia, Morocco and Iraq.

Languages
Hebrew is the official language. Arabic is the official language for the Arab population. English is taught in schools.

Religion
Over seventy-five percent of the people are Jewish and sixteen percent are Muslim. There is a Christian minority.

Food
Since the foundation of the State of Israel (1948) Jews have arrived from many countries bringing cuisines from all over the world. These cuisines, together with the traditional food of the Arab population, give Israeli food a truly international flavour.

Both the Jewish religion and the Islamic religion forbid the consumption of pork. Both religions have holy days that restrict the times food can be eaten and what may be eaten. For example, Jews are not allowed to cook on the Sabbath and Muslims fast for thirty days during Ramadan eating special food at the end of the day.

As well as a diverse array of main meals, numerous desserts and cakes are available. Apple cake, chocolate cake, honey cake and baklava are just a few of the delicious varieties of cake from the Israeli kitchen.

Mint tea is a traditional Middle Eastern drink and Turkish coffee is popular. Citrus fruits are grown in Israel so fresh juice is readily available. Kosher wine is produced for the Jewish population by the Israeli vineyards. Muslims do not drink alcohol.

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