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Israel, land of the Bible and the historic homeland of the Jewish people, is situated in Western Asia (the Middle East), along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, and forms part of a land bridge linking three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories (which are claimed by the State of Palestine) comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest

In this land, the Jewish people began to develop its distinctive religion and culture some 4,000 years ago, and here it has preserved an unbroken physical presence, for centuries as a sovereign state, at other times under foreign domination.

It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel’s financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is both its self-designated, though unrecognized by the United Nations, capital, and the most populous individual city under the country’s governmental administration. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.

Israel is a land and a people. The history of the Jewish people, and its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost almost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.

Israel’s climate is characterized by much 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.

The rich variety of Israel’s plant and animal life reflects it geographical location, as well as its varied topography and climate. Over 500 kinds of birds, some 100 mammal and 90n reptile species, and nearly 3,000 plant types (150 of which are endemic to Israel) are found within its border.

Israel has become an internationally known bird- watching center, and a focal point of international research and cooperation.

Over 150 nature reserves and 65 national parks, encompassing nearly 400 square miles have been established throughout the country, with several hundred additional sites in the planning stage.

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