The early history of Israel is taken from the Bible, with the beginning of the nation's history starting with the Biblical Abraham of Ur, Mesopotamia, who lived in the region around 1900BC. Abraham had a son named Jacob, who had 12 sons, which is said to have governed the 12 tribes of Israel.
In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Israel, followed by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 583 BC, who conquered the Babylonian Kingdom, which included the region of Israel.
The Roman Empire arrived and invaded Israel in 63 BC, forcing the Jews to leave the region between 132 to 135 AD, when it was named as Palestine.
The Arabs came in 635 AD, conquering and ruling Israel for over a thousand years.
In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered the region and remained as rulers until the First World War, when the British took over. The 1900's began the intense conflicts between the Arabs and the Jews, which led to the United Nations' 1947division of the region into the Arab and the Jewish state.
On May 14, 1948, the "State of Israel" was founded. The next decades after Israel's independence has been filled with conflict between them and Palestine, as well as their Arab neighbors. Conflict over ownership of the land considered holy by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, have resulted to ongoing regional wars in the region.
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Israel is located in Western Asia, south-east of the Mediterranean Sea. Its borders are Lebanon to the north, Jordan to the east, Syria to the northeast, the Palestine territories of Gaza Strip and West Bank to the southwest and east, and Egypt and the Aqaba Gulf to the south.
The Israeli Coastal Plain, which is found on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, is home to 57% of the population. The entire region is characterized by a variety of geographical features. Fertile land is found in the Jezreel Valley, while mountain ranges are found in Galilee, and the south covered in desert, where the Negev desert is found.
The State of Israel is a representative democratic country. It has a parliament system, with the Prime Minister as Head of Government and Head of Cabinet. A 120-member parliament called Knesset is the country's legislative body.
The President of Israel acts as Head of State but duties are very limited and largely ceremonial.
Tourism is 1 of Israel's major sources of national income. Over 3.5 million people from all across the world visited Israel in 2013.
The country is popular for its historic and religious sites first and foremost, with beach resorts and archaeological sites coming in 2nd.
Among the most visited sites in Israel is Jerusalem's Western Wall or Wailing Wall. Located in the Jerusalem Old City area, at the foot of the western part of the Temple Mount, the wall is a famous site of pilgrimage and prayer for the Jews. Considered sacred and holy, it is common practice for people to place prayer notes in between the cracks of the wall.
The Masada is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 2nd most visited site in Israel next to Jerusalem. It used to be a fortress and a palace, which was built by Herod the Great. Perched on top of an isolated rock plateau on the Judaean Desert, the ruins are a popular attraction for many foreign tourists.
Tel Aviv is the country's 2nd largest city, with its collection of Bauhaus architecture protected by the UNESCO. It has a thriving nightlife scene, and is a cosmopolitan, cultural, and financial global city.
Jerusalem is the most visited city in the country. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is known for its historical, archaeological, and religious sites.
Israel's literacy rate is at 97.1% of the population. Israel ranks as number 3 in the globe in terms of the number of university degrees per capita - which is 20% of the population.
Israel's State Education Law was established in 1953, establishing 5 types of schools: state religious, tate secular, ultra orthodox, Arab schools, and communal settlement schools. The largest group is the state secular, attended by majority of Israel's student population.
The top institutions in the country are Tel Aviv University &The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- They have the highest standard of living in the Middle East.
- They have the highest life expectancy in the world - which is 82 years old.
- Israel banknotes have braille markings so the blind can identify the bills.
- The cellphone was developed in Motorola's largest location, which was in Israel.
Source Code: IW20141107
Last Updated : April 04, 2015
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