It’s one of the world’s oldest cities, and the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Attracting pilgrims and history buffs alike, Jerusalem calls to those seeking a truly spiritual experience.
Home to some of the most important religious sites in the world, the State of Israel is the ideal destination for those fascinated by history, archaeology and theology. It’s also a stunningly beautiful country, featuring a landscape dotted with unique craters and mountains, as well as some of the most enjoyable hot springs and beaches on the globe. Whether you’re looking to visit the sacred sites of the Abrahamic religions, experience the lively nightlife of Tel-Aviv or bask in world-class hospitality, Israel will lure you in with its history, culture and opportunities for adventure.
Language: Hebrew, Arabic
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
DID YOU KNOW?
- Israel has the most museums per capita of any nation.
- Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, is not recognized by most foreign states as they feel it should be considered an “international city” due to its high importance in the Abrahamic religions. Because of this, many foreign embassies are located in Israel’s second largest city, Tel-Aviv.
- The USB flash drive was invented by an Israeli company called M-Systems in 1999.
- The State of Israel is one of the most educated countries in the world, with 135 per 10,000 citizens holding university degrees.
- Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, with a per capita income of US$17,500 (which is also higher than the United Kingdom’s).
Israel’s climate features two distinct seasons, winter and summer. The summer lasts from May through late October and is mostly dry with the occasional heat wave. The winter runs from November to early May and is considered Israel’s rainy season. Snow is scarce—except in the mountainous regions—although Jerusalem typically gets one day of snowfall per year.
A long disputed area, the nation we now call Israel was officially formed on May 14, 1948, when the Jewish Agency (a foundation dedicated to connecting Jews with their heritage) declared the establishment of a Jewish state. This declaration occurred a day before Britain’s decades-long occupation of what was then called Palestine had ended. The next day, the Arab countries of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon attacked Israel, sparking a conflict that would last an entire year. At the end of the Arab-Israeli War, temporary borders were drawn, yet despite this temporary agreement, Israel has yet to find true peace with its neighbours, and conflicts have occurred sporadically throughout history. Despite its conflicts, Israel has made a name for itself in the economic and scientific communities of the globe; it currently has the most companies on the Nasdaq stock exchange, after the United States and Canada. Israel is currently enjoying a ceasefire with its neighbours, and there is hope that permanent peace may not be that far away.
THE ISRAEL MUSEUM
Considered one of the world’s leading archaeology and art museums, the Israel Museum contains an extensive array of artifacts and works dating from pre-history to the present. Home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the museum offers a look at some of the most talked about and studied religious texts of all time.
THE DEAD SEA
Believed to be one of the most naturally healing places on earth, the Dead Sea lures visitors who want to restore their bodies and minds in its relaxing waters, 400 metres below sea level. The Dead Sea gets its name from the high level of sea salt in the water, which makes it impossible for animals and aquatic plants to survive in it. However, this same high level of salinity is also known to heal and soothe those who bathe in it.
DOME OF THE ROCK
Considered the third most holy site in the Islam faith, the Dome of the Rock is a magnificent structure protecting the place where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. It is also believed to be the location of the Temple of Solomon, and draws thousands of visitors a year to gaze upon it.
THE WESTERN WALL
The most sacred location to the Jewish faith, the Western Wall is the last standing structure of the temple that once stood in Jerusalem. The wall was one of four built to protect the first temple of Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians half a millennium before the birth of Christ. It is commonly referred to as the “Wailing Wall” because for centuries Jews have gathered along it to mourn the loss of the temple. Many people from around the world gather at the Western Wall, which has become known as a place for both prayer and celebration.
THE GOSPEL TRAIL
For those wanting to literally walk in the footsteps of Christ, Israel offers the Gospel Trail hike. This organized and free hike takes visitors from Nazareth to Capernaum in a route believed to have been walked by Jesus Christ. Maps are available and locations along the route are marked to let travellers know where to go next.
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