The State of Israel, an independent nation in southwest Asia, is located between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the head of the Gulf of AQABA, an arm of the Red Sea. Israel was established on May 14, 1948, as a Jewish state. Israel is considered the Holy Land for Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
The official language of Israel is Hebrew. English is widely used as a second language, and recently Russian has become commonplace.
Freedom of religion and the inviolability of the holy places and centers of worship for all religions are guaranteed by law. For the Jewish population, supreme religious authority is vested in the Chief Rabbinate, made up of a chief rabbi . from the Ashkenazim and one from the Sephardim, along with the Supreme Rabbinical Council.
From the Rosh Hanikra grottoes in the North; (and moving southwards): the resort city of Nahariya; the walled Crusader city of Acre; Haifa;Caesarea, a Roman and (later) Crusader city, site of a reconstructed Roman amphitheatre and home of lsrael's only 18-hole golf course; Netanya, one of lsrael's major seaside resorts; Herzliya; with its new marina and deluxe hotels; Tel-Aviv-Jaffa; Bat Yam and Ashkelon, two seaside resort cities.
Israel's climate is Mediterranean in the north and arid in the south. In summer the entire area is dominated by a subtropical high that brings cloudless skies and no precipitation. In winter, the southern half of the country remains under the subtropical high, but weather in the northern half is influenced by cyclonic depressions that pass over the Mediterranean, bringing moderate rainfall. Precipitation in the north averages 700 mm (28 in), falling primarily from October to March. Rainfall amounts diminish rapidly to the south. Beyond BEERSHEBA and GAZA desert conditions predominate.
Average summer temperatures range from 18 degrees to 32 degrees C (65 degrees to 90 degrees F) over most of the country. Winters are mild, with temperatures averaging 14 degrees C (57 degrees F) along the coast and 9 degrees C (48 degrees F) in the mountains. The Rift Valley is about 9 C degrees (15 F degrees) warmer than the rest of the nation in winter. The Dead Sea area is the lowest place on the planet and the climate is one of the hottest regions in the world.
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