The State of Israel gained independence in 1948, and is a democratic society with 8.5 million inhabitants. It is home to Jews, Arabs (Muslim and Christian), Bedouin, Druze, amongst others.
Geographically, it is a small country, and is comprised of areas and climates that differ vastly from one another. It has the humid and warm western Mediterranean coastal plain, the cool mountains of the Galilee in the north, the dry hills of Judea in the east and the extremely hot Negev Desert in the south.
Within its small perimeters, Israel is abundant in fascinating archeological and Biblical sites, such as Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Masada, Tiberias, Acre, Jaffa, Sea of Galilee, and many more. Israel has a rich history, going back more than 3000 years: the Canaanite period, Kingdoms of Judah and Israel, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Empires, Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman and British periods, have each left their marks.
In the last century, Israel has seen the revival of the Hebrew language and the evolution of a flourishing culture, including literature, music, dance and art. Throughout those years, universities, research centers and scientific institutes were established, and a sophisticated high-tech industry was formed. In Israel one may encounter different multi-faceted cultures, from modern cosmopolitan cities, such as Tel Aviv, to Israel's unique communal society, the Kibbutz. Israel's cuisine reflects its multicultural society based on different food traditions from all over the world. From falafel stands to gourmet restaurants, Israel offers a wide spectrum of Mediterranean, Oriental, European and Asian food as well as a variety of refined, locally produced wines.
Photo credit: Viktor Szalai