Israel Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Israel?

Overview:

Israel is a narrow country at the junction of Asia and Africa. It takes about seven hours to drive its 280-mile length. The greatest distance east to west is about 65 miles.

The topography ranges from the rugged mountainous desert in the Dead Sea area to the flat coastal plain where Tel Aviv and Caesarea are located. The Negev Desert, Judean Hills, and the higher hills and mountains of the Galilee add to the variety of the country’s landscape. Over thousands of years, the rains have carved spectacular wadis or ravines in the permeable clay terrain of the remote desert areas where members of various religious sects have constructed their dwellings through the ages. There are also many natural caves, which were carved by the flow of rivers and subterranean waterways. Alongside rocky deserts, pleasant fields roll with wheat, olive trees, and grapevines.

The country has many natural parks, such as Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea, where one can find hills, forest, desert, and waterfalls in the same area. The highest point in Israel (excluding the areas occupied as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War) is Mt. Meron, at almost 4,000 feet; the lowest point is also the lowest point on Earth—the Dead Sea, some 1,200 feet below sea level. The colors of the landscape vary dramatically, depending on the season and the play of sunlight.

Geography - note:

Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source; the Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world (after Lake Assal in Djibouti); there are about 355 Israeli civilian sites including about 145 small outpost communities in the West Bank, 41 sites in the Golan Heights, and 32 in East Jerusalem

Climate:

The climate in Israel varies greatly from place to place. The coastal plain has wet, moderately cold winters with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-60s. Then comes a beautiful spring followed by a long, hot, and humid summer during which the temperature can be more than 100 degrees. Hot spells, known as "sharav" or "khamsin," are quite common during spring and summer and can cause significant discomfort to persons with respiratory problems. These often are accompanied by hot desert winds from the east or the south, carrying dust and sand from as far away as the Sahara. A cooler fall then leads to the beginning of the rainy season in late October or early November. Jerusalem, which is inland and in the Judean Hills, some 2,500 feet above sea level, is generally drier and colder throughout the entire year. In the summer, it gets very hot, but it remains less humid than the coast. In the winter Jerusalem temperatures regularly drop below freezing, and it snows occasionally. The Negev, in the south, is a hot, mostly barren desert. Throughout the country, the rainy season lasts from October or November until March or April. The rains often come in heavy downpours and thunderstorms.


With the first hint of summer, people go to the beach. Israelis love outdoor concerts in summer, and the spectacular ancient sites in Caesarea and Jaffa are used as open-air theaters. The high daytime temperatures are cooled off by evening breezes both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Outdoor dining is especially popular in summer.


Fall is somewhat like a southern U.S. fall, with cooler weather and leaves falling off of trees. Winter comes suddenly, and rain falls regularly. In some years, rainfall is sparse, causing water shortages. The northern mountains, particularly Mt. Hermon in the disputed Golan Heights, will often have snow. Toward the south and the Negev, the weather remains balmy, though the nights are cold.

Israel Use of Natural Resources

Israel Environment

Climate:

The climate in Israel varies greatly from place to place. The coastal plain has wet, moderately cold winters with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-60s. Then comes a beautiful spring followed by a long, hot, and humid summer during which the temperature can be more than 100 degrees. Hot spells, known as "sharav" or "khamsin," are quite common during spring and summer and can cause significant discomfort to persons with respiratory problems. These often are accompanied by hot desert winds from the east or the south, carrying dust and sand from as far away as the Sahara. A cooler fall then leads to the beginning of the rainy season in late October or early November. Jerusalem, which is inland and in the Judean Hills, some 2,500 feet above sea level, is generally drier and colder throughout the entire year. In the summer, it gets very hot, but it remains less humid than the coast. In the winter Jerusalem temperatures regularly drop below freezing, and it snows occasionally. The Negev, in the south, is a hot, mostly barren desert. Throughout the country, the rainy season lasts from October or November until March or April. The rains often come in heavy downpours and thunderstorms.


With the first hint of summer, people go to the beach. Israelis love outdoor concerts in summer, and the spectacular ancient sites in Caesarea and Jaffa are used as open-air theaters. The high daytime temperatures are cooled off by evening breezes both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Outdoor dining is especially popular in summer.


Fall is somewhat like a southern U.S. fall, with cooler weather and leaves falling off of trees. Winter comes suddenly, and rain falls regularly. In some years, rainfall is sparse, causing water shortages. The northern mountains, particularly Mt. Hermon in the disputed Golan Heights, will often have snow. Toward the south and the Negev, the weather remains balmy, though the nights are cold.

Terrain:

Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley

Natural Resources:

timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand

Natural Hazards:

sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes

Irrigated Land:

869 Square Miles
2,250 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

Limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides.

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Israel Geography

Geographic Location Middle East
Total Area 8,019 Square Miles
20,770 Square Kilometers
Land Area 7,849 Square Miles
20,330 Square Kilometers
Water Area 170 Square Miles
440 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 632 Miles
1,017 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 869 Square Miles
2,250 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Coastline 170 Miles
273 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 31 30 N, 34 45 E
Terrain Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Highest Point 1,208 Meters
Highest Point Location Har Meron 1,208 m
Lowest Point -408 Meters
Lowest Point Location Dead Sea -408 m
Natural Resources timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time +1hr, Friday before the last Sunday in March; ends the last Sunday in October
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