Israel is located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded on the north by Lebanon, on the northeast by Syria, on the east and southeast by Jordan, on the southwest by Egypt, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Before June 1967, the area composing Israel (resulting from the armistice lines of 1949 and 1950) was about 20,700 km² (8,000 mi²), which included 445 km² (172 mi²) of inland waters. Thus Israel was roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, stretching 424 km (263 mi) from north to south. Its width ranged from 114 km (71 mi) to, at its narrowest point, 15 km (9 mi). In the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured territories totaling an additional 7,099 km² (2,743 mi²). These territories include the West Bank, 5,879 km² (2,270 mi²); East Jerusalem (annexed, according Israeli law), 70 km² (27 mi²); and the Golan Heights (de facto annexation), 1,150 km² (444 mi²).
The country is divided into three major longitudinal strips: the coastal plain, which follows the Mediterranean shoreline in a southward widening band; the hill region, embracing the hills of Galilee in the north, Samaria and Judea in the centre, and the Negev in the south; and the Jordan Valley. Except for the Bay of Acre, the sandy coastline is not indented for its entire length. The hill region, averaging 610 m (2,000 ft) in elevation, reaches its highest point at Mt. Meron (1,208 m/3,963 ft), near Zefat.
South of the Judean hills, the Negev desert, marked by cliffs and craters and covering about half the total area of Israel proper, extends down to the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea. The Jordan River, which is the most important river, forming the border between Israel (including the West Bank) and Jordan, links the only bodies of water in the country: the Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret) and the heavily saline Dead Sea (Yam ha-Melah), which, at 408 m (1,339 ft) below sea level, is the lowest point on the earth's surface.
Although climatic conditions are varied across the country, the climate is generally temperate. The coldest month is January; the hottest, August. In winter, snow occasionally falls in the hills, where January temperatures normally fluctuate between 4° and 10°C (40–50°F), and August temperatures between 18° and 29°C (65–85° F). On the coastal plain, sea breezes temper the weather all year round, temperature variations ranging from 8° to 18°C (47–65°F) in January and 21° to 29°C (70–85°F) in August. In the south, at Eilat, January temperatures range between 10° and 21°C (50–70° F) and may reach 49°C (120°F) in August. The rainy season lasts from October until April, with rainfall averaging 118 cm (44 in) annually in the Upper Galilee and only 2 cm (0.8 in) at Eilat, although dewfall gives the south another several inches of water every year.
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
31 30 N, 34 45 E
total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
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