Despite being surrounded by war and conflicts the nation of Israel continues to draw thousands of tourists each year, many who come on religious pilgrimages to experience the Holy Land.
Many visitors enjoy the Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and war, dry summers. While the country is made up of 83 percent Jews, 17 percent Arabs the remainder is mostly Christian with some 70 countries represented by the many Jews who have come here to live.
Sephardi Jews from Arab countries and parts of Asia make up most of the Jewish population but Ashkenazi Jews from industralized Western nations mostly control the government and economy.
Many observers consider Israeli to be the most democratic nation in the Mid-East and residents are much like Europeans and Americans with similar dress and eating habits. Boiled or roasted meat is enjoyed daily by many, chicken is common and fruits, vegetables and salads are enjoyed – eggplant being one of the most popular.
Saturday is considered the day of rest and worship and the two most famous holidays are Rosh Hashanah – New Year and Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement.
Visitors as well as Israelis enjoy and visit the many archaeological sites in the country, Much stress is put on Hebrew language and culture and singing/folk-dancing attracts participants and viewers. The country has some 250 cultural institutions.
Masada, an ancient fortress near the Dead Sea is one of many historical sites in the country.
Visitors to Israel may enjoy touring a kibbutz or collective settlement where residents own the property in common and mostly farm.
Israel has several hundred of these collective communities that are home to a small percentage of the population.
Tel Aviv-Jaffa – The entertainment center of the nation featuring beaches, modern hotels, shops, cafes, theaters, concert halls and museums. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has a world-wide reputation among classical music listeners.
Jerusalem – The true Holy Land can be found in what is called the “old city” where holy places of the three major religions are located – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Haifa – A beautiful port city with Mount Carmel as the backdrop and it is here on the mount that the Baha’i faith has established their world center.
Despite wars, Israel has a high standard of living. Most tourists visiting the country stay in beachside towns and Jerusalem where many Christians, Jews and Muslims make pilgramages.