Israel was established as a state for the Jewish people, following the Second World War. Israel is
considered part of the Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories). The three
major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—all have historical ties to the region. Israel thus
contains a vibrant modern history and culture, based in part on the diverse, immigrant origins of its inhabitants
returning from the Jewish Diaspora. These aspects make Israel a fascinating destination for many travellers and
pilgrims. As a result of this vast mix of culture, in addition to the official languages of Hebrew and Arabic,
Russian, French, Spanish, Amharic and Yiddish are also spoken by a significant minority of Israelis. English in
many ways acts as second language. Within Israel's recognized pre-1967 borders, about 80% of Israelis identify
themselves as Jewish, the remainder classify themselves as either as Arab and/or Palestinian, Bedouin, Baha'i, Muslim,
Christian or Druze.
Israel is a highly urbanized and economically developed society and is therefore best divided for the traveler into its main
cities and towns, followed by the regions and other sites.
While the current State of Israel is a relatively new country founded in 1948,
the Land of Israel has a long and often very complex history stretching back thousands of years to the very beginnings of human
civilization. It has been invaded by virtually every Old World empire including the Persians, Romans, Ottomans, and British.
(Even the Mongols once raided cities on what is now Israeli soil.) It is also the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity.
Jerusalem is a sacred city for all three of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.