Israel stand at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Africa and Asia. Its longest coastline is the Mediterranean Sea, which serves as its western border. Israel shares its eastern border – and the Dead Sea – with Jordan, Egypt list to the southwest, and Lebanon and Syria border Israel’s northern tip. The Gulf of Aqaba at Israel’s southernmost point leads to the Red Sea.
Israel occupies an area approximately the size of New Jersey – 7,992 square miles. It is hilly in the north, where the highest peak – mount Hermon – is in the Golan Heights. Mountain ranges run from north to south. The Golan Heights and Galilee stretch southward to the Jezreel Valley. Farther south are the ranges and hilly areas of Samaria and Judea in the west. The Negev Desert region occupies the southern half of Israel.
Founded in 1948, Israel is a parliamentary democracy, with an elected prime minister and a cabinet made up of various government portfolios.
Hebrew and Arabic are Israel’s official languages. English, the most common “foreign” language is spoken by most Israelis and is used on most signs.
Seven hours later than Eastern Standard Time.
Conditions of Entry
American visitors must hold a valid passport. Visas are not required. All other should inquire at the nearest Israel Consulate. Visitors can stay up to three months from date of arrival
No immunizations are required. It is safe to drink the water and eat fruits and vegetables.
Israel’s health and medical facilities are on a par with those found in the U.S. However, clients who take prescription medication should make sure they bring enough for the duration of their trip.
Bank and Currency
Most banks are open from 8:30 a.m. to noon., Sunday through Thursdays; also from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays; and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays and the eves of major Jewish holidays. Bank branches in major hotels usually offer convenient additional banking hours.
Israel’s currency is the shekel (IS), also called the new shekel (NIS). Each shekel is divided into 100 agorot. $1=approximately 4 shekels. (Check the latest exchange rate prior to departure.)
ATM’s linked with major American systems, are prevalent throughout Israel. Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout Israel.
The international dialing code for Israel is 972. To direct-dial Israel from overseas, omit the “0” in the local area code. Public telephones are operated with magnetic calling cards and can be purchased throughout Israel.
Electrical current is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 hertz. Most outlets are of the three-pronged variety, but many can accommodate some European two-pronged plugs as well. All hotels have 110-volt shaver sockets.
Good weather makes Israel’s tourist season a year-round one. Its three season are as follows:
Summer – June through early September
Temperatures run in the high 80s and 90s. Tel Aviv, the Mediterranean coast and Tiberias are humid. Jerusalem is dryer and cooler, particularly at night; even in July, a cotton sweater might be needed. Massada and Eilat are extremely hot, often reaching 110 degrees or more, but dry.
Shoulder – Late March through May; Late September through November
Daytime temperatures for most of Israel will be in the 70s, but in Jerusalem they can drop to the 60s or 50s. Evening temperatures remain pleasant, except in Jerusalem, where it can be quite cool.
Winter – December through early March
Weather fluctuates, with some winter mild and sunny and other severe and overcast. Usually there is substantial rain and possibly snow in January and February. Most daytime temperatures will be in the 50s or 60s, but in Jerusalem and the Galilee Hills average 40 degrees with very cold nights. Temperatures at the Dead Sea and in Eilat range in the 70s during these months, making this region ideal for winter vacations.