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 square kilometers, which included 445 square kilometers of inland water. Thus Israel was roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, stretching 424 kilometers from north to south. Its width ranged from 114 kilometers to, at its narrowest point, 10 kilometers. The area added to Israel after the June 1967 War, consisting of occupied territories.
The people of Israel (also called the "Jewish People") trace their origin to Abraham, who established the belief that there is only one God, the creator of the universe. Abraham, his son Yitshak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel), are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites. All three patriarchs lived in the Land of Canaan, that later came to be known as the Land of Israel. They and their wives are buried in the Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron.
Israel has a Mediterranean climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters, as modified locally by altitude and latitude. The climate is determined by Israel's location between the subtropical aridity characteristic of Egypt and the subtropical humidity of the Levant or eastern Mediterranean. January is the coldest month, with temperatures from 5 C to 10 C, and August is the hottest month at 18 C to 38 C. About 70 percent of the average rainfall in the country falls between November and March; June through August are often rainless. Rainfall is unevenly distributed, decreasing sharply as one moves southward. In the extreme south, rainfall averages less than 100 millimeters annually; in the north, average annual rainfall is 1,128 millimeters. Rainfall varies from season to season and from year to year, particularly in the Negev Desert. Precipitation is often concentrated in violent storms, causing erosion and flooding. During January and February, it may take the form of snow at the higher elevations of the central highlands, including Jerusalem. The areas of the country most cultivated are those that receive more than 300 millimeters of rainfall annually; about one-third of the country is cultivable.
The Israeli population is a linguistically and culturally diverse community. The 15th edition of Ethnologue lists 33 languages and dialects spoken in local communities, whether small or large. The main language used for communication among Israeli citizens is Modern Hebrew, a language that emerged in the late 19th century, based on different dialects of ancient Hebrew and somewhat influenced by Slavic languages and German. Several laws determine the official status of languages and language policy in Israel. This confusing situation led to several appeals to the supreme court, whose rulings enforced the current policy of national and local authorities.