Israel is located in Southwest Asia between the Mediterranean and the deserts of Syria and Arabia. The country's geographical borders are the Mediterranean to the West, the Jordan Valley Rift to the East, the mountains of Lebanon to the North with Eilat Bay marking the country's southern tip. Although small in territory, Israel's landscape and climate are varied, and its dense population does not interfere with a wealth of plants and wildlife, as well as many natural attractions.
Israel is divided into three main regions lengthwise: the coastal plain, the mountain region, and the Jordan Valley Rift.
The country's western strip, stretching from Rosh Ha-Nikra in the north to the Sinai Peninsula in the south. The plain is 4-7 kilometers wide in the north, expanding as it moves southward to about 50 kilometers.
The soil in the coastal plain is fertile; there are several water sources, and the region includes the country’s major transportation arteries. The coastal plain is densely populated with most of Israel's major cities, including Tel Aviv and Haifa.
The plain is divided from north to south into the Galilee Plain, the Acre Plain, the Carmel Plain, the Sharon Plain, the Mediterranean Coastal Plain, and the Southern Coastal Plain. East of the coastal plain are the lowlands – moderate hills that create a transitional region between the coast and the mountains.
The mountainous region stretches from Lebanon in the north to Eilat Bay in the south, between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley Rift. Its highest peaks are the Galilee's Mt. Meron at 1,208 meters above sea level, Samaria's Mt. Ba’al Hatsor at 1,016 meters and the Negev's Mt. Ramon at 1,037 meters above sea level.
Most of the less densely populated mountainous region is stone or rocky ground. The climate in the northern mountainous regions is Mediterranean and rainy, while the southern sections are a desert. The key stretches of the mountainous region are the Galilee in the north, the Carmel, the hills of Samaria, the Judean hills, and the Negev highlands.
The contiguity of the mountainous region is interrupted at two points by major valleys – the Yizre'el (Jezre'el) Valley separating the Galilee mountains from the hills of Samaria, and the Be'er Sheva-Arad Rift separating the Judean hills from the Negev highlands. The eastern slopes of the Samarian hills and Judean hills are the Samarian and Judean deserts.
Jordan Valley Rift
The rift extends the entire length of Israel from the northern town of Metula to the Red Sea in the south.
The rift was caused by seismic activity, and is part of the Afro-Syrian rift which extends from the Syrian-Turkish border to the Zambezi River in Africa. Israel's largest river, the Jordan, flows through the Jordan Valley and includes Israel's two lakes: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the largest body of fresh water in Israel, and the salt water Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. The Jordan Valley is divided from north to south into the Hula Valley, the Kinneret Valley, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea Valley and the Arava.
The hilly Golan region is east of the Jordan River. The Israeli Golan Heights are the end of a large basalt plain, mostly located in Syria. North of the Golan Heights is Mt. Hermon, Israel's highest peak at 2,224 meters above sea level.