Country of the Week: Israel

From the sweeping views of valleys and hills, the bizarre beauty of the Dead Sea, and the historic Nazareth and Jerusalem, to the pulsating wonders of Tel Aviv, there's a distinct charm about Israel that draws all kinds visitors. Before you plan your visit to this country, here are basic facts worth keeping in mind.
Other title(s): Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Holy Land, Palestine
Continent: Asia
Capital: Jerusalem
Most populous city:Jerusalem
Current political leader: Reuven Rivlin
Currency: Israeli new shekel
Language(s): Hebrew, Arabic
Major Religion(s): Jewish, Muslim, Christian
Famous landmarks: Sea of Galilee, Mount Zion, Masada Natl. Park, Ein Gedi
National Symbol: animal: Israeli Gazelle; bird: Hoopoe; coat of arms: blue shield depicting a menorah surrounded by olive branches; dog: Canaan Dog; flower: Cyclamen
Movies filmed in Israel: Rambo III, A Tale of Love and Darkness, The Insider, Jesus Christ Superstar, Schindler's List, Don't Mess with the Zohan
Famous people: Natalie Portman, Gal Gadot, Sue Bird, Uri Geller, Amir Blumenfeld, Raviv Ullman, Itzhak Perlman
Climate: Israel's location is characterized as a subtropical region, between temperate and tropical zones. Northern and coastal areas in Israel have hot and dry summers while being very chilly in the rainy season. The southern and eastern areas, however are known to have very arid climates.
Popular festivals: Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair, Red Sea Jazz Festival, Seven Feasts of Israel, Hutzot HaYotzer, Tel Aviv Pride Week