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Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon. (Note: Arab territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the data below. It is U.S. policy that the final status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has yet to be determined.)
Population: 5.4 million (1995 estimate)
Capital: Jerusalem (Note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem its capital in 1950, but the United States, like nearly all other countries, does not recognize this status, and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv)
Comparative area: Slightly larger than New Jersey
Religions: Judaism 82 percent, Islam 14 percent (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2 percent, Druze and other 2 percent
Landscape: Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley; Israel makes up most of the Biblical Holy Land, the place where the religious and national identity of the Jews developed; according to the Bible, Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, established a Semitic population in the Holy Land
Recognized by International Olympic Committee: 1952

Source: Knight-Ridder/Tribune

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