The region, an area of the eastern Mediterranean, comprising parts of modern Israel and Jordan.

The name describing the region has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with this small region. Both the geographic area designated by and the political status of the name have changed over the course of some three millennia. The region, or a part of it, is also known as the Holy Land and is held sacred among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In the 20th century it has been the object of conflicting claims of Jewish and Arab movements, and the conflict has led to prolonged violence and in several instances open warfare.

Those currently living in this region in modern times are sometimes referred to as Palestinians.


Info of the Region

Previously to the 16th century B.C., it appears that the region was subject to the power of Babylon.

Babylonian culture persisted even when the territory was mastered for a time by the Amorites. Early writings disclose the fact that the inhabitants of Canaan had commercial relations with Egypt.

Canaan was conquered first by the Egyptian King Thothmes III in the first half of the 15th century B.C.

The period of Egyptian supremacy was inturrupted for some time by the inroads of the Hittites from the north. About 1350 B.C. however, the power of Egypt was again dominant in Canaan. It was within the following two centuries that the country was subjected to invasion by the Israelites.

For a brief period in the 10th century B.C., the entire area, with some adjacent territory was brought under the power of the independent kingdom of Israel and was ruled by David and his successor Solomon. The subsequent division of the realm between northern Israel and Judah left the land easy prey to the Assyrian and the Babylonian Empire.

The northern kingdom fell in 722 B.C. and the southern, Judah fell in 586 B.C. The inhabitants were then taken to babylon and were later permitted to return to the region in the reigns of Cyrus and Darius of Persia.

The conquests of Alexander the Great at the end of the 4th century B.C. brought a strong Greek influence to the region. Afer his death the region passed to the control of the Ptolemies of Egypt, and later in 197 B.C., it came into the power or Antiochus of Syria. In 186 B.C. the Jews, led by the Maccabean Princes, threw off the tyranny of the Syrian ruler and set up an independent state extending throughout the south from the river Jordan to the sea.

In 63 B.C., internal strife opened the way for intervention and conquest by the Romans. A revolt of the Jews in 66-67 A.D. resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) A second rebellion in 132-135 A.D. resulted in the final dispersion of the Hebrews.

For a brief period in the early part of the 7th century, the area was under Persian control. In 636, Jerusalem surrendered to Muslim armies under Omar.

Towards the end of the 11th century, the region became the goal of the crusaders, who in 1099, established the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. This lasted barely a century. The country remained in the hands of Islamic powers until it was conquered by Allied troops in 1918, and assigned as a mandate to Great Britain.

The name is derived from Philistia, the name given by Greek writers to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th century BC occupied a small pocket of land on the southern coast, between modern Tel Aviv–Yafo and Gaza. The name was revived by the Romans in the 2nd century AD in “Syria Palaestina,” designating the southern portion of the province of Syria. After Roman times the name had no official status until after World War I and the end of Ottoman rule, when it was adopted for one of the regions mandated to Great Britain; in addition to an area roughly comprising present-day Israel and the West Bank, the mandate included the territory east of the Jordan River now constituting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The name of the province has long been in popular use as a general term to denote a traditional region, but this usage does not imply precise boundaries. The perception of what constitutes the region's eastern boundary has been especially fluid, although the boundary frequently has been perceived as lying east of the Jordan River, extending at times to the edge of the Arabian Desert. In contemporary understanding, however, the area is generally defined as a region bounded on the east by the Jordan River, on the north by the border between modern Israel and Lebanon, on the west by the Mediterranean Sea (including the coast of Gaza), and on the south by the Negev, with its southernmost extension reaching the Gulf of Aqaba.

The strategic importance of the area is immense: through it pass the main roads from Egypt to Syria and from the Mediterranean to the hills beyond the Jordan River.

Settlement is closely dependent on water, which is almost never abundant. The rainfall, which arrives in the cool half of the year, decreases in amount in general from north to south and from the coast inland. Perennial rivers are few, and the shortage of water is aggravated by the porous nature of the limestone rocks over much of the country.

For genealogical help with the countries most closely associated with the region, see Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Population: West Bank: 2,611,904. Gaza Strip: 1,537,269


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