Middle East geography from north to south.
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Region, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It extends east to the Jordan River, north to the border between Israel and Lebanon, west to the Mediterranean, and south to the Negev desert, reaching the Gulf of Aqaba. The political status and geographic area designated by the term have changed considerably over the course of three millennia. The eastern boundary has been particularly fluid, often understood as lying east of the Jordan and extending at times to the edge of the Arabian Desert. A land of sharp contrasts, Palestine includes the Dead Sea, the lowest natural point of elevation on Earth, and mountain peaks higher than 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level. In the 20th and 21st centuries it has been the object of conflicting claims by Jewish and Arab national movements. The region is sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Settled since early prehistoric times, mainly by Semitic groups, it was occupied in biblical times by the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, and Judaea. It was subsequently held by virtually every power of the Middle East, including the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, and Ottomans. It was governed by Britain after the end of World War I (191418)from 1922, under a League of Nations mandateuntil 1948, when the State of Israel was proclaimed. Armies from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and Iraq attacked the next day. They were defeated by the Israeli army. See Israel, Jordan, West Bank, and Gaza Strip for later history of the region.
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