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Once covered with marshes, the Sharon plain was reclaimed in the post-Exilic and Hellenistic period and is now a settled area.Fields and fruit groves are laid out between scattered sandstone ridges, on which villages have grown up.Its mountains—Carmel, Gilboaʿ, Aybāl (Ebal), and Al-Ṭūr (Gerizim)—are lower than those of Upper Galilee, while its basins, notably those of the ʿArrābah Plain and Nāblus, are wider and more gently contoured than their equivalents in Judaea.Samaria is easily approached from the coast across the Plain of Sharon and from the Jordan by the Fāriʿah valley.Both the geographic area designated by the name and the political status of it have changed over the course of some three millennia.The region (or at least a part of it) is also known as the Holy Land and is held sacred among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.It is bounded by the Sinai Peninsula on the west and the northern extension of the Great Rift Valley on the east.The social geography of modern Palestine, especially the area west of the Jordan River, has been greatly affected by the dramatic political changes and wars that have brought this small region to the attention of the world.

It extends from Beersheba in the north, where 8 inches (200 mm) or more of precipitation falls annually and grain is grown, to the port city of Elat on the Red Sea, in the extremely arid south.After Roman times the name had no official status until after World War I and the end of rule by the Ottoman Empire, 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 Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan, which Britain placed under an administration separate from that of Palestine immediately after receiving the mandate for the territory.The name Palestine has long been in popular use as a general term to denote a traditional region, but this usage does not imply precise boundaries.In its northern section the bed of the drained Lake Ḥula and of Lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee) are blocked by natural dams of basalt.Descending to about 1,310 feet (400 metres) below sea level—the lowest land depth on the Earth’s surface—the valley is exceedingly dry and hot, and cultivation is restricted to irrigated areas or rare oases, as at Jericho or at ʿEn Gedi by the shore of the Dead Sea.North of the Bet Netofa Valley (Plain of Asochis) is Upper Galilee, with elevations of 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), a scrub-covered limestone plateau that is thinly populated.


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