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Palestine, area of the eastern Mediterranean region, comprising parts of modern Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip (along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea) and the West Bank (the area west of the Jordan River).The term Palestine has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with this small region, which some have asserted also includes Jordan.It is separated from the coastal plain by a longitudinal fosse and a belt of low hills of soft chalky limestone, about 5 to 8 miles (8 to 13 km) wide, known as Ha-Jordan Valley, which is approached with difficulty along the wadis Kelt and Mukallik.The Jordan Valley is a deep rift valley that varies in width from 1.5 to 14 miles (2.5 to 22 km).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.The city of Jerusalem has expanded rapidly along the mountain ridges.
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.
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.
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.The Negev, a desertlike region, is triangular in shape with the apex at the south.