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In the early 21st century, Israeli Jews constituted roughly half of the population west of the Jordan, while Arabs—Muslim, Christian, and Druze—and other smaller minorities accounted for the rest.
The term Palestine has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with this small region, which some have asserted also includes Jordan.The maritime plain connects with Esdraelon by the pass of Megiddo and several lesser routes between the mountain spurs of Carmel and Gilboaʿ.Galilee is better-watered and more thickly wooded than that of Samaria or Judaea.The city of Jerusalem has expanded rapidly along the mountain ridges.From Ramallah in the north to Beersheba in the south, the high plateau of Judaea is a rocky wilderness of limestone, with rare patches of cultivation, as found around Al-Bīrah and Hebron.The plain, 16 miles (26 km) wide at most, narrows to the northwest, where the Qishon River breaks through to the Plain of ʿAkko, and to the southeast, where the Ḥarod River—which rises at the Spring of Ḥarod—has carved the plain into the side of the Jordan Valley.
Covered with rich basaltic soils washed down from the Galilean hills, Esdraelon is important both for its fertility and for the great highway it opens from the Mediterranean to the lands across the Jordan.
Precipitation, 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.
South of the spur of low hills that approaches the coast at about Yafo (Jaffa), the plain widens into a fertile region known in biblical times as Philistia, a district of orange groves, irrigated orchards, and fields of grain.
Farther northward the Plain of Esdraelon (ʿEmeq Yizreʿel), formed by subsidence along lines of faults, separates the hills of southern Galilee from the mountains of Samaria.
For further reading on the political units most closely associated with Palestine, Plain of ʿAkko (Acre), which extends with a breadth of 5 to 9 miles (8 to 14 km) for about 20 miles (32 km) from the Lebanon border in the north to the Carmel promontory, in Israel, in the south, where it narrows to a mere 600 feet (180 metres).