Israel is located, between 29°-33° north of the equator, which is characterized as a subtropical region, between the temperate zone and the tropical zone. Israel’s climate is characterized by much sunshine, the rainy season extends from October to early May, and rainfall peaks in December through February. Total annual precipitation ranges from 20-50 inches (50-125 cm.) in the north to less than an inch (2.5 cm.) in the far south.
Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters, with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south.
Flora and Fauna
The rich variety of Israel’s plant and animal life reflects its geographical location as well as its varied topography and climate. Some 47,000 living species have been identified in Israel, with another 4,000 assumed to exist. There are 116 species of mammals native to Israel, 511 kinds of birds, 97 types of reptiles and seven types of amphibians. Some 2,780 types of plants grow countrywide, from Alpine flowers on northern mountain slopes to bright red coral peonies and desert papyrus reeds in the south.
Cultivated fruits such as bananas, oranges and other citrus fruits dominate the coastal plain. Deciduous fruit trees grow all over the country. Dates, bananas, avocado, guava and mango flourish in the hot Jordan valley. The basic grains rub shoulders with vegetables and tobacco, cotton, groundnuts and sugar beets.
The largest land animals are mountain gazelles, wild boar, foxes, jungle cats, Nubian ibex and the rarely seen leopards, hyenas, jackals and wolves. In all, there are 116 different species of land animals in Israel.
Elat’s coral reef is regarded as a national treasure, and its corals, sponges and shellfish have been protected since 1956. The reef ecosystem is one of the most diverse in the world: 1,270 different species of fish, belonging to 157 families, make their home there, along with hundreds of species of coral and 1,120 species of mollusk.