FACTOID # 24: Looking for table makers? Head to Mississippi, with an overwhlemingly large number of employees in furniture manufacturing.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Jerusalem, Israel
For other uses, see Jerusalem (disambiguation).

Jerusalem (Modern Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַיִם Yerushalyim, Biblical and trad. Sephardi Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַםִ, Arabic: القدس al-Quds, see also names of Jerusalem) is an ancient Middle Eastern city of key importance to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

With today's population of 681,000, it is a richly heterogeneous city, representing a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups. The section called the "Old City" is surrounded by walls and has four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim.

The status of the city is hotly disputed. The 1949 cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan, also known as the Green Line, cuts through the city. After Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, it controls the entire city and claims sovereignty over it. According to Israeli Jerusalem Law, Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and is the center of Jerusalem District; it serves as the country's seat of government and otherwise functions as capital. Many countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over some or all of the city and enforce this view by maintaining their embassies in Tel Aviv or in the suburbs. Palestinians also claim all or part of Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The origin of the name of the city is uncertain. A common theory is that it combines the names of two Biblical cities which may have been Jerusalem: Jebus (named after the founder of the Jebusites) and Salem (The name that is used in Genesis 14:18 see the commentator the Ramban for explanation). It is also possible to translate the name as either "Foundation of Salem" or "Foundation of Peace". It is also known by some as the City of David and Zion.

Aerial view of Temple Mount, with the Dome of the Rock in the center and the Al Aqsa Mosque on the upper left of the compound



This city has known many wars and various periods of occupation. At one time it was a city of the Jebusites. Later it came under Jewish control. The Bible records that King David defeated the Jebusites in war and captured the city without destroying it. David then expanded the city to the south, and declared it the capital city of the united Kingdom of Israel.

Later, still according to the Bible, the First Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. The Temple became a major cultural center in the region, eventually overcoming other ritual centers such as Shilo and Bethel. By the end of the "First Temple Period," Jerusalem was the sole acting religious shrine in the kingdom and a center of regular pilgrimage. It was at this time that historical records begin to corroborate the biblical history, the kings of Judah are historically identifiable, and we learn of the significance the Temple had.

Near the end of the reign of King Solomon, the northern ten tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria. Jerusalem then become the capital of the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah.

Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judah for some 400 years. It had survived (or, as some historians claim, averted) an Assyrian siege in 701 BC, unlike Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, which had fallen some twenty years previously. However, the city was overcome by the Babylonians in 586 BC, who then took the young king Jehoiachin into eternal captivity, together with most of the aristocracy of that time. However, the country rebelled again under Zedekiah, prompting the city's repeated conquest and destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. The temple was burnt, and the city's walls were ruined, thus rendering what remained of the city unprotected.

After several decades of captivity and the Persian conquest of Babylon, the Persians allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the city's walls and the Temple. It has continued to be the capital of Judah, as a province under the Persians, Greek and Romans, with a relatively short period of independence. The Temple complex was upgraded and the Temple itself rebuilt under Herod the Great. That structure is known as the Second Temple.

First millennium

A coin issued by the rebels in AD 68. Obverse: "Shekel Israel, year 3". Reverse: "Jerusalem the Holy" and a pomegranate branch.
Sack of Jerusalem. A fragment from the Arch of Titus, Rome.

The city was ruined yet again when a civil war accompanied by a revolt against Rome in Judea led to the city's repeated sack and ruin at the hands of Titus in AD 70.

The Second Temple was burnt, and the whole city was ruined. The only remaining part of the Temple was a portion of an external (retaining) wall which became known as the Western Wall.

Sixty years later, after crushing the Bar Kokhba's revolt, the Roman emperor Hadrian resettled the city as a pagan polis under the name Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to enter the city, but for a single day of the year, Tisha B'Av, (the Ninth of Av, see Hebrew calendar), when they could weep for the destruction of their city at the Temple's only remaining wall.

The Byzantines cherished the city for its Christian history. However, in accordance with traditions of religious tolerance often found in the ancient East, Jews were allowed into it in the 5th century.

Although the Koran does not mention the name "Jerusalem", the Hadith specify that it was from Jerusalem that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in the Night Journey, or Isra and Miraj. The city was one of the Arab Caliphate's first conquests in AD 638; according to Arab historians of the time, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab personally went to the city to receive its submission, cleaning out and praying at the Temple Mount in the process. Some Muslim and non-Muslim sources add that he built a mosque there. Sixty years later, the Dome of the Rock was built, a structure in which there lies the stone where Muhammad is said to have tethered his mount Buraq during the Isra. This is also reputed to be the place where Abraham went to sacrifice his son (Isaac in the Jewish tradition, Ishmael in the Muslim one.) Note that the octagonal and gold-sheeted Dome is not the same thing as the Al-Aqsa Mosque beside it, which was built more than three centuries later.

Map of Jerusalem as it appeared in the years 958-1052, according to Arab geographers such as al-Muqaddasi.

Under the early centuries of Muslim rule, the city prospered; the geographers Ibn Hawqal and al-Istakhri (10th century) describe it as "the most fertile province of Palestine", while its native son the geographer al-Muqaddasi (born 946) devoted many pages to its praises in his most famous work, The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Climes.

Second millennium

The early Arab period was also one of religious tolerance. However, in early 11th century, the insane Egyptian Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Jerusalem, a policy reversed by his successors. Reports of this were one cause of the First Crusade, which marched off from Europe to the area, and, on July 15, 1099, Christian soldiers took Jerusalem after a difficult one month siege. They then proceeded to slaughter most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. Raymond d'Aguiliers, chaplain to Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote:

Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious ceremonies were ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood. (Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other source materials, p. 214)

Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a feudal state, of which the King of Jerusalem was the chief. Neither Jews nor Muslims were allowed into the city during that time. The Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted until 1291; however, Jerusalem itself was recaptured by Saladin in 1187, who permitted worship of all religions.

In 1173 Benjamin of Tudela visited Jerusalem. He described it as a small city full of Jacobites, Armenians, Greeks, and Georgians. Two hundred Jews dwelt in a corner of the city under the Tower of David.

In 1219 the walls of the city were taken down by order of the Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls; but they were again demolished by Da'ud, the emir of Kerak.

In 1243 Jerusalem came again into the power of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244; and they in turn were driven out by the Egyptians in 1247. In 1260 the Tatars under Hulaku Khan overran the whole land, and the Jews that were in Jerusalem had to flee to the neighboring villages.

In 1244, Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the city walls, rendering it again defenseless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status. In the middle of the 13th century, Jerusalem was captured by the Egyptian Mameluks. In 1517, it was taken over by the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed a period of renewal and peace under Suleiman the Magnificent - including the rebuilding of magnificent walls of what is now known as the Old City (however, some of the wall foundations are remains of genuine antique walls). The rule of Suleiman and the following Ottoman Sultans brought an age of "religious peace"; Jew, Christian and Muslim enjoyed the freedom of religion the Ottomans granted them and it was possible to find a synagogue, a church and a mosque in the same street. The city remained open to all religions, although the empire's faulty management after Suleiman meant slow economical stagnation.

View and Plan of Jerusalem. A woodcut in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi", Nuremberg, 1493

In 1482, the visiting Dominican priest Felix Fabri described Jerusalem as a dwelling place of diverse nations of the world, and is, as it were, a collection of all manner of abominations. As abominations he listed Saracens, Greeks, Syrians, Jacobites, Abyssianians, Nestorians, Armenians, Gregorians, Maronites, Turcomans, Bedouins, Assassins, a sect possibly Druze, Mamelukes, and the most accursed of all, Jews. Only the Latin Christians long with all their hearts for Christian princes to come and subject all the country to the authority of the Church of Rome. (A. Stewart, Palestine Pilgrims Text Society, Vol 9-10, p. 384-391)

19th-early 20th centuries

The modern history of Jerusalem began in the mid-nineteenth century, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the city was a backwater, with a population that did not exceed 8,000. Nevertheless, it was, even then, an extremely heterogeneous city because of its significance to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The population was divided into four major communities--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian--and the first three of these could be further divided into countless subgroups, based on precise religious affiliation or country of origin. An example of this would be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was meticulously partitioned between the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian churches. Tensions between the groups ran so deep that the keys to the shrine were kept with a 'neutral' Muslim family for safekeeping.

At that time, the communities were located mainly around their primary shrines. The Muslim community, then the largest, surrounded the Haram ash-Sharif or Temple Mount (northeast), the Christians lived mainly in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (northwest), the Jews lived mostly on the slope above the Western Wall (southeast), and the Armenians lived near the Zion Gate (southwest). In no way was this division exclusive, however, it did form the basis of the four quarters during the British Mandate period (1917-1948).

1888 German map of Jerusalem

Several changes occurred in the mid-nineteenth century, which had long-lasting effects on the city: their implications can be felt today and lie at the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over Jerusalem. The first of these was a trickle of Jewish immigrants, from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, which shifted the balance of population. The first such immigrants were ultra-Orthodox Jews: some were elderly individuals, who came to die in Jerusalem and be buried on the Mount of Olives; others were students, who came with their families to await the coming of the Messiah, and adding new life to the local population. At the same time, European colonial powers also began seeking toeholds in the city, hoping to expand their influence pending the imminent collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This was also an age of Christian religious revival, and many churches sent missionaries to proselytize among the Muslim and especially the Jewish populations, believing that this would speed the Second Coming of Christ. Finally, the combination of European colonialism and religious zeal was expressed in a new scientific interest in the biblical lands in general and Jerusalem in particular. Archeological and other expeditions made some spectacular finds, which increased interest in Jerusalem even more.

By the 1860s, the city, with an area of only 1 square kilometer, was already overcrowded. Thus began the construction of the New City, the part of Jerusalem outside of the city walls. Seeking new areas to stake their claims, the Russian Orthodox Church began constructing a complex, now known as the Russian Compound, a few hundred meters from Jaffa Gate. The first attempt at residential settlement outside the walls of Jerusalem was begun by Jews, who built a small complex on the hill overlooking Zion Gate, across the Valley of Hinnom. This settlement, known as Mishkenot Shaananim, eventually flourished and set the precedent for other new communities to spring up to the west and north of the Old City. In time, as the communities grew and connected geographically, this became known as the New City.

British conquest

Jewish Legion soldiers at the Western Wall after taking part in 1917 British conquest of Jerusalem

The British were victorious over the Turks in the Middle East and with victory in Palestine, General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Jerusalem on foot, out of respect for the Holy City, on December 11th, 1917. By the time General Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottomans in 1917, the new city was a patchwork of neighborhoods and communities, each with a distinct ethnic character.

This continued under British rule, as the neighborhoods flourished and the Old City of Jerusalem gradually emerged as little more than an impoverished older neighborhood. One of the British bequests to the city was a town planning order requiring new buildings in the city to be faced with sandstone thus preserving some of the overall look of the city.


Jerusalem is situated in 31 46′ 45″ N. lat. and 35 13′ 25″ E. long., upon the southern spur of a plateau the eastern side of which slopes from 2,460 ft. above sea-level north of the Temple area to 2,130 ft. at the southeastern extremity. The western hill is about 2,500 ft. high and slopes southeast from the Judean plateau.

Jerusalem is surrounded upon all sides by valleys, of which those on the north are less pronounced than those on the other three sides. The principal two valleys start northwest of the present city. The first runs eastward with a slight southerly bend (the present Wadi al-Joz), then, deflecting directly south (formerly known as "Kidron Valley," the modern Wadi Sitti Maryam), divides the Mount of Olives from the city. The second runs directly south on the western side of the city, turns eastward at its southeastern extremity, then runs directly east, and joins the first valley near Bir Ayyub ("Job's Well"). It was called in olden times the "Valley of Hinnom," and is the modern Wadi al-Rababi, which is not to be identified with the first-mentioned valley.

A third valley, commencing in the northwest where is now the Damascus Gate, ran south-southeasterly down to the Pool of Siloam, and divided the lower part into two hills (the lower and the upper cities of Josephus). This is probably the later Tyropoeon ("Cheese-makers'") valley. A fourth valley led from the western hill (near the present Jaffa Gate) over to the Temple area: it is represented in modern Jerusalem by David Street. A fifth cut the eastern hill into a northern and a southern part. Later Jerusalem was thus built upon four spurs.

Today, neighboring towns are Bethlehem and Beit Jala at the southern city border, and Abu Dis to the East.

Neighborhoods, places and monuments

West City


  • Ba'aka
  • German Colony
  • Greek Colony
  • Katamonim
    • Old Katamon
  • Ramot
  • Rekhavia
  • Qiriat HaYovel
  • Talbieh
  • Talpiot


Buildings and Monuments

see also: Museums in West Jerusalem


Archeological Monuments

  • The tombs of the Kings

East City


Mount Olives and Mounts Scopus



see also: Museums in East Jerusalem

Local government


See the List of mayors of Jerusalem

Current mayor of Jerusalem is Uri Lupolianski, member of the local United Torah Judaism faction and the first Haredi Jew to attain this position in the city.


Jerusalem's population at different times
Year Jews Muslims Christians Total
1525 1000 3700  ? 4700
1538 1150 6750  ? 7900
1553 1634 11,750  ? 12,384
1562 1200 11,450  ? 12,650
1844 7120 5000 3390 15,510
1876 12,000 7560 5470 25,030
1896 28,110 8560 8750 45,420
1922 34,000 13,400 14,700 62,600
1931 51,200 19,900 19,300 90,500
1944 97,000 30,600 29,400 157,000
1948 100,000 40,000 25,000 165,000
1967 195,700 54,963 12,646 263,307
1980 292,300  ?  ? 407,100
1985 327,700  ?  ? 457,700
1987 340,000 121,000 14,000 475,000
1990 378,200 131,800 14,400 524,400
1995 482,000 164,300 16,300 662,600
1996 421,200  ?  ? 602,100
2000 448,800 208,700  ? 657,500
2004 464,000  ?  ? 692,000

External sources

  • PASSIA (http://www.passia.org/palestine_facts/pdf/pdf2002/jerusalem/populations-j.pdf) Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (pro-Palestinian site)
  • Focus on Jerusalem (http://focusonjerusalem.com/jerusalempopchart.html) Biblical Prophecy Ministry (Christian site)
  • British census (1922,1931), British estimate (1944) at Jewishpeople.net (http://www.jewishpeople.net/demofjer.html#Table%201) (pro-Israel site)

Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict

The United Nations proposed, in its 1947 plan for the partition of Palestine, for Jerusalem to be a city under international administration. See [1] (http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/db942872b9eae454852560f6005a76fb/6232f2ac638dc241852560e5005c1f2b!OpenDocument). However, on January 23, 1950 the Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when a Palestinian-Arab state failed to materialize and the British Mandate of Palestine was invaded by Egypt and Jordan, Jerusalem was divided. The Western half of the New City became part of the new state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. Jordan did not allow Jewish access to the Western Wall (known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall) and Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest sites, in the Old City. Jordan constructed a slum within a few feet of the base of the Western Wall and used the area as a garbage dump, and converted some churches to mosques. Christian access to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount was allowed in many cases, but this was seldom in use, as most of the Christians in Jerusalem were UN officials running between the divided parts.

East Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis in the Six-Day War of 1967, along with the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Under Israel, members of all religions were largely granted access to their holy sites. The slum in front of the Wall was removed and a large open air plaza constructed. This plaza is a favored site of Jewish prayer services. However, concerns have been raised about several attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, notably a serious fire in 1969 (arson by a delusional Australian tourist) and tunnels opened beneath that mosque, discovered in 1981, 1988 and 1996 [2] (http://www.aqsa.org.uk/flyers/attacks.html). The status of East Jerusalem remains a highly controversial issue.

See also: Crusades, Temple in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Orient House

Current status

Israeli law designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; only a few countries recognize this designation. See #Status_as_Israel's_capital.

According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city, not part of either the proposed Jewish or Arab state. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, West Jerusalem was occupied by Israel, while East Jerusalem (including the Old City) was occupied by Jordan, along with the West Bank. The Jordanian annexation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was not internationally recognized, except by the United Kingdom and Pakistan.

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, and began taking steps to unify the city under Israeli control. It annexed 6.4 km of Jordanian Jerusalem and 64 km of the nearby West Bank. (see Maps of Jerusalem pre- and post-1967 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/world/2001/israel_and_palestinians/key_maps/3.stm)). Residents of the annexed territory were offered Israeli citizenship on condition they renounce their Jordanian citizenship, which most of them refused to do.

In 1988, Jordan withdrew all its claims to the West Bank (including Jerusalem) in favor of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is also controversial. The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have a 'permanent resident' status, which allows them to move within Israel proper. However should they move out of Israel proper (e.g. into the Palestinian territories), this status will be lost and they will not be able to return. Since many have extended families in the West Bank, only miles away, this often implies enormous hassles. By Israel's Citizenship Law, they are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which they can receive automatically or almost automatically, provided that they do not have any other citizenship. Thus, many Palestinians who would like to hold their Jordanian passports have to retain the status of permanent residents. Some Palestinians decline to accept citizenship since they consider it equivalent to accepting Israel's annexation.

Another issue is the status of family members not recorded in the census preceding the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem. They must apply for entry into East Jerusalem for family reunification with the Ministry of the Interior. Palestinians complain that such applications have been arbitrarily denied for purposes of limiting the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, while Israeli authorities claim they treat Palestinians fairly. These and other aspects have been a source of criticism from Palestinians and Israeli human rights organizations, such as B'Tselem.

Status as Israel's capital

The modern Knesset building, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem today

In 1980, the Israeli Knesset confirmed Jerusalem's status as the nation's "eternal and indivisible capital", by passing the Basic Law: Jerusalem — Capital of Israel.

As of 2004, only two states, Costa Rica and El Salvador, have their embassies in Jerusalem (since 1984), but the Consulate General of Greece as well as that of the United Kingdom and the United States is based there. Additionally, Bolivia and Paraguay have their embassies in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem.

All the branches of Israeli government (Presidential, Legislative, Judicial, and Administrative) are seated in Jerusalem. The Knesset building is well known in Jerusalem.

Palestinian aspirations

Palestinian groups claim either all of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) or East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

UN position

The position of the United Nations on the question of Jerusalem is contained in General Assembly resolution 181(11) and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council concerning this question.

The UN Security Council, in UN Resolution 478, declared that the 1980 Jerusalem Law declaring Jerusalem as Israel's "eternal and indivisible" capital was "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith" (14-0-1, US abstaining). The resolution instructed member states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city as a punitive measure.

Before this resolution, thirteen countries had their embassies in Jerusalem: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela. Following the UN resolution, all thirteen moved their embassies to Tel Aviv. Costa Rica and El Salvador moved back to Jerusalem in 1984.

United States position

The United States Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by congress in 1995, states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999". Since then, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv is being suspended by the President semi-annually, each time stating that "[the] Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem". As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003 states:

"The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President [...] to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem". [3] (http://www.mideastweb.org/jeruembassy2002.htm)


  Results from FactBites:
Jerusalem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (9309 words)
Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a feudal state, of which the King of Jerusalem was the chief.
Jerusalem became the capital of a 'Latin Kingdom' with a Latin church and a Latin Patriarch, all under the authority of the Pope.
Jerusalem is situated in 31° 46′ 45″ N, 35° 13′ 25″ E, upon the southern spur of a plateau the eastern side of which slopes from 2,460 ft. above sea-level north of the Temple area to 2,130 ft. at the southeastern extremity.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m