An ancient city of Palestine. From 1949 to 1967 it was divided between Israel (most of the New City), of which it is the capital, and Jordan (largely the Old City). In 1967 Israel occupied the Jor¬danian sector and declared the entire city one municipal¬ity under Israeli administration. A holy city for three major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—Jerusalem is situated on the Judean Plateau at an elevation of 2,460 feet (740 meters); it lies 36 miles (58 km) east of the Mediter¬ranean Sea and 19 miles (30 km) west of the Dead Sea.
Topography. The site of ancient Jerusalem in the cen¬ter of the Judean Plateau, which is largely a hard limestone formation, is delimited by natural valleys on the west, south, and east. The valley that curves around the plateau on the west and south is the Valley of Hinnom. The valley on the east is known under its ancient name, the Valley of the Kidron. There is another smaller valley that runs parallel to the Kidron Valley. This has been filled throughout the cen¬turies with much debris, but in ancient times it provided a much sharper line of demarcation between the eastern and western parts of the city. Now known simply as the valley, el-Wad, it formerly bore the picturesque designation Valley of the Cheesemakers, or Tyropoeon.
Before aqueducts were built, two springs provided water. One was just below the meeting place of the Kidron and Hinnom valleys, now called Bir Aiyub, and was the ancient En-rogel. The other spring, Ain Sitti Maryam, is at the foot of the eastern hill on the edge of the Valley of the Kidron. It was the Gihon spring of ancient times.
Climate. Jerusalem shares with other parts of Israel and Jordan a year that is divided into two seasons, a rainy season in the winter and a dry season in the summer. Because of its high elevation, however, the extremes are greater and the changes more sudden at Jerusalem than in many other parts of the land. The rains begin to fall in October or November and continue through March and April. During these seven months the city receives al¬most all of its precipitation, which averages about 22 inches (560 mm) annually. From May through September there is little or no rain. In January, the coldest month, the temperature averages about 45°F. (7°C); and in July, the warmest month, it averages 73°F. (23°C).
In the win¬ter temperatures often fall to or below the freezing point, and there is occasionally snow. In the summer the maxi¬mum temperature frequently ranges from 90°F. to ioo°F. (32°C. to 38°C); sometimes reaching ii2°F. (44°C). Con¬sidering the year as a whole, the prevailing wind in Jerusa¬lem is from the northwest, but in the summer the southeast sirocco often blows in from the desert, bringing dry heat. Overall, the climate of Jerusalem is very pleasant.
Jerusalem’s soil is rather thin, with some areas having practically no soil at all, and the natural vegetation is lim¬ited to grass, shrubs, and small bushes and pine trees. During early spring wild flowers bloom, including crocus and iris.