Middle East

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Israel is a country in Western Asia located on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are also adjacent. With a population of about 7.28 million, the majority of whom are Jews, Israel is the world’s only Jewish state. It is also home to Arab Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans, as well as other religious and ethnic minority groups.

The modern state of Israel has its roots in the Land of Israel, a concept central to Judaism for over 3000 years. After World War I, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate of Palestine with the intent of creating a “national home for the Jewish people.” In 1947, the United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Arab League rejected the plan, but on May 14, 1948, the Jewish provisional government declared Israel’s independence. The new country’s victory in the subsequent Arab-Israeli War expanded the borders of the Jewish state beyond those in the UN Partition Plan. Since then,Israel has been in conflict with many of the neighboring Arab countries, resulting in several major wars and decades of violence that continue to this day. Since its foundation, Israel’s boundaries and even the State’s very right to exist have been subject to dispute, especially among its Arab neighbors. However, Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and efforts are being made to reach a permanent accord with the Palestinians.

Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel‘s legislative body. In terms of nominal gross domestic product, the nation’s economy is estimated as being the 44th-largest in the world. Israel ranks high among Middle Eastern countries on the bases of human development, freedom of the press, and economic competitiveness. Jerusalem is the country’s capital, seat of government, and largest city, while Israel‘s main financial center is Tel Aviv.

US citizens traveling to the State of Israel are not required to possess a visa but must possess a valid US passport. For detailed information on visa requirements to Israel, follow the link provided below.

Detailed information for travels to Israel

Turkey, known officially as the Republic of Turkey, is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia and Thrace (Rumelia) in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west, Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhichevan), and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea and Archipelago are to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. Separating Anatolia and Thrace are the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish Straits (the Bosporus and the Dardanelles), which are commonly reckoned to delineate the border between Asia and Europe, thereby making Turkey transcontinental.

Due to its strategic location astride two continents, Turkey’s culture has a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition. A powerful regional presence in the Eurasian landmass with strong historic, cultural and economic influence in the area between the European Union in the west and Central Asia in the east, Russia in the north and the Middle East in the south, Turkey has come to acquire increasing strategic significance.

Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic whose political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Since then, Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe (1949), NATO (1952), OECD (1961), OSCE (1973) and the G20 industrial nations (1999). Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the EEC since 1963, and having reached a customs union agreement in 1995. Meanwhile, Turkey has continued to foster close political, economic and industrial relations with the Eastern world, particularly with the states of the Middle East, Central Asia and East Asia.

US citizens who possess a valid US passport must also possess a valid visa to travel toTurkey. Applications for visas generally must be made in person at one of the Turkish Consulates located in the USA. For detailed information regarding visa types and requirements as well as residency requirements, please follow the link provided below.

Detailed information regarding visa and residency requirements to Turkey