A 3D map of Israel is the best way to understand its topography
A raised-relief map of Israel is an essential tool in order to grasp in an immediate manner most of the facts that characterize this little country. Here are some facts:
Israel is the 100th smallest country in the world, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population. Israel could fit 8 times into Florida. It is slightly larger than Massachusetts. It is 263 miles long – North to South, and between 9 and 71 miles wide (East to West). The Negev desert represents about 60% of Israel's territory. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the Earth's surface: about 411 Meters below sea level. The highest point in Israel is Mount Meron at 1,208 meters (3,963 ft) above sea level, but the Israeli part of Mount Hermon, in the disputed Golan Heights, rises at 2,236 meters (7,336 ft) above sea level.
What is particularly visible on the raised-relief map of Israel is its topography, which is as varied as of an entire continent, ranging north to south from forested highlands and fertile green valleys to the mountainous Negev desert, and west to east from the humid coastal plain to the semitropical Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.
Another special feature that really stands out on the 3D map of Israel is the Syro-African depression forming the Araba, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, Lake Tiberias and the Hula Valley. The map shows clearly that it is not a valley like others, formed by the erosion and a water stream, but a geological phenomenon of a different kind. The high mountains on the Jordan side of the rift are clearly a continuation of the Central Mountain Range of Israel, and the Rift in the middle has been formed by tectonic activity. In fact, the depression is the northern-most part of the African Rift Valley which goes south well into Africa, down to Mozambique and north to Syria and Lebanon. The tectonic activity causes the Jordan side of the valley to move north and east, relatively to the Israeli western side. This could be seen in a much detailed relief map of Israel where the same kind of springs could be found in the two sides of the Valley with a gap of 110 km north-south separating the similar geological formations.
A consequence of the unique geographical position of Israel and its particular topography is the immensely rich bird fauna that can be seen in the Israeli sky. As the map of Israel makes it clear, Israel is situated between the Mediterranean coast in the west and the Syro-African Rift in the east. This makes of the country a major migratory route for birds flying from the northern hemisphere to Africa in autumn and back again in the spring. Thousands of birds making dozens of species can be observed each year, so that Israel has become a major observation and study center for amateurs and ornithologists from around the world.