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Holy City Residents Share Lengthy, Colorful History

October 25, 1987|From Associated Press

Here are some facts and figures on Jerusalem:

- GEOGRAPHY--Jerusalem is built west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea among the Judean hills at an elevation of 2,500 feet. It is only about a one-hour drive to Amman, Jordan, nearly the same time it takes to travel the 40 miles to the beaches of Tel Aviv.

The area is 27,125 acres, more than twice the pre-1967 city limits that encompassed 9,500 acres when control was divided between Israel and Jordan.

- PEOPLE--Of the city's 475,000 residents, 340,000 are Jews and 135,000 are Arabs--mostly Muslims but including about 14,000 Christians. The population is 80% larger than it was in 1967, and Jerusalem is technically the largest city in Israel, although the Tel Aviv metropolitan area has more than 1.2 million people.

- GOVERNMENT--The city is administered by a mayor, with a 31-seat city council that is elected separately.

As a result of the 1983 elections, Mayor Teddy Kollek's liberal One Jerusalem party controls 17 seats, with 14 seats held by half a dozen right-wing and religious parties. The next election is scheduled for 1988.

Palestinian Arabs, most of whom hold Jordanian citizenship, are eligible to vote but have traditionally boycotted the elections to avoid implicit recognition of Israel's claim to sovereignty. In 1983, only 12,000 of the 65,000 qualified Arab voters cast ballots.

- HISTORY--Archeological evidence indicates that the city was settled as far back as the 4th millennium BC. Canaanites built a walled city about 2000 BC, and it was conquered by the Hebrew King David in 1000 BC.

King Solomon built the ancient Jewish Temple that was ultimately destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.

Jerusalem flourished under Byzantine sovereignty and Christianity was officially tolerated. Muslims captured the city in AD 637, and Christian Crusaders established the city as capital of the Latin Kingdom in AD 1099.

Muslims recaptured the city in AD 1187, and it was later ruled by the Ottomans until the British seized Palestine from Turkey in 1917.

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