(Israel Twitter)Haifa, חֵיפָה); is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 265,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher. Together these areas form a contiguous urban area home to nearly 600,000 residents which makes up the inner core of the Haifa metropolitan area. Haifa has a mixed population of Jews and Arabs, although Jews make up to 90% majority. The Arab population is predominantly Christian, whereas 28% of the Jewish population (correct for 2009) is made of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. It is also home to the Bahá'í World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa has a history dating back to Biblical times. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE). In the 3rd century CE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands: It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Hebrews, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality.
The origin of the name "Haifa" is unclear. According to historian Alex Carmel, it may come from the Hebrew verb root חפה (hafa), meaning to cover or shield, i.e. Mount Carmel covers Haifa. Another possible origin is the Hebrew word חוֹף (hof), also meaning beach, or חוֹף יָפֶה (hof yafe), meaning beautiful beach. Some Christians believe that the town was named after the high priest Caiaphas, or Saint Peter (Keiphah in Aramaic)
A small port city known today as Tell Abu Hawam was established Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE) During the 6th century BCE, Greek geographer Scylax told of a city "between the bay and the Promontory of Zeus" (i.e., the Carmel) which may be a reference to Haifa during the Persian period.By Hellenistic times, the city had moved to a new site south of what is now Bat Galim because the port's harbour had become blocked with sand.About the 3rd century CE, the city was first mentioned in Talmudic literature, as a Jewish fishing village and the home of Rabbi Avdimos and other Jewish scholars. A Greek-speaking population living along the coast at this time was engaged in commerce.
Haifa was located near the town of Shikmona, a center for making the traditional Tekhelet dye used in the garments of the high priests in the Temple. The archaeological site of Shikmona is southwest of Bat Galim. Mount Carmel and the Kishon River are also mentioned in the Bible. A grotto on the top of Mount Carmel is known as the "Cave of Elijah", traditionally linked to the Prophet Elijah and his apprentice, Elisha. In Arabic, the highest peak of the Carmel range is called the Muhraka, or "place of burning," harking back to the burnt offerings and sacrifices there in Canaanite and early Israelite times.
Haifa was captured from the Ottomans in September 1918 by Indian horsemen serving in the British Army after overrunning Turkish positions armed with spears and swords. On September 22, British troops were heading to Nazareth when a reconnaissance report was received indicating that the Turks were leaving Haifa. The British made preparations to enter the city and came under fire in the Balad al-Sheikh district (today Nesher). After the British regrouped, an elite unit of Indian horsemen were sent to attack the Turkish positions on the flanks and overrun their artillery guns on Mount Carmel.
Under the British Mandate, Haifa became an industrial port city. The Hejaz railway and the Technion were built at this time. Haifa District was then home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants, 96 percent of them Arabs (82 percent Muslim and 14 percent Christian), and four percent Jews. Over the next few decades the number of Jews increased steadily, due to immigration, especially from Europe. By 1945 the population had shifted to 53 percent Arab (33 percent Muslim, 20 percent Christian) and 47 percent Jewish. In 1947 about 70,910 Arabs (41,000 Muslims, 29,910 Christians) and 74,230 Jews were living there. The Christian community were mostly Greek-Melkite Catholics.
Haifa today has a population of 266,300. 90% are defined as Israeli Jews. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union constitute 25% of Haifa's population. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Arab citizens of Israel constitute 9% of Haifa's population, the majority living in Wadi Nisnas, Abbas and Halissa neighborhoods.
Haifa is commonly portrayed as a model of co-existence between Arabs and Jews in Israel, although tensions and hostility do still exist.Several Palestinian organizations have been established to fight perceived discrimination in the allocation of resources, to protest the displacement of the Haifa Arabs whose homes were occupied by Jews, and to halt the destruction of Arab cultural property in the Haifa region.
Religious and ethnic communities
The population of Haifa today is 90% Jewish, 4% Muslim, and 6% Christian Arab. As the Jewish residents age and youth leave the city, the proportion of Christians and Muslims is growing.In 2006, 27% of the Arab population was aged 14 and under, compared to 17% of the Jewish and other population groups. The trend continues in the age 15-29 group, in which 27% of the Arab population is found, and the age 30-44 group (23%). The population of Jews and others in these age groups are 22% and 18% respectively. Nineteen percent of the city's Jewish and other population is between 45 and 59, compared to 14% of the Arab population. This continues with 14% of Jews and others aged 60–74 and 10% over age 75, in comparison to 7% and just 2% respectively in the Arab population.
By national standards, Haifa's Jewish population is relatively secular. In 2006, 2.9% of the Jews in the city were Haredi, compared to 7.5% on a national scale. 66.6% were secular, compared to a national average of 43.7%. A small portion of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union lack official religious-ethnic classification as they are from mixed-marriage families of Jewish origin. In 2008, roughly a quarter of the city's residents were Russian-speaking immigrants.
Flora and fauna
The Carmel Mountain has three main wadis: Lotem, Amik and Si’ach. For the most part these valleys are undeveloped natural corridors that run up through the city from the coast to the top of the mountain. Marked hiking paths traverse these areas and they provide habitat for wildlife such as wild boar, golden jackals, Egyptian mongoose and chameleons.
Haifa has developed in tiers, from the lower to the upper city on the Carmel. The oldest neighborhood in the modern Haifa is Wadi Salib, the Old City center near the port, which has been bisected by a major road and razed in part to make way for government buildings. Wadi Salib stretches across to Wadi Nisnas, the center of Arab life in Haifa today. In the 19th century, under Ottoman rule, the German Colony was built, providing the first model of urban planning in Haifa. Some of the buildings have been restored and the colony has turned into a center of Haifa nightlife.
The first buildings in Hadar were constructed at the start of the 20th century. Hadar was Haifa's cultural center and marketplace throughout the 1920s and into the 1980s, nestled above and around the Haifa's Arab neighborhoods. Today Hadar stretches from the port area near the bay, approximately halfway up Mount Carmel, around the German Colony, Wadi Nisnas and Wadi Salib. Hadar houses two commercial centers (one in the port area, and one midway up the mountain) surrounded by some of the city's older neighborhoods.
Neve Sha'anan, a neighborhood located on the second tier of Mount Carmel, was founded in the 1920s. West of the port are the neighborhoods of Bat Galim, Shikmona Beach, and Kiryat Eliezer. To the west and east of Hadar are the Arab neighborhoods of Abbas and Khalisa, built in the 1960s and 70s. To the south of Mount Carmel's headland, along the roa.
The phrase "Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv plays" refers to Haifa's reputation as a city of workers.The industrial region of Haifa is in the eastern part of the city, around the Kishon River. Haifa is home to one of the two oil refineries in Israel (the other located in Ashdod). The Haifa refinery processes 9 million tons (66 million barrels) of crude oil a year. Its twin 80-meter high cooling towers, built in the 1930s, were the tallest buildings built in the British Mandate period.
Matam (short for Merkaz Ta'asiyot Mada - Scientific Industries Center), the largest and oldest business park in Israel, is at the southern entrance to the city, hosting manufacturing and R&D facilities for a large number of Israeli and international hi-tech companies, such as Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Google, Yahoo!, Elbit, Zoran, Philips, and Amdocs. The campus of the University of Haifa is also home to IBM Haifa Labs.
The Port of Haifa is the leader in passenger traffic among Israeli ports, and is also a major cargo harbor, although deregulation has seen its dominance challenged by the port of Ashdod.
Haifa malls and shopping centers include Hutsot Hamifratz, Horev Center Mall, Panorama Center, Castra Center, Colony Center (Lev HaMoshava), Hanevi'im Tower Mall, Kanyon Haifa, Lev Hamifratz Mall and Grand Kanyon.
In 2005, Haifa had 13 hotels with a total of 1,462 rooms.The city has 17 kilometres (11 mi) of beaches, 5 kilometres (3 mi). Haifa's main tourist attraction is the Bahá'í World Centre, with the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb and the surrounding gardens. Between 2005 and 2006, 86,037 visited the shrine. In 2008, the Bahai gardens were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restored German Colony, founded by the Templers, Stella Maris and Elijah's Cave also draw many tourists.
Located in the Haifa district are the Ein Hod artists' colony, where over 90 artists and craftsmen have studios and exhibitions, and the Mount Carmel national park, with caves where Neanderthal and early Homo Sapiens remains were found.
A 2007 report commissioned by the Haifa Municipality calls for the construction of more hotels, a ferry line between Haifa, Acre and Caesarea, development of the western anchorage of the port as a recreation and entertainment area, and an expansion of the local airport and port to accommodate international travel and cruise ships.
Air and sea transport
Haifa Airport serves domestic flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat as well as international charters to Cyprus, and Jordan. There are currently plans to expand services from Haifa. Cruise ships previously operated from Haifa port to Greece and Cyprus.
Travel between Haifa and the center of the country is possible by road with Highway 2, the main highway along the coastal plain, beginning at Tel Aviv and ending at Haifa.Furthermore, Highway 4 runs along the coast to the north of Haifa, as well as south, inland from Highway 2. In the past, traffic travelling along Highway 2 to the north of Haifa would have to pass through the downtown area of the city, however, the Carmel Tunnels, opened for traffic December 1, 2010, now re-route this traffic through tunnels under Mount Carmel, cutting down on congestion in the down-town area of the city.