Tel Aviv is Israel’s defacto capital, a vibrant metropolis of just under 400,000 (2010), a coastal city with many cafes and restaurants, beaches, museums and modern theaters complementing many old neighborhoods. Israeli law claims Jerusalem as its capital, but the United Nation’s famous Resolution #478 resulted in no foreign nations — including the United States — recognizing Jerusalem as such. As Israel’s biggest and most industrious metropolis, Tel Aviv has become its government center.
Founded in 1909 by a group of Jews leaving their cramped quarters in Jaffa, the name means “Hill of Spring” which is a tribute to the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzle, whose utopian book bears that title.
Following World War I, when Britain declared its intention to help establish Palestine as a home for the Jewish people, waves of immigrants arrived, including poets, writers and artists who transformed Tel Aviv into the first modern Hebrew city. Because of its location in the center of the fertile coastal plain and proximity to a port, it quickly became the business and financial center of the country.