Tel Aviv (map) is the second largest city in Israel (after Jerusalem), and the largest metropolitan area. It is on the Mediterranean coast, about 60 km northwest of Jerusalem and 100 km south of *Haifa. The official name is Tel Aviv-Yafo, and reflects the fact that the city has grown beside (and absorbed) the ancient port city of Yafo (map), to the south of the new city center.
Its booming population, energy, edginess and 24-hour lifestyle give the city a cosmopolitan flair comparable to few other cities in this part of the world. Tel Aviv grew mainly from the south to the north, so the further you go to the north the more you will encounter newer buildings and wealthier communities.
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*North Tel Aviv is the wealthiest area of the city (one of the wealthiest areas anywhere in Israel) is north of the Yarkon River. This region is very green, quiet, and suburban compared to the rest of Tel Aviv. The Yarkon Park, Tel Aviv University, and some important museums are here.
*Center (map). This is Tel Aviv as most people know it — containing tourist attractions, hotels, beaches, office buildings, and shopping areas. This district varies from trendy historic neighborhoods in the south to office skyscrapers in the east and from beachfront hotels in the west to the quiet residential “Old North” neighborhoods in the north.
*Jaffa (Yafo in Hebrew, Yaffa in Arabic, map) is one of the world’s oldest ports, archaeological evidence shows signs of human settlement there starting in roughly 7,500 BC. Nowadays, Tel Aviv’s Muslim and Christian populations are concentrated in Jaffa. Other than the port, main attractions are the Old City (map) and a flea market (map).
By the time Tel Aviv was founded as a separate city during Ottoman rule of the region, Jaffa had been ruled by the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Phoenicians, Ptolemies, Seleucids, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, the early Islamic caliphates, Crusaders, Ayyubids, and Mamluks.