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Bethlehem, West Bank
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    (circa 1150 BC- )
    Located in the West Bank of Palestine
    Population 184,000 (2000 census)
    According to the Bible, the birthplace of Jesus Christ and King David
    Home of the Church of the Nativity and Bethlehem University
    Also known as ‘Ephrath,’ ‘Beth-lehem Ephratah’ and ‘Beth-lehem-judah’
    Its name means ‘House of Meat’ in Arabic.
    Although the majority of its citizens are Muslim, city statutes require that the mayor be a Christian.
    Some scholars believe the Bible is actually referring to a different Bethlehem than the one in Palestine.
    It has been the scene of political trouble since the Second Century A.D.
    It continues to be the site of Israeli/Palestinian conflict and violence.
    To enter the city today, one must get past tough Israeli security.
    One travel writer said it would be a great place to visit, ‘if the depression weren't so contagious and pervasive, and the threat of violence so real.’
    Christians consider it one of the most sacred places on Earth.
    Jews also consider it a holy place, as the home of King David and Rachel, wife of Jacob.
    It generates a lot of tourism money for its residents.
    Travel guides say that its markets are ‘less touristy’ than Jerusalem’s.
    It’s mentioned in hundreds of Christmas carols.

Credit: Wieland Kalligaro

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