Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēvˈ) [key], city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest metropolitan area. Tel Aviv is a tourist resort, with hotels and wide beaches. Virtually the entire population is Jewish. Construction is the main industry; textiles, clothing, and processed food are the chief manufactures, and pharmaceuticals, electrical appliances, printed materials, and chemicals are also produced. The city is also an important diamond-processing center.
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 by Jews from Jaffa who wished to build a modern suburb. The population grew dramatically in the late 1920s, again after Hitler came to power (1933) in Germany, and then after World War II. When the state of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, Tel Aviv was briefly the capital; in 1949 the government was transferred to Jerusalem. In 1950, Tel Aviv and Jaffa were merged.
Cultural and educational institutions include the Afro-Asian Institute for Labor Studies and Cooperation, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Habimah (the Israel National Theatre), the Israeli Opera, and Tel Aviv Museum. Tel Aviv Univ. and the Jewish Diaspora Museum are in the suburb of Ramat Aviv. The home of Hayyim Nahman Bialik, the national poet, is preserved as a library and memorial. Many of the Jews from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union who emigrated to Israel after 1989 settled in the metropolitan area, substantially increasing its population. Tel Aviv was the principal target of Iraqi missiles during the Persian Gulf War (1991).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.