Judea is a mountainous region, part of which is considered to be a desert. It varies greatly in height, rising to an altitude of 1,020 m (3,346 ft) in the south at Mount Hebron, 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Jerusalem, and descending to as much as 400 m (1,312 ft) below sea level in the east of the region. It also varies in rainfall, starting with about 400-500mm in the western hills, rising to 600mm around western Jerusalem (in central Judea), falling back to 400mm in eastern Jerusalem and dropping to around 100mm in the eastern parts, due to a rainshadow effect (this is the Judean desert).
Judea or Judæa (Hebrew: יהודה, Standard Yəhuda Tiberian Yəhûḏāh, „praised, celebrated”; Greek: Ιουδαία, Ioudaía; Latin: Iudaea) is the name given to the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael), an area now divided between Israel and the West Bank (itself partly under Palestinian Authority administration and Israeli military rule).
The name Judea is a Greek and Roman adaptation of the name „Judah”, which originally
encompassed the territory of the Israelite tribe of that name and later of the ancient Kingdom of Judah. The area was the site of the Hasmonean Kingdom and the later Kingdom of Judah, a client kingdom of the Roman Empire. In modern times, Jordan renamed Judea and Samaria the West Bank. The name „Yehudah” may be used by Hebrew speakers to refer to a large southern section of Israel and the occupied territories (disputed by Israel).
Human settlement in Judea stretches back to the Stone Age and the region is believed by paleoanthropologists to have been one of the routes through which Homo sapiens travelled out of Africa to colonise the rest of the world around 100,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence of human settlement dates back 11,000 years in the case of the city of Jericho, believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world. In historic times, the region was inhabited by a number of peoples, most famously the Israelites. Judea is central to much of the narrative of the Torah, with the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob said to have been buried at Hebron in the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
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