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Syria / Geography /
Syrian territory, now under Israeli occupation, of about 1,250 kmē.
The Golan Heights rises up from the Sea of Galilee. Photo: David Lisbona.
The largest settlement of the Golan Heights, the village of Majdal Shams, mainly inhabited by the Druze. Photo: Dunia Ata-Many.
The Golan Heights are situated to the east of the Jordan River. Today the population of the Golan Heights is principally Jewish Israeli, after large numbers of locals fled the area in 1973. More than 100,000 locals fled to Syria (80,000) and Lebanon (20,000). The number of Jews moving into the Golan Heights is around 75,000 settlers who live in more than 30 Jewish-only settlements, illegal by international law. Altogether, the number of inhabitants today must exceed 200,000.
Golan Heights has been annexed by Israel, and is under Israeli law, but this is not internationally recognized.
1948: The Golan Heights becomes strategically important, as it is used as a base for artillery attacks on Israel, mostly during wars.
1967: The Golan Heights are occupied by Israel early in the Six-Day War.
1973: For a couple of days during the Yom Kippur War, the Golan Heights are recaptured by Syria.
1975: Syria gets an area around the town of Qunaytirah, as a result of US-led talks after the Yom Kippur War.
1981: The Golan Heights is officially annexed by Menachim Begin's government. The area is placed under Israeli law, and settlements are established. The annexation is not recognized by the international community.