Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel and the third largest city in the country. Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa has a history dating back to Biblical times. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BCE). In the 3rd century CE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands: It has been conquered and ruled by the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Egyptians, and the British. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality.
Today, the city is a major seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa covering 63.7 square kilometres (24.6 sq mi). It is located about 90 kilometers(56 mi) north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, and the city plays an important role in Israel's economy. It has several high-tech parks, among them the oldest and largest in the country, an industrial port, and a petroleum refinery.
Located on the northern slopes of Mount Carmel and around Haifa Bay, the city is split over three tiers. The lowest is the center of commerce and industry including the Port of Haifa. The middle level is on the slopes of Mount Carmel and consists of older residential neighborhoods, while the upper level consists of modern neighborhoods looking over the lower tiers. From here views can be had across the Western Galilee region of Israel towards Rosh HaNikra and the Lebanese border.
Haifa today has a population of over 285.000. Eighty percent are defined as Israeli Jews. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union constitute 25% of Haifa's population. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Arab citizens of Israel constitute 9% of Haifa's population. Haifa is commonly portrayed as a model of co-existence between Arabs and Jews in Israel, although tensions and hostility do sometimes still exist.