For the 400,000 residents of Tel Aviv, Israel's very own Sin City, priorities include basking in the sun, finding the best espresso, and partying all night long. It's that very laid-back lifestyle that helped draw more than 3.3 million visitors in 2014. Read on for more facts about the city by the sea.
1. Founded in April 1909, Tel Aviv was the first modern Hebrew city. The area, once a large expanse of sand dunes, was originally called Ahuzat Bayit. A year later, the name was changed to Tel Aviv, meaning "Spring Mound."
Auction of Tel Aviv's first lots, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
In 1949, David Ben-Gurion, who became the country's first Prime Minister, declared Israel's independence inside Tel Aviv's Independence Hall. At the time, Jordan controlled Jerusalem, so Tel Aviv served as the political capital until 1967.
3. Rainy days won't bring down city dwellers: Tel Aviv enjoys 300 annuals days of sunshine.
4. … Which means residents and tourists alike spend plenty of time outdoors. There are 13 official beaches over 8.7 miles. Each year, 8.5 million bathers come out to soak up the sun. Those not in the mood to splash in the water challenge friends to a game of Matkot, the Israeli version of raquetball, usually played on the sand or concrete.
5. National Geographic has deemed Tel Aviv the ninth best beach city in the world.
8. Tel Aviv is home to more than 100 sushi restaurants. As of 2010, it had the most sushi restaurants per capita after New York City and Tokyo.
9. That's not the city's only claim to food fame. The Italian government awarded Tel Aviv's Pronto the title of "Best Italian Restaurant Outside of Italy."
12. Often referred to as the Miami of the Middle East, Tel Aviv has been named one of the world's top party cities. Because Shabbat is observed on Friday, Thursday nights draw the biggest crowd, with revelers raging until dawn. Not surprisingly, it's also been called the city that never sleeps.
13. Another, more controversial nickname: "The Bubble," which references residents' largely secular approach to life, as well as how easy it is to forget about the political reality outside the city's borders.
14. Residents work as hard as they play. Tel Aviv University is the country's largest university and is ranked among the world's top 100 universities. Recently, researchers at the university developed a therapy that may treat mantle cell lymphoma, the most aggressive form of blood cancer.
Known as one of the world's most innovative cities, its startup scene is rivaled only by California's Silicon Valley. The city is home to more than 1500 companies(mostly tech) that employ 43,000 workers.
16. To help attract international startups, Tel Aviv offers incentive packages to entrepreneurs abroad. This includes temporary accommodation and workspace, as well as consulting and legal advice.
17. Thanks to young entrepreneurs and their startup fortunes, the city's property prices have increased by 84 percent since 2008.
18. In December, the $776 million Meier-on-Rothschild Tower complex opened. At 510 feet, it's Tel Aviv's tallest building. The 141 apartments range from $3 million to a $44.2 million, 15,263-square-foot penthouse with eight (!) bedrooms.
19. Tel Aviv's most impressive pieces of architecture are its 4000 Bauhaus buildings, known as the White City. Named a World Heritage Site, the white concrete structures are perched on leg-like pillars and have flat roofs.
In 2013, the mayor allocated $100,000, about a third of the city's total tourism budget, on a campaign to attract more gay tourists.
21. Now, the city hosts the largest Gay Pride parade in Asia and the Middle East. In June 2015, 180,000 people came out to celebrate, 30,000 of whom were tourists.
23. Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, is the biggest in the world specializing in the history of Judaism and the Jewish diaspora.
24. For 29 years, Tel Aviv's Nahalt Binyamin street has hosted an Arts & Crafts fair twice a week. Roughly 220 artists exhibit and sell their work, which includes glass dinnerware, jewelry and door signs.
25. Tel Aviv is home to the country's largest sports club, the Maccabi Football Club, which holds more titles than any other in Israel. Their biggest competitor: Hapoel Tel-Aviv, also located in the city.