The Holy Land encompasses parts of the modern countries of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It is bordered by the Euphrates River in the north, the Jordan River in the east, the Gulf of Aqaba in the south and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
The Holy Land was the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, and King David's conquest of Jerusalem in 1000 BC established that city as a religious and political capital of importance. The land fell under the control of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire. Muslim Arabic forces occupied the region after the Byzantine collapse, and then Muslim Turks took it from them. In the 11th century, Christians from Europe attempted to regain control of the Holy Land in the series of wars known as the Crusades. The Christians maintained control until 1290 when the Turks drove them out of the region and re-established control of the region.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the Holy Land was under control of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire went to war on the side of Austria-Hungary in World War I, and the Allies took considerable amounts of land as the Empire collapsed. Britain and France ended up with most of the Holy Land, eventually partitioning it into individual countries between the World Wars. Israel was established in 1948, completing the division of this important region.