[Image Source: Ori]
Ariel is located approximately 40 kilometers east of Tel Aviv. The name Ariel means the lion of G-d. Ariel is considered the capital of Samaria and is located in the heart of Israel, in the central highland region known as the Samarian Hills.
Ariel is considered a microcosm of Israeli society. The city’s population includes residents from all walks of life. The city has a diverse population: Israelis alongside new immigrants, young families together with pensioners, religious and secular – all find their place in Ariel and there is a keen sense of interaction and harmony, in the many different neighborhoods that make up the city.
Ariel was founded in 1978 on land that was being used for military purposes by the Israel Defense Forces. In the spring of 1978, with the approval and support of the Israeli government, 40 families, led by Ron Nachman, took up residence on top of a rocky and barren hill that would become the city of Ariel.
With the collapse of the former Soviet Union (FSU), the state of Israel received a large influx of new immigrants form the FSU. More than 6,000 new immigrants chose Ariel as their new home in Israel and doubled the city’s population. As a direct result of the growth in population Ariel was declared a city in October 1998 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This growth in population took Ariel to the next step in development of the city with more houses built, more employment available for new immigrants and a boost in the cultural activities in town. Today around 40% of the residents are former new immigrants from the FSU.
The city is also home to the Ariel University, with more than 15,000 students, many of them live in Ariel and are studying for a B.A, M.A or Phd.
Due to its size, Ariel has its own city council. In 2015 it had a population of 18,717, making it one of the largest communities in Samaria. The city is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Ephraim.