Haifa, once a small town of 10,000, is now the third largest city in Israel, with a population of 225,000. It possesses the country’s main port and the nation’s largest heavy industries. It is, at the same time, situated in the most beautiful bay of the Mediterranean coast, and on the slopes of the most charming mountain in Israel – Mt. Carmel. The origin of Haifa is obscure. Its name appears for the first time only in the 3rd century A.D., in Talmudic literature. It is not associated with any major military of historical event.
Haifa, as a small town, was occupied in turn by Crusaders, the Arabs, the Turks, and the British. In 1898, Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionism, visited Haifa and prophesied a future larger city. His praise attracted thousands of early immigrants and Haifa is today one of the most important cities in Israel.
One of the main features of Haifa is that it is the world center of the Bahai faith of some 2,000,000 followers. The Bahai faith began in Persia in 1844. Its leaders were exiled to Acre. They believe int he brotherhood of al men, unity of all religions, a common world language and that all prophets were sent by God to preach the same message, the most recent being Baha Ullah (founder of their faith). They have a shrine in Haifa, which is considered their holy city.