Ashdod is the sixth-largest city and the largest port in Israel accounting for 60% of the country's imported goods. Ashdod is located in the Southern District of the country, on the Mediterranean coast where it is situated between Tel Aviv to the north 32 kilometres (20 miles) away, and Ashkelon to the south 20 km (12 mi) away. Jerusalem is 53 km (33 mi) to the east. The city is also an important regional industrial center.
Modern Ashdod covers the territory of two ancient twin towns, one inland and one on the coast, which were for most of their history two separate entities, connected by close ties with each other. This article deals with these historic towns, including other ancient nearby sites, and modern Ashdod.
The first documented urban settlement at Ashdod dates to the Canaanite culture of the 17th century BCE. Ashdod is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. During its pre-1956 history the city was settled by Philistines, Israelites, Greek colonists coming in the wake of Alexander's conquests, Romans and Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks.
Modern Ashdod was established in 1956 on the sand hills near the site of the ancient town, and incorporated as a city in 1968, with a land-area of approximately 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi). Being a planned city, expansion followed a main development plan, which facilitated traffic and prevented air pollution in the residential areas, despite population growth. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Ashdod had a population of 224,628 in 2018, with an area of 47,242 dunams (47.242 km2; 18.240 sq mi).
Ashdod today is home to the largest Moroccan Jewish community in Israel, the largest Karaite Jewish community in Israel, and the largest Georgian Jewish community in the world.