Few cities evoke such strong emotional response from so many people as does Jerusalem. Sacred to at least three major religions, Jerusalem has long been a source and a scene of contention among the adherents of these faiths and their political sponsors. During the past half of the 20th century, each of the three religions, represented by a Christian, a Jewish, and an Islamic polity, has attempted to determine the orientation of development in the city. Each effort has had only limited success. The particular physical characteristics of Jerusalem and the religious aspects of the settlement have produced a unique combination of factors that affect decisions by politicians and planners, regardless of the controlling administration. These conditions are likely to remain influential in the future.