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Population8,212,790 For more visit Worldmeters

Official Languages: Hebrew and Arabic

Area: 20,770 km²

Israel , officially the State of Israel is a country in the Middle East, on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel’s financial center and technology hub is Tel Aviv. Jerusalem is the proclaimed capital, although Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally unrecognized. On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. This specified borders for new Arab and Jewish states and an area of Jerusalem which was to be administered by the UN under an international regime. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day, David Ben-Gurion, the executive head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel”, which would start to function from the termination of the mandate. The borders of the new state were not specified in the declaration.  Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former British mandate on the next day and fought the Israeli forces. Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (1956–57, 1967–82), part of Southern Lebanon (1982–2000), Gaza Strip (1967–2005; still considered occupied after 2005 disengagement) and the Golan Heights. It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been signed. Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the world’s longest military occupation in modern times. The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2016 to be 8,541,000 people. It is the world’s only Jewish-majority state, with 6,388,800 citizens, or 74.8%, being designated as Jewish. The country’s second largest group of citizens are Arabs, numbering 1,775,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are Sunni Muslims, including significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Arameans, Assyrians, Samaritans, Armenians,Circassians, Dom people, Maronites and Vietnamese. The Black Hebrew Israelites are subject to a slow process of deeper integration, but are still in their majority permanent residents rather than citizens. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia, including illegal migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and other Sub-Saharan Africans. In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system,proportional representation and universal suffrage.  The prime minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member,  with the 35th-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2015. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with the one of the highest percentage of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fourth highest in Asia, and has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

Currency: Israeli new shekel

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Cuisine

Israeli cuisine includes local dishes as well as dishes brought to the country by Jewish immigrants from the diaspora. Since the establishment of the State in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s, an Israeli fusion cuisine has developed.  Roughly half of the Israeli-Jewish population attests to keeping kosherat home. Kosher restaurants, though rare in the 1960s, make up around 25% of the total as of 2015, perhaps reflecting the largely secular values of those who dine out. Hotel restaurants are much more likely to serve kosher food. The non-kosher retail market was traditionally sparse, but grew rapidly and considerably following the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia during the 1990s.  Together with non-kosher fish, rabbits and ostriches, pork—often called “white meat” in Israel is produced and consumed, though it is forbidden by both Judaism and Islam. Israeli cuisine has adopted, and continues to adapt, elements of various styles of Jewish cuisine, particularly the Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi styles of cooking, along with Moroccan Jewish, Iraqi Jewish, Ethiopian Jewish, Indian Jewish, Iranian Jewish andYemeni Jewish influences. It incorporates many foods traditionally eaten in the Arab,Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka,couscous, and za’atar, which have become common ingredients in Israeli cuisine.Schnitzel, pizza, hamburgers, French fries, rice and salad are also very common in Israel.

 
 

 

Culture


Israel’s diverse culture stems from the diversity of its population: Jews from diaspora communities around the world have brought their cultural and religious traditions back with them, creating a melting pot of Jewish customs and beliefs. Israel is the only country in the world where life revolves around the Hebrew calendar. Work and school holidays are determined by the Jewish holidays, and the official day of rest is Saturday, the Jewish SabbathIsrael’s substantial Arab minority has also left its imprint on Israeli culture in such spheres as architecture, music, and cuisine.

 

 

Economy


The economy of Israel is technologically advanced by global standards.  As of 2015, Israel ranks in the top 18 nations in the world on the UN’s Human Development Index, which places it in the category of “Very Highly Developed” — the highest ranked in the Middle East, and even surpassing European countries such as Austria, France and Finland. The major industrial sectors include high-technology products, metal products, electronic and biomedical equipment, agricultural products, processed foods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and transport equipment; the Israeli diamond industry is one of the world’s centers for diamond cutting and polishing. Relatively poor in natural resources, Israel depends on imports of petroleum, raw materials, wheat, motor vehicles, uncut diamonds and production inputs, though the country’s nearly total reliance on energy imports may change with recent discoveries of large natural gas reserves off its coast on the one hand and the leading role of the Israeli solar energy industry on the other.  Israel is active in software, telecommunication and semiconductors development.Israel’s quality university education and the establishment of a highly motivated and educated populace is largely responsible for ushering in the country’s high technology boom and rapid economic development. With its strong educational infrastructure and high quality incubation systems for new ideas boasts a high concentration of high-tech industries in Israel, which are backed by a strong venture capital industry, gave it the nickname “Silicon Wadi”, which is considered second in importance only to its Californian counterpart. Numerous Israeli companies have been acquired by global corporations for their reliable and quality corporate personnel. The country was the destination for Berkshire Hathaway’s first investment outside the United States when it purchased ISCAR Metalworking, and the first research and development centers outside the United States for companies including Intel, Microsoft, and Apple. American business magnates and investors Bill Gates, Warren Buffett,Donald Trump as well as Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim have each praised Israel’s economy and each entrepreneur has invested heavily in numerous Israeli industries that include real estate, high technology, and manufacturing beyond their traditional business activities and investments back in their home nations. Israel is also a major tourist destination, with 3.54 million foreign tourists visiting it in 2013. In September 2010, Israel was invited to join the OECD.  Israel has also signed free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, and on 18 December 2007, became the first non-Latin-American country to sign a free trade agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc.

 

 

Government

The Government of Israel (officially: Hebrew: ממשלת ישראל‎‎ Memshelet Yisrael) exercises executive authority in the State of Israel. It consists of ministers who are chosen and led by the prime minister. In choosing ministers, the prime minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during parliamentary elections, and the composition of the government must be approved by a vote of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). Under Israeli law, the prime minister may dismiss members of the government, but must do so in writing, and new appointees must be approved by the Knesset. Most ministers lead ministries, though some are ministers without portfolio. Most ministers are members of the Knesset, though only the Prime Minister and the “designated acting prime minister” are actually required to be Knesset members. Some ministers are also called deputy and vice prime ministers. Unlike the designated acting prime minister, these roles have no statutory meanings. The government operates in accordance with the Basic Law. It meets on Sundays weekly in Jerusalem. There may be additional meetings if circumstances require it. The prime minister convenes these meetings.

 

 

Health

Health care in Israel is universal and participation in a medical insurance plan is compulsory. All Israeli citizens are entitled to basic health care as a fundamental right. The Israeli healthcare system is based on the National Health Insurance Law of 1995, which mandates all citizens resident in the country to join one of four official health insurance organizations which are run as not-for-profit organizations, and are prohibited by law from denying any Israeli citizen membership. Israelis can increase their medical coverage and improve their options by purchasing private health insurance. In a survey of 48 countries in 2013, Israel’s health system was ranked fourth in the world in terms of efficiency, and in 2014 it ranked seventh out of 51. In 2015, Israel was ranked sixth-healthiest country in the world by Bloomberg rankings and ranked eigth in terms of life expectancy.

 

 

Language

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Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken every day by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools.English was an official language during the Mandate period; it lost this status after the creation of Israel, but retains a role comparable to that of an official language, as may be seen in road signs and official documents. Many Israelis communicate reasonably well in English, as many television programs are broadcast in English with subtitles and the language is taught from the early grades in elementary school. In addition, Israeli universities offer courses in the English language on various subjects.  As a country of immigrants, many languages can be heard on the streets. Due to mass immigration from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia (some 130,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel), Russian and Amharic are widely spoken. More than one million Russian-speaking immigrants arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union states between 1990 and 2004. French is spoken by around 700,000 Israelis, mostly originating from France and North Africa (see Maghrebi Jews).

 
 

Legal system

Supreme Court of Israel, Givat Ram, Jerusalem Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country. Above them are district courts, serving as both appellate courts and courts of first instance; they are situated in five of Israel’s six districts. The third and highest tier is the Supreme Court, located in Jerusalem; it serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against the decisions of state authorities.[353][354] Although Israel supports the goals of the International Criminal Court, it has not ratified the Rome Statute, citing concerns about the ability of the court to remain free from political impartiality. Israel’s legal system combines three legal traditions: English common law, civil law, and Jewish law. It is based on the principle of stare decisis (precedent) and is an adversarial system, where the parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are decided by professional judges rather than juries. Marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian. The election of judges is carried out by a committee of two Knesset members, three Supreme Court justices, two Israeli Bar members and two ministers (one of which, Israel’s justice minister, is the committee’s chairman). The committee’s members of the Knesset are secretly elected by the Knesset, and one of them is traditionally a member of the opposition, the committee’s Supreme Court justices are chosen by tradition from all Supreme Court justices by seniority, the Israeli Bar members are elected by the bar, and the second minister is appointed by the Israeli cabinet. The current justice minister and committee’s chairwoman is Ayelet Shaked. Administration of Israel’s courts (both the “General” courts and the Labor Courts) is carried by the Administration of Courts, situated in Jerusalem. Both General and Labor courts are paperless courts: the storage of court files, as well as court decisions, are conducted electronically. Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties in Israel.

 

 

Religion

The Dome of the Rock and theWestern Wall, Jerusalem. Israel comprises a major part of the Holy Land, a region of significant importance to all Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Bahá’í Faith. The religious affiliation of Israeli Jews varies widely: a social survey for those over the age of 20 indicates that 55% say they are “traditional”, while 20% consider themselves “secular Jews”, 17% define themselves as “Religious Zionists”; 8% define themselves as “Haredi Jews”. Haredi Jews are expected to represent more than 20% of Israel’s Jewish population by 2028. 9th Station of the Crosson the Via Dolorosa street in Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the background is venerated by Christians as the site of the Burial of Jesus. Making up 16% of the population, Muslims constitute Israel’s largest religious minority. About 2% of the population is Christian and 1.5% is Druze. The Christian population primarily comprises Arab Christians, but also includes post-Soviet immigrants, the foreign laborers of multinational origins, and followers ofMessianic Judaism, considered by most Christians and Jews to be a form of Christianity.  Members of many other religious groups, including Buddhists and Hindus, maintain a presence in Israel, albeit in small numbers. Out of more than one million immigrants from the formerSoviet Union in Israel, about 300,000 are considered not Jewish by the Orthodox rabbinate. The city of Jerusalem is of special importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians as it is the home of sites that are pivotal to their religious beliefs, such as the Old City that incorporates the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Other locations of religious importance in Israel are Nazareth (holy in Christianity as the site of the Annunciation of Mary), Tiberiasand Safed (two of the Four Holy Cities in Judaism), the White Mosque in Ramla (holy in Islam as the shrine of the prophet Saleh), and the Church of Saint George in Lod (holy in Christianity and Islam as the tomb of Saint George or Al Khidr). A number of other religious landmarks are located in the West Bank, among them Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the birthplace of Jesus and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The administrative center of the Bahá’í Faith and the Shrine of the Báb are located at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa; the leader of the faith is buried in Acre. Apart from maintenance staff, there is no Bahá’í community in Israel, although it is a destination for pilgrimages. Bahá’í staff in Israel do not teach their faith to Israelis following strict policy. A few miles south of the Bahá’í World Centre is the Middle East centre of the reformist Ahmadiyya movement. Its mixed neighbourhood of Jews and Ahmadi Arabs is the only one of its kind in the country.

 
 

 

Politics

The Knesset chamber, home to the Israeli parliament Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic with universal suffrage. A member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime minister—usually this is the chair of the largest party. The prime minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is based onproportional representation of political parties, with a 3.25% electoral threshold, which in practice has resulted in coalition governments. Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset can dissolve a government earlier. The Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws. The president of Israel is head of state, with limited and largely ceremonial duties. Israel has no official religion,but the definition of the state as “Jewish and democratic” creates a strong connection with Judaism, as well as a conflict between state law and religious law. Interaction between the political parties keeps the balance between state and religion largely as it existed during the British Mandate.

 
 

Sports

 

Sport is considered a national pastime in Sweden, and about half of the population actively takes part in sports activities. The most important all-embracing organisations for sports in Sweden are the Swedish Sports Confederation, and the Swedish Olympic Committee. In total over 2 million people (about 20% of the total population) are members of a sports club. The sports with most participants are football, equestrian sports, handball, golf, gymnastics and athletics, while the sports with the largest number of television spectators are football, ice hockey, handball, bandy, golf, motor sport (especially speedway) and athletics. Ice hockey and football are the main sports. Winter sports are also popular, both in the number of participants and in spectators, while floorball gained large popularity in the 1990s amongst participants, spectators really grew in the last 5 years to outnumber other team sports among’st the spectators. Other popular sports include bandy, basketball, orienteering, tennis and table tennis. Except for basketball, the American sports have not gained much popularity, although American football and baseball are practiced. Popular recreational sports and activities include br?nnboll (popular in schools), boule, kubb, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, walking, running, cycling, dancing, singing and hunting.

Tourism

 

Tourism in Israel is one of Israel’s major sources of income, with a record 3.54 million tourist arrivals in 2013. Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism and ecotourism. Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. In 2009, the two most visited sites were the Western Wall and the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai the most popular paid tourist attraction is Masada. The most visited city is Jerusalem and the most visited site was the Western Wall. The largest percentage of tourists come from the United States accounting for 18% of all tourists, followed by Russia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Canada, Netherlands, and Spain.

 

 

 

Transport


Israel has 18,096 kilometers (11,244 mi) of paved roads, and 2.4 million motor vehicles. The number of motor vehicles per 1,000 persons was 324, relatively low with respect to developed countries. Israel has 5,715 buses on scheduled routes, operated by several carriers, the largest of which is Egged, serving most of the country. Railways stretch across 949 kilometers (590 mi) and are operated solely by government-owned Israel Railways (All figures are for 2008). Following major investments beginning in the early to mid-1990s, the number of train passengers per year has grown from 2.5 million in 1990, to 35 million in 2008; railways are also used to transport 6.8 million tons of cargo, per year. Israel is served by two international airports, Ben Gurion International Airport, the country’s main hub for international air travel near Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ovda Airport in the south, as well as several small domestic airports. Ben Gurion, Israel’s largest airport, handled over 12.1 million passengers in 2010. On the Mediterranean coast, Haifa Port is the country’s oldest and largest port, while Ashdod Port is one of the few deep water ports in the world built on the open sea. In addition to these, the smaller Port of Eilat is situated on the Red Sea, and is used mainly for trading with Far East countries.

 

 

Weather

Temperatures in Israel vary widely, especially during the winter. Coastal areas, such as those of Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev has a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters and fewer rainy days than the Mediterranean climate. The Southern Negev and the Arava areas have desert climate with very hot and dry summers, and mild winters with few days of rain. The highest temperature in the continent of Asia (54.0 °C or 129.2 °F) was recorded in 1942 at Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan river valley. At the other extreme mountainous regions can be windy, cold, and areas at elevation of 750 meters or more (same elevation as Jerusalem) will usually receive at least one snowfall each year. From May to September, rain in Israel is rare. With scarce water resources, Israel has developed various water-saving technologies, including drip irrigation.  Israelis also take advantage of the considerable sunlight available for solar energy, making Israel the leading nation in solar energy use per capita (practically every house uses solar panels for water heating). Four different phytogeographic regions exist in Israel, due to the country’s location between the temperate and the tropical zones, bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east. For this reason the flora and fauna of Israel is extremely diverse. There are 2,867 known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least 253 species are introduced and non-native. There are 380 Israeli nature reserves.

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