Basic information about Israel and its people:






Israel in Brief:


Israel is a land and a people. The history of the Jewish people, and of its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. In this land, its cultural, national and religious identity was formed; here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile, With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.



Long and narrow in shape, the country is about 470 km. in length and 135 km in width at its widest point.

Although small in size, Israel encompasses the varied topographical features of an entire continent, ranging from forested highlands and fertile green valleys to mountainous deserts and from the coastal plain to the semitropical Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Approximately half of the country's land area is semi-arid.




A positive upsurge in Israel's economic activity - led by a remarkable 6.4% growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - was last registered in the year 2000. Deteriorating security circumstances have since been the chief cause of a distinct slow-down in almost all branches of economic activity. For the first time in close to five decades, the GDP actually decreased in 2001: its real growth being -0.6% took the country far away from its heyday (in the first half of the 1990s), when it was listed as enjoying the fastest GDP-growth-rate among world economies. Israel's per capita GDP ($US 18,400 in 2000 which placed it 22nd in the world) has fallen to $US 17,300 in 2001.

In the years 2003-2007 the Israeli economy was growing in a remarkable 5% growth rate of the GDP (in 2008 the estimation is 4.2% growth). Israel’s per capita GDP has grown to 22,520$ US.

With a population of 7 million, Israel has been internationally acclaimed throughout the years, in particular for its extraordinary achievements in agriculture, irrigation, and various high-tech industries and electronic start-ups. Free trade agreements with Europe (EU and EFTA) and the United States during the past two decades facilitated Israel's expanding exports of goods and services as well as its participation in international business enterprises (which contributed to the country's accelerated growth during most of the 1990s).


$172 bilion
($22,520 per capita)

Exports, goods and services

$33.7 billion

Imports, goods and services

$40.5 billion



Israel's climate is characterized by much sunshine, with a rainy season from November to April. Total annual precipitation ranges from 20-30 inches (50-70 cm) in the north to less than an inch (2.5 cm) in the far south. Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters, with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south.









deg C









Israel is a country of immigrants. Since its inception in 1948, Israel's population has grown seven-fold. Its 7.28 million inhabitants comprise a mosaic of people with varied ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, cultures and traditions. Today Jews comprise 76% of the country's population, while the country's non-Jewish citizens, mostly Arabs, number about 24%. Israel is home to a widely diverse population from many ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds. A new society with ancient roots, it is still coalescing and evolving today. Of its 7.28 million people, 76 percent are Jews, 20 percent are Arabs (mostly Muslim) and the remaining 4 percent comprise Druze, Circassians and others not classified by religion. The society is relatively young and characterized by social and religious commitment, political ideology, economic resourcefulness and cultural creativity, all of which contributes momentum to its continuing development.



About 91% of Israel's inhabitants live in some 200 urban centers, some of which are located on ancient historical sites. About 5% are members of unique rural cooperative settlements - the kibbutz and the moshav:

Urban Life: About 91 percent of Israelis live in urban areas. Many modern towns and cities, blending the old and the new, are built on sites known since antiquity, among them Jerusalem, Safed, Be'er Sheva, Tiberias and Akko. Others such as Rehovot, Hadera, Petah Tikva and Rishon Lezion began as agricultural villages in the pre-state era and gradually evolved into major population centers.

Rural life: About 9 percent of Israel's population lives in rural areas, in villages and two unique cooperative frameworks, the kibbutz and moshav, which were developed in the country in the early part of the 20th century.

Villages: of various sizes are inhabited mainly by Arabs and Druze, who comprise 1.2 percent of Israel's population. Land and houses are privately owned, and farmers cultivate and market their crops on an individual basis. A minority within the Arab sector, traditionally nomadic Bedouin Arabs (estimated at 170,000 people) are currently undergoing an urbanization process, reflecting the transition from a traditional society to a settled, modern lifestyle.

The kibbutz is a self-contained social and economic unit in which decisions are taken by its members, and property and means of production are communally owned. Today 1.8 percent of the population lives in 268 kibbutzim. Members are assigned work in different branches of the kibbutz economy: traditionally the backbone of Israel's agriculture, kibbutzim are now increasingly engaged in industry, tourism and services.


Main Cities:

Jerusalem, Israel's capital (population 733,000), has stood at the center of the Jewish people's national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdom some 3000 years ago. Today it is a flourishing, vibrant metropolis, the seat of the government and Israel's largest city.

Tel Aviv (population 384,000), which was founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in modem times, is today the center of the country's industrial, commercial, financial and cultural life.

Haifa (population 266,000), a known coastal town since ancient times, is a major Mediterranean port and the industrial and commercial center of northern Israel.

Be'er Sheva (population 185,000), named in the Bible as an encampment of the patriarchs, is today the largest urban center in the south. It provides administrative, economic, health, education and cultural services for the entire southern region.


Thousands of years of history, the ingathering of the Jews from over 70 countries, a society of multi-ethnic communities living side by side, and an unending flow of international input via satellite and cable have contributed to the development of an Israeli culture which reflects worldwide elements while striving for an identity of its own. Cultural expression through the arts is as varied as the people themselves, with literature, theater, concerts, radio and television programming, entertainment, museums and galleries for every interest and taste.

The official languages of the country are Hebrew and Arabic. Most street signs and road signs and also products’ labels are also in English and an English speaker tourist will have no difficulty to communicate and find his needs. In the country's streets many other languages can be heard such as, Russian, Yiddish, French, Ethiopian, Thai, Persian, etc.