Form of Government: Republic
Area: 20 918 sq km
Population: 8 834 700 inhab. (estimate 2018)
Density: 422.35 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 33° - 29° N; long. 34° - 36° E
Capital: Jerusalem=Yerushalayim (capital) 882 700 inhab. (2016); Gerusalemme 1 253 900 inhab. (2016), urban agglomeration
Currency: new Israeli shekel (100 agorot)
Human development index: 0.899 (rank: 19)
President: Reuven Rivlin (Likud), elected 10 June 2014, in office since 24 July 2014
Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), since 31 March 2009
National Assembly (Knesset): seats based on the elections of 17 March 2015: Likud (The Consolidation, right-wing), 30; Zionist Union (centre-left coalition formed by the Labor Party and Hatnuah, "The Movement"), 24; Joint List (coalition of Arab parties), 13; Yesh Atid (There is a Future, centre), 11; Kulanu (All of Us, centre-right), 10; Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home, Zionist nationalist), 8; Shas (Sephardic, ultra-orthodox), 7; Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home, right-wing), 6; United Torah Judaism (ultra-orthodox coalition), 6; Meretz (Energy, left-wing), 5
Internet: www.cbs.gov.il (Central Bureau of Statistics)
Member of Council of Europe observer, EBRD, OAS observer, OECD, UN, WTO
International license plate code IL
International dialling code 00972
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .il
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October
Annual average temperature (°C) Jerusalem 17.6
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Jerusalem 9/24
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Jerusalem 14/6
Annual average precipitation (mm) Jerusalem 534
Days of rainfall (annual average) Jerusalem 43
Politics and current affairs
Since 30 March 2018, there have been weekly protests on the border between Gaza and Israel over Palestinians’ right to return to Israel-occupied territories, against the Blockade of the Strip and US President D. Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. The stern response of the Israeli military has led to dozens of deaths. With the support of ultra-orthodox parties restored, the government is once again stable, despite Prime Minister B. Netanyahu’s involvement in various corruption investigations. On 19 July 2018, Parliament approved a controversial law that defines the country as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.
Israel is bordered to the north by Lebanon, to the north-east by Syria, to the east by Jordan and the West Bank and to the south-west by Egypt and Gaza Strip. Its north-west coast lies on the Mediterranean Sea, and to the south is the Gulf of Aqaba. The country consists of the high plains of Galilee, Samaria and Judea. Towards the east there is a deep depression following the course of the river Jordan (partly occupied by the Dead Sea) which reaches a depth of -422 m. Along the Mediterranean coast lie the fertile plains of Sharon and Shephelah. The southern part of Israel consists of the Negev desert. The climate is Mediterranean.
The state of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 based on a UN resolution of November 1947 which divided Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish one. The resolution was rejected by all the Arab states, which went to war with Israel in 1948. Another three wars broke out in 1956, 1967, and 1973, all of them won by Israel. In 1967 Israel occupied some parts of Egypt (Sinai and Gaza), Jordan (the West Bank) and Syria (the Golan Heights). In 1978, with the USA as mediator, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt which included the provision that Israel would return all of the lands occupied in Sinai, the recognition of the legitimate rights of Palestinians and an undertaking to respect their autonomy. In 1982, with the aim of attacking Palestinian bases there, Israel occupied the southern part of Lebanon (it withdrew in 2000).
In 1987 the Intifada (“revolt of the stones”) surfaced among the Palestinian population in the territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and was bitterly repressed by the army. It was only in 1992, after the victory of the Labour Party, that the government abandoned its hard line, and with a series of agreements (1993-95) the PNA (the Palestinian National Authority) led by Yasser Arafat was officially recognized. The main architect of these agreements, the Labour leader Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated on 4 November 1995 by a right wing Israeli extremist.
New terrorist atrocities by Palestinians and the election of Likud in the 1996 elections slowed down the peace process, which only picked up again, with some difficulty, after the Sharm el Sheik agreements (4 September 1999). The agreements still did not, however, resolve the question of what to do with the capital, Jerusalem. A new Intifada broke out in 2000 and produced several bloody attacks by the Palestinians and repression from the Israelis which made any agreement impossible. The following government, led by Ariel Sharon (Likud), initially supported military intervention, and built a wall to separate Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories. Put forward by the right wing, the Sharon plan for an Israeli withdrawal was supported by the Labour Party and was passed by the Knesset (2004). Having founded a new party (Kadima) in 2005, open to members from all fronts as long as they were prepared to pursue the plan for Israel’s unilateral separation from the Palestinian territories, Sharon suffered a stroke (2006); the party’s leadership passed to Ehud Olmert, who won the early elections in 2006 as the head of a fragile centre coalition. In June 2006, Israeli armed forces invaded southern Lebanon to fight the Hezbollah militia, withdrawing in August following a ceasefire. From December 2008 to January 2009, in response to rocket fire, a quick yet violent offensive was carried out against the Gaza Strip. After the 2009 elections a government of the right was formed, led by Likud and headed by Netanyahu, who continued to lead the country even after the elections of 2013 and 2014, despite being forced to form coalition governments. Following the news of the collaboration between ANP and Hamas, Israel announced on 24 May 2014 they would suspend the peace talks, which had started again in 2013. Israel does not have a written constitution. Following the basis of the founding laws of the country, the President of the Republic is elected for a five-year term by the Knesset which has 120 deputies who are elected for four-year terms. The Prime Minister must have the approval of Parliament.
Defence and justice.
Military service includes a complex system of compulsory conscription for both sexes, but limited to Jews and Druze, and longer-term postings in the reserves. The country possesses nuclear weapons (although it has never officially admitted it) and it has never signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The legal system is based on British Common law.
|Tel Aviv-Jaffa=Tel Aviv-Yafo||438 800||inhab.||2016|
|Tel Aviv-Jaffa||3 854 000||inhab.||2016|
|Gerusalemme||1 253 900||inhab.||2016|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2017)|
Together with the first traditional, immigrants coming from central and eastern Europe (Ashkenazi Jews) and from North Africa (Sephardi Jews), over a million Russian Jews have joined them since the break-up of the USSR. More than a fifth of the population are Arabs who remained in Israel after 1948.
Exports, in decline since 2015 due to negative global trends, began to grow again in 2018; the economy is also sustained through internal demand. Wealth disparity is considerably high and the high prices of houses and everyday goods make things difficult for the less affluent classes. Despite widespread discontent, the government has upheld a strict fiscal manoeuvre to gradually reduce the deficit of public accounts.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||108.82||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||-10 816||M US$||2017|
|Active population||3 993 100||units||2017|
|Active population, Females||47.3||%||2017|
|Unemployment rate, Females||48.4||%||2017|
|Expenses||449 334.4||M LCU||2017|
|Revenues||422 313.3||M LCU||2017|
|Currency in circulation||76||BN LCU||2016|
|International reserves||113 009.5||M US$||2017|
The most widely grown crops are fruit and vegetables; vines are also found in the plains of Judea and Sharon. In Western Galilee olives are widely grown. Citrus fruits, mostly for export, are typical in the irrigated strip of land near the coast, especially in the region of Haifa (Petaẖ Tikva).
|cereals, total||305.382||1000 t||2016|
|roots and tubers, total||635.996||1000 t||2016|
|beans, green||10.789||1000 t||2016|
|broad beans, dry||12.6||1000 t||2014|
|sesame seed||0.047||1000 t||2016|
|sugar beet||0||1000 t||2016|
|seed cotton||35.8||1000 t||2016|
|citrus fruits||494||1000 t||2016|
|citrus fruits, nes||11||1000 t||2016|
|sweet potatoes||2.154||1000 ha||2016|
|beans, green||0.966||1000 ha||2016|
|broad beans, dry||0.1||1000 ha||2014|
|sesame seed||0.022||1000 ha||2016|
|sugar beet||0||1000 ha||2016|
|seed cotton||8.34||1000 ha||2016|
|citrus fruits||20.774||1000 ha||2016|
|citrus fruits, nes||1.009||1000 ha||2016|
|cattle and buffaloes||506.7||1000 heads||2016|
|asses and mules||6.6||1000 heads||2016|
|birds||46 979||1000 heads||2016|
|crustaceans and molluscs||210||t||2016|
|freshwater fishes||14 747||t||2016|
Crude oil is extracted from deposits in H̱eleẕ and Kokhav (in northern Negev), and in Rosh Ha‘Ayin and Kefar Sava (in the central district). An oil pipeline (425 km) transports imported crude from Elat (on the Gulf of Aqaba) to Beersheba and Haifa; another one (260 km) connects Elat to Ashqelon. In 2012 natural gas began to be extracted from the vast underwater deposits of Tamar; the Leviathan deposit is even richer. Other productive gas fields are located at Kidod and Rosh Zohar; a pipeline (29 km) carries the gas to chemical plants at Sedom, on the Dead Sea.
In 2012, the agreement with Egypt was revoked for the gas supply via the undersea pipeline from Al-‘Arīsh to Ashqelon, target of numerous acts of terrorism. Potassium salts are also found (at Sedom), as well as bromide and magnesium (from the waters of the Dead Sea), and natural phosphates (at Oron and Arad, in northern Negev).
Energy and industry.
Most of the energy is produced by gas-fired and coal-fired thermal power plants. Industrial activity is concentrated in the plain of Haifa (metal-working, chemicals and cement) and at Tel Aviv-Jaffa (light industry, textiles and foodstuffs). Two refineries are active at Ashod and Haifa. High-tech businesses are found at Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Herzliyya and Haifa (telecommunications and information technology); there are important technology parks at Jerusalem, Karmi’el and Nesher. The large, highly-skilled workforce and the lenient tax system have encouraged several multinationals into the area. Car manufacturers are located at Haifa. The main diamond works are at Netanya and Tel Aviv. There are also paper, cigarette and tyre factories.
|natural gas||9 600||M m³||2017|
|oil, crude||19.5||1000 t||2017|
|phosphate rock||4 000||1000 t||2017|
|marble - t||77||1000 t||2015|
|- thermal||59 231.28||M kWh||2015|
|- other renew.||1 190||M kWh||2015|
|- thermal||16 445||1000 kW||2015|
|- other renew.||769||1000 kW||2015|
|total net generation||60 445.28||M kWh||2015|
|total installed capacity||17 221||1000 kW||2015|
|petrol||4 348.6||1000 t||2014|
|nitrogen fertilizers||16.6||1000 t||2014|
|phosphate fertilizers||790.3||1000 t||2015|
|beer of barley||120||1000 t||2014|
|cottonseed oil||2.9||1000 t||2014|
|other paper||403||1000 t||2016|
|cement||6 904||1000 t||2015|
|chemicals production||7 225.7||M US$||2010|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||4 187.6||M US$||2014|
The trend of the balance of trade is negative. Imports include mainly energy and mining resources.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) diamonds 11 186, electrical and electronic equipment 6 812, pharmaceuticals 6 361, chemicals 4 450, machinery 4 434, technical and electro-medical appliances 4 408, aircraft and parts thereof 2 851, plastics 2 556, fertilizers 1 035
Finance and banking.
The Bank of Israel acts as the central bank.
|manufactures||92.469||% of goods exports||2016|
|food products||2.793||% of goods exports||2016|
|United States||14 547||M US$||2017|
|United Kingdom||4 540||M US$||2017|
|China||9 157||M US$||2017|
|United States||8 193||M US$||2017|
|Expenditures||8 607||M US$||2016|
|Number of arrivals||2 900 000||units||2016|
|Civil aviation, km flown||98 700 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||7 065||1000 units||2017|
|Broadband subscribers||281.437||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Computers||1 225||per 1000 pop.||2005|
Social and welfare
|Expected years of schooling||15.9||years||2016|
|Teachers, primary level||73 104||units||2014-13|
|Teachers, secondary level||61 701||units||2014-13|
|Social protection spending||27.6||% of total expenses||2016|
|Social protection spending||16.1||% of GDP||2016|
|Hospital beds||3||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Physicians||3.1||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2011|
|Tuberculosis||3.5||per 100 000 pop.||2016|
|Museums, visitors||7 462 049||units||2013|
|Research and development spending||4.25||% of GDP||2016|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2016|