Introduction ::Israel
Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo Accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia - the "Quartet" - took the lead in laying out a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between September 2003 and February 2005. In the summer of 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006 and presided over a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006 and a 23-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip during December 2008 and January 2009. OLMERT, who in June 2007 resumed talks with PA President Mahmoud ABBAS, resigned in September 2008. Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU formed a coalition in March 2009 following a February 2009 general election. Peace talks are currently stalled.
Geography ::Israel
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
31 30 N, 34 45 E
total: 22,072 sq km
country comparison to the world: 152
land: 21,642 sq km
water: 430 sq km
slightly smaller than New Jersey
total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
273 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Current Weather
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
arable land: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)
1,940 sq km (2003)
1.7 cu km (2001)
total: 2.05 cu km/yr (31%/7%/62%)
per capita: 305 cu m/yr (2000)
sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
there are about 340 Israeli civilian sites - including 100 small outpost communities in the West Bank - as well as 42 sites in the Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (July 2008 est.); Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source
People ::Israel
country comparison to the world: 97
note: the population estimates previously published on this site for the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are under review, please check back in the future for revised estimates. (July 2010 est.)
0-14 years: 27.9% (male 1,031,629/female 984,230)
15-64 years: 62.3% (male 2,283,034/female 2,221,301)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 311,218/female 402,289) (2010 est.)
total: 29.3 years
male: 28.6 years
female: 30 years (2010 est.)
1.671% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
19.77 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
5.43 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 177
2.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
urban population: 92% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
total: 4.22 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 207
male: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
total population: 80.73 years
country comparison to the world: 12
male: 78.62 years
female: 82.95 years (2010 est.)
2.72 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 83
0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
5,100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)
Jewish 75.5%, Muslim 16.8%, Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.9% (2008)
Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9% (2004 est.)
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)
6.9% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 25
Government ::Israel
conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
parliamentary democracy
name: Jerusalem
geographic coordinates: 31 46 N, 35 14 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May
no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law; note - since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been working on a draft constitution
mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and in personal matters Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, assigns the task of forming a governing coalition to a Knesset member who he or she determines is most likely to accomplish that task
election results: Shimon PERES elected president; number of votes in first round - Shimon PERES 58, Reuven RIVLIN 37, Colette AVITAL 21; PERES elected president in second round with 86 votes (unopposed)
unicameral Knesset (120 seats; political parties are elected by popular vote and assigned seats for members on a proportional basis; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 10 February 2009 (next scheduled election to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - Kadima 23.2%, Likud-Ahi 22.3%, YB 12.1%, Labor 10.2%, SHAS 8.8%, United Torah Judaism 4.5%, United Arab List 3.5%, NU 3.4%, Hadash 3.4%, The Jewish Home 3%, The New Movement-Meretz 3%, Balad 2.6%; seats by party - Kadima 28, Likud-Ahi 27, YB 15, Labor 13, SHAS 11, United Torah Judaism 5, United Arab List 4, NU 4, HADASH 4, The Jewish Home 3, The New Movement-Meretz 3, Balad 3
Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)
Balad [Azmi BISHARA]; Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (HADASH) [Muhammad BARAKEH]; Kadima [Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI]; Labor Party [Ehud BARAK]; Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]; National Union [Yaakov KATZ]; SHAS [Eliyahu YISHAI]; The Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) [Daniel HERSCHKOWITZ]; The New Movement-Meretz [Haim ORON]; United Arab List-Ta'al [Ibrahim SARSUR]; United Torah Judaism or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN]; Yisrael Beiteinu or YB [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]
B'Tselem [Jessica MONTELL, Executive Director] monitors human rights abuses; Peace Now [Yariv OPPENHEIMER, Secretary General] supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; YESHA Council of Settlements [Danny DAYAN, Chairman] promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise; Breaking the Silence [Yehuda SHAUL, Executive Director] collects testimonies from soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
BIS, BSEC (observer), CERN (observer), CICA, EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), Paris Club (associate), PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael OREN
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
chief of mission: Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7575
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government
white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag; the basic design resembles a Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), which is white with blue stripes; the hexagram as a Jewish symbol dates back to medieval times
Economy ::Israel
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, its major source of economic and military aid. Israel's GDP, after contracting slightly in 2001 and 2002 due to the Palestinian conflict and troubles in the high-technology sector, grew about 5% per year from 2004-07. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals - following years of prudent fiscal policy and a series of liberalizing reforms - and a resilient banking sector, and the economy has shown signs of an early recovery. Following GDP growth of 4% in 2008, Israel's GDP grew by 0.5% in 2009 and is expected to expand in 2010. The global economic downturn affected Israel's economy primarily through reduced demand for Israel's exports in the United States and EU, Israel's top trading partners. Exports account for about 45% of the country's GDP. The Israeli Government responded to the recession by implementing a modest fiscal stimulus package and an aggressive expansionary monetary policy - including cutting interest rates to record lows, purchasing government bonds, and intervening in the foreign currency market. The Bank of Israel began raising interest rates in the summer of 2009 when inflation rose above the upper end of the Bank's target and the economy began to show signs of recovery.
$205.8 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
$205.4 billion (2008 est.)
$197.1 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
$194.8 billion (2009 est.)
0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
4.2% (2008 est.)
5.2% (2007 est.)
$28,400 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
$28,900 (2008 est.)
$28,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
agriculture: 2.6%
industry: 32%
services: 65.4% (2009 est.)
3.015 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103
agriculture: 2%
industry: 16%
services: 82% (September 2008)
7.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
6.1% (2008 est.)
note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day (2007)
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 24.3% (2008)
39.2 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 67
35.5 (2001)
16.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
revenues: $45 billion
expenditures: $58.6 billion (2009 est.)
78.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
75.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
3.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
4.6% (2008 est.)
1.25% (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 131
2.25% (31 December 2008)
6.06% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 135
6.27% (31 December 2007)
$18.9 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 44
$19.99 billion (31 December 2007)
$170.6 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 19
$154.3 billion (31 December 2007)
$145.2 billion (31 December 2007)
country comparison to the world: 35
$113.4 billion (31 December 2006)
$188.7 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 29
$134.5 billion (31 December 2008)
$236.4 billion (31 December 2007)
citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
high-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, footwear
-1.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
54.5 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
46.38 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
2.081 billion kWh (2007)
0 kWh (2008)
3,806 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
231,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
69,580 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
318,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
1.94 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
30.44 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
$7.22 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
$1.442 billion (2008)
$45.76 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
$57.16 billion (2008 est.)
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
US 35.05%, Hong Kong 6.02%, Belgium 4.95% (2009)
$46 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
$64.4 billion (2008)
raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
US 12.35%, China 7.43%, Germany 7.1%, Switzerland 6.94%, Belgium 5.42%, Italy 4.49%, UK 4.03%, Netherlands 3.98% (2009)
$60.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 27
$42.51 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$84.69 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$86.08 billion (31 December 2008)
$58.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
$56.93 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$55 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$54.55 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.93 (2009), 3.588 (2008), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005)
Communications ::Israel
3.1 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 48
9.5 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 62
general assessment: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital; four privately-owned mobile-cellular service providers with countrywide coverage
international: country code - 972; submarine cables provide links to Europe, Cyprus, and parts of the Middle East; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (2008)
state broadcasting network, operated by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), broadcasts on 2 channels, one in Hebrew and the other in Arabic; 5 commercial channels including a channel broadcasting in Russian, a channel broadcasting Knesset proceedings, and a music channel supervised by a public body; multi-channel satellite and cable TV packages provide access to foreign channels; IBA broadcasts on 8 radio networks with multiple repeaters and Israel Defense Forces Radio broadcasts over multiple stations; about 15 privately-owned radio stations; overall more than 100 stations and repeater stations operating (2008)
1.689 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 35
2.106 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 69
Transportation ::Israel
48 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 92
total: 30
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 6 (2010)
total: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 14 (2010)
3 (2010)
gas 176 km; oil 442 km; refined products 261 km (2009)
total: 949 km
country comparison to the world: 92
standard gauge: 949 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 18,096 km
country comparison to the world: 116
paved: 18,096 km (includes 146 km of expressways) (2008)
total: 11
country comparison to the world: 112
by type: cargo 2, container 9
registered in other countries: 60 (Bermuda 3, Cyprus 4, Georgia 2, Honduras 1, Liberia 23, Malta 18, Panama 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Slovakia 4) (2008)
Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
Military ::Israel
Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel Naval Forces (IN), Israel Air Force (IAF) (2010)
18 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for enlisted men, 21 months for enlisted women, 48 months for officers; pilots commit to 9 years service; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), 24 (women) (2010)
males age 16-49: 1,771,661
females age 16-49: 1,687,698 (2010 est.)
males age 16-49: 1,496,542
females age 16-49: 1,425,537 (2010 est.)
male: 61,613
female: 58,679 (2010 est.)
7.3% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 6
Transnational Issues ::Israel
West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank in August 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region
IDPs: 150,000-420,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2007)
increasingly concerned about ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center