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By Details > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Israel
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Map of Israel
IntroductionTop
Background: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 occupied by Israel 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. 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 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. On 24 June 2002, US President BUSH laid out a "road map" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which envisions a two-state solution. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement has been undermined by Palestinian-Israeli violence ongoing since September 2000. The conflict may have reached a turning point with the election in January 2005 of Mahmud ABBAS as the new Palestinian leader following the November 2004 death of Yasir ARAFAT.
GeographyTop
Location:Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates:31 30 N, 34 45 E
Map references:Middle East
Area:total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: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

Coastline:273 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation

Climate:temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Terrain:Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m

Natural resources:timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use:arable land: 16.39%
permanent crops: 4.17%
other: 79.44% (2001)

Irrigated land:1,990 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issues: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
Environment - international agreements:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note:there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 25 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (February 2002 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source
PeopleTop
Population:6,276,883
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, more than 5,000 in the Gaza Strip, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:0-14 years: 26.5% (male 851,415/female 812,095)
15-64 years: 63.7% (male 2,010,888/female 1,986,256)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 264,708/female 351,521) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 29.39 years
male: 28.58 years
female: 30.27 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:1.2% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:18.21 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:6.18 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 7.03 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.77 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 79.32 years
male: 77.21 years
female: 81.55 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.44 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:3,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:100 (2001 est.)
Nationality:noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli

Ethnic groups:Jewish 80.1% (Europe/America-born 32.1%, Israel-born 20.8%, Africa-born 14.6%, Asia-born 12.6%), non-Jewish 19.9% (mostly Arab) (1996 est.)
Religions:Jewish 76.5%, Muslim 15.9%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2003)
Languages:Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el

Government type:parliamentary democracy
Capital:Jerusalem; note - Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
Administrative divisions:6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
Independence:14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday: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
Constitution: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
Legal system:mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Moshe KATZAV (since 31 July 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Ariel SHARON (since 7 March 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term; election last held 31 July 2000 (next to be held mid-2007); following legislative elections, the president assigns a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the largest party - the task of forming a governing coalition; election last held 28 January 2003 (next scheduled to be held fall of 2006)
election results: Moshe KATZAV elected president by the 120-member Knesset with a total of 60 votes, other candidate, Shimon PERES, received 57 votes (there were three abstentions); Ariel SHARON continues as prime minister after Likud Party victory in January 2003 Knesset elections; Likud won 38 seats and then formed coalition government with Shinui, the National Religious Party, and the National Union

Legislative branch:unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 28 January 2003 (next scheduled to be held fall of 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - Likud Party 29.4%, Labor 14.5%, Shinui 12.3%, Shas 8.2%, National Union 5.5%, Meretz 5.2%, United Torah Judaism 4.3%, National Religious Party 4.2%, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3.0%, One Nation 2.8%, National Democratic Assembly 2.3%, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya (YBA) 2.2%, United Arab List 2.1%, Green Leaf Party 1.2%, Herut 1.2%, other 1.6%; seats by party - Likud 38, Labor 19, Shinui 15, Shas 11, National Union 7, Meretz 6, National Religious Party 6, United Torah Judaism 5, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3, One Nation 3, National Democratic Assembly 3, YBA 2, United Arab List 2

Judicial branch:Supreme Court (justices appointed for life by the president)
Political parties and leaders:Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) [Muhammad BARAKA]; Green Leaf Party (no longer active) [Boaz WACHTEL and Shlomi SANDAK]; Herut (no longer active) [Michael KLEINER]; Labor Party [Shimon PERES]; Likud Party [Ariel SHARON]; Meretz (merged with YAHAD) [Zahava GALON]; National Democratic Assembly (Balad) [Azmi BISHARA]; National Religious Party [Ephraim "Efie" EITAM]; National Union (Haichud Haleumi) [Avigdor LIBERMAN] (includes Tekuma Moledet and Yisra'el Beiteinu); One Nation [David TAL]; Shas [Eliyahu YISHAI]; Shinui [Yosef "Tommy" LAPID]; United Arab List [Abd al-Malik DAHAMSHAH]; United Torah Judaism [Yaakov LITZMAN]; YAHAD [Yossi BEILIN]; Yisra'el Ba'Aliya or YBA (merged with Likud) [Natan SHARANSKY]
Political pressure groups and leaders:Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Yesha (settler) Council promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise; B'Tselem monitors human rights abuses
International organization participation:BIS, BSEC (observer), CE (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, OAS (observer), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Flag description: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
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. 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. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain, but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account 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, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict; difficulties in the high-technology, construction, and tourist sectors; and fiscal austerity in the face of growing inflation led to small declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002. The economy grew at 1% in 2003, with improvements in tourism and foreign direct investment. In 2004, rising business and consumer confidence - as well as higher demand for Israeli exports boosted GDP by 3.9%.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $129 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:3.9% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $20,800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 37.7%
services: 59.5% (2003 est.)

Labor force:2.68 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture, forestry, and fishing 2.6%, manufacturing 20.2%, construction 7.5%, commerce 12.8%, transport, storage, and communications 6.2%, finance and business 13.1%, personal and other services 6.4%, public services 31.2% (1996)
Unemployment rate:10.7% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:18% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 28.3% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:35.5 (2001)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):0% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):17.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $48.09 billion
expenditures: $52.11 billion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:104.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Industries:high-technology projects (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 and footwear
Industrial production growth rate:4.5% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:42.67 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:38.3 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:1.387 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:80 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:260,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:1.92 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:10 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:10 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:20.81 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:$211.9 million (2004 est.)
Exports:$34.41 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners:US 36.8%, Belgium 7.5%, Hong Kong 4.9% (2004)
Imports:$36.84 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partners:US 15%, Belgium 10.1%, Germany 7.5%, Switzerland 6.5%, UK 6.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$28.48 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$74.46 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):new Israeli shekel (ILS); note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standarization (ISO) code for the NIS
Currency code:ILS
Exchange rates:new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.482 (2004), 4.5541 (2003), 4.7378 (2002), 4.2057 (2001), 4.0773 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:3.006 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:6.334 million (2002)
Telephone system: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
international: country code - 972; 3 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 23, FM 15, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios:3.07 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:17 (plus 36 low-power repeaters) (1995)
Televisions:1.69 million (1997)
Internet country code:.il
Internet hosts:437,516 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):21 (2000)
Internet users:2 million (2002)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 640 km
standard gauge: 640 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)

Highways:total: 16,903 km
paved: 16,903 km (including 56 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (2002)

Pipelines:gas 140 km; oil 1,509 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
Merchant marine:total: 17 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 752,873 GRT/881,711 DWT
by type: cargo 1, container 16
registered in other countries: 48 (2005)

Airports:51 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 28
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 4 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2004 est.)

Heliports:3 (2004 est.)
MilitaryTop
Military branches:Israel Defense Forces (IDF): Ground Corps, Navy, Air and Space Force (includes Air Defense Forces); historically there have been no separate Israeli military services
Military manpower - military age and obligation:17 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for men, 21 months for women (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 17-49: 1,492,125
females age 17-49: 1,443,916 (2005 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 17-49: 1,255,902
females age 17-49: 1,212,394 (2005 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 53,760
females: 51,293 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:$9.11 billion (FY03)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:8.7% (FY02)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international: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 announced its intention to pull out Israeli settlers and withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank in 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
Refugees and internally displaced persons::IDPs: 276,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2004)
Illicit drugs:increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center

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