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Countries > Israel Israel Flag
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Capital: Jerusalem
Population: 5,600,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Israel Map

(also see separate Gaza Strip and West Bank entries)

Introduction

Current issues: The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the data below, unless otherwise noted. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations are being conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives, and Israel and Syria, to achieve a permanent settlement between them. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

Geography

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: 1,006 km
border countries: Egypt 255 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km

Coastline: 273 km

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

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: copper, phosphates, bromide, potash, clay, sand, sulfur, asphalt, manganese, small amounts of natural gas and crude oil

Land use:
arable land: 17%
permanent crops: 4%
permanent pastures: 7%
forests and woodland : 6%
other: 66% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,990 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: sandstorms may occur during spring and summer

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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified : Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note: there are 203 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 24 in the Gaza Strip, and 26 in East Jerusalem (August 1996 est.)

People

Population: 6,029,529 (July 2002 est.)
note: includes about 182,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, fewer than 7,000 in the Gaza Strip, and about 176,000 in East Jerusalem (August 2001 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years:27.1% (male 837,491; female 798,695)
15-64 years :63% (male 1,905,677; female 1,889,525)
65 years and over:9.9% (male 257,066; female 341,075) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.48% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 18.91 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 6.21 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:2.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.86 years
male : 76.82 years
female:81.01 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.54 children born/woman (2002 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 80.1%, Muslim 14.6% (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2.1%, other 3.2% (1996 est.)

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%
male: 97%
female : 93% (1992 est.)

Government

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

Data code: IS

Government type: republic

National 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 (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: PresidentMoshe KATSAV (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 elected by the Knesset for a five-year term; election last held 31 July 1999 (next to be held NA July 2003); prime minister elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 6 February 2001 (next to be held NA November 2003); note - in March 1992, the Knesset approved legislation, effective in 1996, which allowed for the direct election of the prime minister, but in 2001 the Knesset voted to restore the previous method under which the legislators will choose the next prime minister after the next legislative elections in 2003
election results:Moshe KATSAV 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 elected prime minister; percent of vote - Ariel SHARON 62.5%, Ehud BARAK 37.4%; note - after the next legislative elections scheduled for 2003, the prime minister will be elected by the Knesset

Legislative branch: unicameral Knesset or parliament (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 17 May 1999 (next to be held NA November 2003)
election results:percent of vote by party - One Israel 20.2%, Likud Party 14.1%, Shas 13%, Meretz 7.6%, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya 5.1%, Shinui 5%, Center Party 5%, National Religious Party 4.2%, United Torah Judaism 3.7%, United Arab List 3.4%, National Union 3%, Hadash 2.6%, Yisra'el Beiteinu 2.6%, Balad 1.9%, One Nation 1.9%, Democratic Movement NA (party formed after election, members elected under Yisra'el Ba'Aliya list); seats by party - One Israel 24, Likud Party 19, Shas 17, MERETZ 10, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya 4, Shinui 6, Center Party 5, National Religious Party 5, United Torah Judaism 5, United Arab List 5, National Union 3, Hadash 3, Yisra'el Beiteinu 4, Democratic Movement 2 (party formed after election, members elected under Yisra'el Ba'Aliya list), Balad 2, One Nation 2

Judicial branch:Supreme Court (justices appointed for life by the president)

Political parties and leaders: Balad or National Democratic Alliance [Azmi BISHARA]; Center Party [Dan MERIDOR]; Democratic Movement [Roman BRONFMAN]; Gesher [David LEVI]; Hadash [Muhammad BARAKA]; Labor Party [Binyamin BEN-ELIEZER]; Likud Party [Ariel SHARON]; Meretz [Yossi SARID]; National Religious Party [Yitzhak LEVY]; National Union [Benyamin ELON] (includes Herut, Tekuma, and Moledet); One Israel [Ra'anan COHEN]; One Nation [Amir PERETZ]; Shas [Eliyahu YISHAI]; Shinui [Tommy LAPID]; United Arab List [Abd al-Malik DAHAMSHAH]; United Torah Judaism [Meir PORUSH]; Yisra'el Ba'Aliya [Natan SHARANSKY]; Yisra'el Beiteinu [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]

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: BSEC (observer), CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, ECE, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, OAS (observer), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador David IVRY
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5610
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel C. KURTZER
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 100, APO AE 09830
telephone : [972] (3) 519-7575
FAX: [972] (3) 517-3227
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government

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

Economy

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 is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains. 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 influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR during the period 1989-99 coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, energized Israel's economy, which grew rapidly in the early 1990s. But growth began moderating in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out. Growth was a strong 6.4% in 2000. But the outbreak of Palestinian unrest in late September 2000 and the declines in the high-technology and tourist sectors led to a 0.6% drop in GDP in 2001.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $119 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -0.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $20,000 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry:37%
services: 59% (1999 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index:1.1% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total:2.4 million (2000 est.)
by occupation : public services 31.2%, manufacturing 20.2%, finance and business 13.1%, commerce 12.8%, construction 7.5%, personal and other services 6.4%, transport, storage, and communications 6.2%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 2.6% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 9% (2001 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $40 billion
expenditures: $42.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries: high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, diamond cutting

Industrial production growth rate: -4.5% (2001)

Electricity - capacity: 6.92 million kW (1995 est.)

Electricity - production: 38.876 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 34.897 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products

Exports:
total value: $26.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities : machinery and equipment, cut diamonds, chemicals, textiles and apparel, agricultural products, metals
partners: US 37.4%, Benelux 6%, Germany 4.8%, Hong Kong 4.4%, UK 4.3%, Netherlands 2.8% (2000)

Imports:
total value: $30.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities : military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, oil, other productive inputs, consumer goods
partners:US 17.8%, Benelux 10%, UK 7.6%, Germany 7.5%, Switzerland 5.4%, Italy 4.8% (2000)

Debt - external: $42.8 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient : total receipts $12.14 billion of which $11.38 billion from the US (1990-93)

Currency: 1 new Israeli shekel(ILS) = 100 new agorot

Exchange rates: (ILS)

Fiscal year: calendar year (since 1 January 1992)

Communications

Telephones: 2.8 million (1999)

Telephone system: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic : good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay
international: 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)

Transportation

Railways:
total: 647 km
standard gauge: 647 km 1.435-m gauge (2001)

Highways:
total: 15,965 km
paved: 15,965 km (including 56 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (1998 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 708 km; petroleum products 290 km; natural gas 89 km

Ports and harbors: Ashdod, Ashqelon, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo

Merchant marine:
total: 16 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 595,319 GRT/704,544 DWT
ships by type: container 15, roll on/roll off 1 (2002 est.)

Airports: 54 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 29
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m : 7
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 5 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m :1
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m:20 (2001)

Heliports: 3 (2001)

Military

Military branches: Israel Defense Forces (includes ground, naval, and air components), Pioneer Fighting Youth (Nahal), Frontier Guard, Chen (women); note - historically there have been no separate Israeli military services

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,542,835
females age 15-49 : 1,499,830 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 1,262,973
females: 1,223,939 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 51,666
females : 49,207 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $8.866 bilion (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 8% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

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; Golan Heights is Israeli occupied; Israeli troops in southern Lebanon since June 1982

Illicit drugs: increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse and trafficking