Conventional Name : State of Israel (Medinat Yisra’el).

Surface area : 20,770 km².

Comparison with a European country : about half the size of The Netherlands.

Capital: Israel considers Jerusalem as its capital. Only Honduras and San Salvador have their diplomatic representations in the city, all the other countries represented in Israel have their embassy in Tel Aviv.

Administrative Divisions: 6 districts (mehoz / mehozot).

Population (2011): 7’590’758 (including the population of jewsih settlements in Palestine and excluding non jewish populations from East-Jerusalem)

Population Density (2011): 365,4 habitants/km²

Population growth (2011): 1.584 %

Fecundity rate (2011): 2,70

Life Expectancy at Birth (2011): 80.96

Infant Mortality (2000-2005): 5,21 %o

Young people under 15 Years Old (2011): 27.6%

Urban Population (2010): 92%

Net Migration Rate (est. 2011): 2.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population .

Illiteracy rate (2005) : males 1.5%, females 4.9%

HDI (Human Development Indicator, UNDP 2011) : within the 177 countries selected Israel is ranked 23 (rate 0,900, high HDI).

Ethnic background : Jewish 80.1% (Europe and America origin 32.1%, Israel origin 20.8%, Africa origin 14.6%, Asia origin 12.6%), non-Jewish 20% (mostly Arabs), (see: Israeli citizenship).

Religions : Jewish 80.1%, Muslims 14.6% (mostly Sunni), Christians 2%, others 3.2%.

Language : Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language.

Currency (2012): 1 new Israeli Shekel (NIS) = 2,03 €uros

GDP (2011):  242’900’000’000 US$

GDP per Capita (2011): 31’400  US$

Annual growth : 1994-2004: 3,4% – 2005: 5,2%- 2010 4.6%

Unemployment Rate (2012): 5.7%

Industries: food processing, diamond cutting and polishing, textiles and apparel, chemicals, metal products, military equipment, transport equipment, electrical equipment, potash mining, high-technology electronics, tourism.

Agriculture – products: citrus, 70.970 million US $

Major Trading Partners: Exports: US, UK, Hong Kong, Benelux, Japan, Netherlands, Imports: US, Benelux, Germany, UK, Italy, Switzerland.

Major Export Products: machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, chemicals, textiles and apparel, agricultural products.

Major Import Products: raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, consumer goods.

Year of independence: 14 May 1948 from The League of Nations mandate under British administration.

Territorial dispute with: Lebanon even though Israeli troops have withdrawn from Lebanon a dispute persists for an area close to Mount Hermon, Syria, Palestinian territories.

Date of UN Membership : 11 May 1949.

Political System: Republic, elected parliament, multipartism.

Head of State (President): Shimon Peres (elected in June 2007)

Prime Minister: Benjamin  Netanyahu

Minister for Foreign Affairs: Benjamin  Netanyahu

Minister of Defence: Moshe Ya’alon

Main Daily Newspapers : In Hebrew : Ha’aretz / the Land (70,000), Ma’ariv / the Prayer (220,000), Yedioth Ahronoth (450,000); In English , Jerusalem Post (70,000).

Some features:

  • In 1947 the United Nations partitioned Palestine under British mandate into a Jewish and an Arab part. In May 1948 the State of Israel was proclaimed. One day later the first Arab-Israeli conflict started : an ceasefire was signed in Rhodes between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. As a result of this conflict Israel increased its territory by 50%.
  • The Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip were invaded in 1956 by Israeli troops. The UN and the USA forced Israel to withdraw. In 1967 Israeli forces launched a new attack and after six days of fighting controlled the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Hights, the Gaza Stip, the West Bank of the Jordan river and East Jerusalem.
  • During the Yom Kippur war in 1973 Israeli troops pushed back the attack of Egyptian and Syrian troops from the Golan and the Suez Canal.
  • The Israelis consider Jerusalem as their capital, a fact which is only recognized by San Salvador and Honduras. All other countries represented in Israel have their embassy in Tel Aviv.
  • On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai following the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were solved on 26 October 1994 by the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.
  • Peace treaties with Egypt (1979), the PLO (1993) and Jordan (1994).
  • As a dividend of the peace process, Israel greatly improved its diplomatic relations with the rest of the world : 153 governments have now diplomatic relations with Israel : 59 countries established or renewed these relations after the start of the Madrid Conference and 26 after the signing of the Oslo declaration. Since the signing of this declaration, Israel also opened « Interest Offices » in 5 Arab countries: Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Tunisia. On 28 October 1999, diplomatic relations with Mauritania were upgraded to the level of embassy.
  • Israel is not adhering to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor to the Chemical Weapons Convention
  • With an annual grant of US $ 3.5 billion i.e. 8% of the Israeli national budget, from the US government, Israel is the biggest single beneficiary of US financial support. It gets nearly 25% of the total US financial support worldwide.
  • Military Co-operation Treaty with Turkey (1996).
  • Israel participates along with Morocco, Mauritania, Jordan, Tunisia and Egypt to the NATO Mediterranean Initiative started in 1995. It also participates in a similar Dialogue with the Western European Union (WEU).
  • 15% of imports and 20% of exports are diamonds (respectively rough and worked) (1995 figures)
  • Israel is the world’s fifth exporter of weapons, sales revenues could be estimated to US $ 1.5 billion (1997 figures). The top four weapon suppliers of the world in 1997 were the US, UK, France and Russia.
  • Israel has been facing significant economic challenges during the end of the 90s : recording a slow real growth, high unemployment and a reduction of foreign investment. This economic slow down is partly due to the effects of the Asian economic crisis, sharp reduction in immigration (labour force is badly needed), a dramatic decline in foreign investment (from $3.5 billion during 1997 to only $2 billion in 1998), government fiscal and monetary restrictive economic policies aimed to reduce the country’s budget deficit and inflation rates, a decline of tourism – one of the main sources of foreign currency.
  • Israel enjoys by far the highest GDP/capita of the non-EU Mediterranean countries.
  • Israel has at its disposal different civilian satellites called « AMOS » and is the first country in the Middle-East having launched a military one, « OFEQ-3 » (April 5, 1995).
  • Israel achieved the best result of all Mediterranean countries in the 1999 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (« CPI ») above of six European countries, Portugal, France, Spain, Belgium, Greece and Italy. Israel was ranked 20th on the list.
  • In the report on money laundering released in June 2000 by the the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) established by the G-7, Israeli one of the fifteen countries listed as « non-cooperative » because it lacks anti-money laundering legislation and has no financial intelligence unit. Lebanon is the only other Mediterranean country listed as well.

Sources (figures) : L’Etat du Monde 2003 (La Découverte), CIA World Factbook 2002, Human Development Report 2001 l’Etat du Monde 2007 (La Découverte)