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Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon

Geographic coordinates:

31 30 N, 34 45 E


total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km

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


273 km

Maritime claims:

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


temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas


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: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,940 sq km (2003)

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

Geography - note:

there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2005 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source


note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 26.3% (male 855,054/female 815,619)
15-64 years: 63.9% (male 2,044,135/female 2,016,647)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 266,671/female 353,991) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 29.6 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 30.5 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.18% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

17.97 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

6.18 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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 (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 6.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 79.46 years
male: 77.33 years
female: 81.7 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.41 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

3,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

100 (2001 est.)


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.)


Jewish 76.5%, Muslim 15.9%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2003)


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: 95.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)

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


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


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


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


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 29 March 2006 (next scheduled to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Kadima 29, Labor 19, Likud 12, SHAS 12, Yisrael Beiteinu 11, National Union/NRP (National Religious Party) 9, Gil (Gimla'ey Yisrael LaKneset) Party 7, Torah and Shabbat Judaism 6, Meretz-YAHAD 5, United Arab List 4, Balad 3, HADASH 3

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (justices appointed for life by the president)

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 rebounded in 2003 and 2004, growing at a 4% rate each year, as the government tightened fiscal policy and implemented structural reforms to boost competition and efficiency in the markets. In 2005, rising consumer confidence, tourism, and foreign direct investment - as well as higher demand for Israeli exports - boosted GDP by 4.7%.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$140.1 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$121.2 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4.7% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$22,300 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 37.7%
services: 59.5% (2003 est.)

Labor force:

2.42 million (2005 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:

8.9% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

21% (2005)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.4%
highest 10%: 28.3% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

34 (2005)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.3% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

17.5% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $43.82 billion
expenditures: $58.04 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

101% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products


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, footwear

Industrial production growth rate:

4.8% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

44.24 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

39.67 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - exports:

1.47 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

2,740 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - consumption:

270,100 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

1.92 million bbl (1 January 2002)

Natural gas - production:

200 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

200 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

38.94 billion cu m (1 January 2002)

Current account balance:

$500 million (2005 est.)


$40.14 billion f.o.b. (2005 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)


$43.19 billion f.o.b. (2005 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:

$29.69 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$73.87 billion (30 June 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$662 million from US (2003 est.)

Currency (code):

new Israeli shekel (ILS); note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code for the NIS

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

3 million (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

7.222 million (2004)

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)

Television broadcast stations:

17 (plus 36 low-power repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,069,088 (2005)

Internet users:

3.2 million (2005)


51 (2005)

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 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2005)


3 (2005)


gas 140 km; oil 1,509 km (2004)


total: 640 km
standard gauge: 640 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 17,237 km
paved: 17,237 km (including 126 km of expressways) (2002)

Merchant marine:

total: 18 ships (1000 GRT or over) 728,759 GRT/863,881 DWT
by type: cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, container 16
registered in other countries: 53 (The Bahamas 5, Bermuda 1, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 3, Honduras 1, Liberia 5, Malta 27, Panama 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, Slovakia 6) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa

Military branches:

Israel Defence Forces (IDF): Ground Corps, Navy, Air and Space Force (includes Air Defense Forces); historically there have been no separate Israeli military services

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 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

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

IDPs: 276,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center