small Israel occupies about 75% of an area long known as Canaan.
This historic, volatile spot is significant for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike,
as Jerusalem is recognized as a holy city by all three religious faiths.
Old Testament of the Bible (the Jewish Torah), describes how after being led out
of Egypt by Moses into this land of Canaan, Hebrew tribes, decendents of the 12
sons of Jacob, settled, and later formed the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
passed, and then (by decree) on May 14, 1948, (an agreed to partition of Palestine)
between the Jews and Arabs, and one later recommended by a special committee of
the United Nations in 1947, was the force that formed the official State of Israel.
is a parliamentary democracy. Its governmental system is based on several basic
laws enacted by its unicameral parliament, the Knesset.
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.
- Jerusalem. Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the
US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv.
language - Hebrew. Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most
commonly used foreign language.
Currency - New Israeli Shekel
considered a holy land by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and homeland of the modern
state of Israel, was known as Canaan to the ancient Hebrews. Palestine's name
derives from the Philistines, a people who occupied the southern coastal part
of the country in the 12th century B.C.
A Hebrew kingdom established in 1000
B.C. was later split into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel; they were subsequently
invaded by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, and Alexander
the Great of Macedonia. By A.D. 135, few Jews were left in Palestine; most lived
in the scattered and tenacious communities of the Diaspora. Palestine became a
center of Christian pilgrimage after the emperor Constantine converted to that
faith. The Arabs took Palestine from the Byzantine empire in 634640. Interrupted
only by Christian Crusaders, Muslims ruled Palestine until the 20th century. During
World War I, British forces defeated the Turks in Palestine and governed the area
under a League of Nations mandate from 1923.
As part of the 19th-century Zionist
movement, Jews had begun settling in Palestine as early as 1820. This effort to
establish a Jewish homeland received British approval in the Balfour Declaration
of 1917. During the 1930s, Jews persecuted by the Hitler regime poured into Palestine.
The postwar acknowledgment of the HolocaustHitler's genocide of 6 million
Jewsincreased international interest in and sympathy for the cause of Zionism.
However, Arabs in Palestine and surrounding countries bitterly opposed prewar
and postwar proposals to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish sectors. The
British mandate to govern Palestine ended after the war, and, in 1947, the UN
voted to partition Palestine. When the British officially withdrew on May 14,
1948, the Jewish National Council proclaimed the State of Israel.
came within hours. The next day, Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon,
and Iraq invaded the new nation. By the cease-fire on Jan. 7, 1949, Israel had
increased its original territory by 50%, taking western Galilee, a broad corridor
through central Palestine to Jerusalem, and part of modern Jerusalem. Chaim Weizmann
and David Ben-Gurion became Israel's first president and prime minister. The new
government was admitted to the UN on May 11, 1949.
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.
East, lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and bordered by Egypt on
the west, Syria and Jordan on the east, and Lebanon on the north.
four distinct geographical areas: a fertile plain fronts the Mediterranean Sea
coastline; rolling hills disect the country (central and north); the Great Rift
Valley runs south to the Gulf of Aqaba along its southern border with Jordan,
and the southern Negev region, which comprises almost half the total area, is
largely a desert.
Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source. The River
Jordon is the most significant river, flows from the north through Lake Hule (Waters
of Merom) and Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee or Sea of Tiberias), and it forms
the natural border between Israel and Jordan.
Land area - 20,330 sq km (7,849
sq miles). The highest
point - Mt. Meron (far-north), rises to 3,963 ft. (1,208 m). The lowest point
is - 400 m below sea level in the Dead Sea.
Climate - temperate;
hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas.
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).
- 6,426,000 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.
80.1%, Muslim 14.6% (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2.1%, other 3.2%.
Israel, perfectly located at the fulcrum of Europe, Asia and Africa, is a
world-class destination for sophisticated travelers. Israel offers cultural attractions
on a par with Europe, the U.S. and Canada, luxury hotels, glamorous spas and a
hot restaurant scene - all within an atmosphere that combines the very ancient
with the ultra high-tech, and the exotic with the contemporary.
(voltage) - 220 V, 50 Hz, plug type -
Please visit our special web site to rent