About Israel

Facts & Figures

Geographic coordinates:
31° 30′ N, 34° 45′ E
Area:
total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area – comparative:
slightly smaller than the US state of 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: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)
Population:
7.4 Million
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 2007 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.1% (male 858,246/female 818,690)
15-64 years: 64.2% (male 2,076,649/female 2,046,343)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 269,483/female 357,268) (2007 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.9 years
male: 29.1 years
female: 30.8 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.154% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
17.71 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
6.17 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.048 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.015 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.754 male(s)/female
total population: 0.994 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.75 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.45 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.59 years
male: 77.44 years
female: 81.85 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.38 children born/woman (2007 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups:
Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)
Religions:
Jewish 76.4%, Muslim 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2004)
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: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9% (2004 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
Capital:
name: Jerusalem
geographic coordinates: 31 46 N, 35 14 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
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; note – since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been working on a draft constitution
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
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$184.9 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$132.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
5.1% (2007 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$28,800 (2007 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.4%
industry: 30%
services: 67.6% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
2.88 million (2007 est.)
Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture 18.5%, industry 23.7%, services 50%, other 7.8% (2002)
Unemployment rate:
7.6% (2007 est.)

This information is made available to assist travellers to Israel. It is of a general nature and should be checked with independent sources prior to travel.

Israel is located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, on approximately 22,000 square kilometers. This area includes the Golan Heights and excludes parts of the Gaza Strip, Jericho and the West Bank are controlled by the Palestinian Authority as part of the peace process.

Israel is 430 km in length and between 10 km to 110 km in width. Israel borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria and Jordan in the east, Egypt in the south and with areas under the Palestinian Authority.

Modern Israel has numerous ancient sites and ruins, with ongoing and new archeological digs. Israel’s terrain varies from hilly, mountainous landscapes in the north, with rich agricultural land, to barren desert landscapes in the south. The lowest place on the globe, the Dead Sea, is situated in southern Israel.

Click here to download your guide on exporting to Israel –  by Tim Harcourt chief economist at Austrade

Click here to download an Israel Country Fact Sheet

Click here for the CIA World Factbook article on Israel (which we use to provide much of the information on this page)

Israel’s major cities

 

 

Jerusalem – Israel’s capital and the location of the Knesset (parliament) and numerous historic and religious sites, population of approximately 732,100.

Tel Aviv – Major population, financial, commercial and industrial centre, population of approximately 354,000; greater metropolitan area approximately 3.1 million.

Haifa – Principal port city in the north of Israel, population of approximately 266,000.

Beer Sheva – The only city in the Negev desert in south Israel, population of approximately 186,000.

Israel’s Climate

Israel’s climate is characterized by a hot and humid coastal climate and a dry desert climate, in the summer, from April to October. The temperatures at this time of year vary from 28C in the north to 40C in the south. Winter begins around November and lasts until March with relatively mild but rainy weather. A typical winter day in Jerusalem is about 5C.

Israel’s average annual rainfall varies from over 800 mm in the north (Upper Galilee) to less than 40 mm in the south (Eilat).

The prevailing system for measurement is the metric system.

Government Overview

The State of Israel, established in 1948, is a secular democratic republic. The parliament (“Knesset”), located in Jerusalem, the state’s capital, is a unicameral chamber of 120 members elected by universal suffrage every four years under a system of proportional representation of party lists. The legislative authority lies with the Knesset which, inter alia, enacts legislation and approves the state budget. The Executive Authority, headed by the Prime Minister who is elected directly by members of the largest parliamentary party, is responsible to the Knesset.

The President, who is the head of state, is elected by the Knesset for a five year term and limited to two consecutive terms in office. His functions are mostly ceremonial. He charges the Prime Minister with the formation of a government after elections for a new term of the Knesset, appoints certain senior state officials, accredits Israel’s envoys to foreign countries and has the power to pardon criminal offenders or commute their sentences.

The State Comptroller is appointed by the Knesset and is required to audit and supervise the assets, finances and obligations of the state including the operations of government ministries, state owned corporations, enterprises and institutions, local authorities and other agencies subject to his inspection, all as prescribed under chapter 2 of the State Comptroller Act of 1958.

The central bank of the State is the Bank of Israel. Its Governor is appointed for a five year term by the President. The Bank is in charge of the management of the national monetary policy, controls banking institutions, mints coins and supplies banknotes, manages foreign reserves and state borrowing, controls foreign currency, coordinates with international banking and financial agencies, keeps the government’s books and serves as economic adviser to the government.

The courts are independent of the Executive and of the Legislature. Judges are appointed by the President who confirms the selection of the Judicial Appointments Committee. The Supreme Court, comprising a president, vice president and twelve justices (ten permanent and two temporary) is situated in Jerusalem. The Supreme Court is Israel’s highest judicial body and functions both as the High Court of Appeals and as a High Court of Justice for cases which were originally defined as within that court’s jurisdiction or which did not fall under the jurisdiction of other courts. The second level of courts is the District Courts which are located in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva and Nazareth. The District Court serves as the court of first instance and also as the court of appeals for civil and criminal cases tried in the Magistrate Courts. Alongside the formal judicial system, a large portion of the civil litigious disputes are solved through various arbitration mechanisms whose judgments or rather arbitral awards are, in essence, as enforceable as those issued by the courts themselves.

Given the numerous religious groups within Israel, many inter-personal disputes are settled by religious courts with circumscribed jurisdiction.

The Israeli legal system was based, upon independence, almost entirely on the British legal system. In the upcoming years a large volume of legislation was enacted thus amending the law and adapting it to the ever changing needs of the country and dynamics of life. Nevertheless the Israeli legislature and judicial system have always been Anglo-American or rather common law oriented and continue to rely on American and English authorities. Today however, the American influence is more significant in the law and the courts decisions than the English one.

Israel is a member of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Court of Justice in The Hague and the World Health Organization. It is also a party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and numerous conventions.

Transportation

Israel enjoys advanced inland and international transportation facilities. An extensive road network links the entire country. The recently modernized railway system provides passenger services from Haifa in the north, to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the centre, to Be’er Sheva in the Negev south.

International as well as local air traffic is highly developed and frequent air service is available between the largest cities and the northern and southernmost parts of the country.

As to waterways, Israel’s 3 major ports are located in Haifa and Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast and in Eilat on the Red Sea. All ports offer full freight facilities for international shipping.

The government invests heavily in the development of transportation infrastructure as one of its top priorities.

Communications

Israel’s national and international telecommunications systems are among the most advanced in the world. The domestic telephone system is now fully digital. Many Israeli high-tech companies operate in the data and telecommunication sector, and provide advanced hardware and software communications solutions for companies in Israel and around the world. Intense domestic competition has given Israel some of the lowest prices in the world in the cellular and long distance service markets.

Bezeq is Israel’s national telecommunications provider, and the three major cellular services companies are: Cellcom, Pelephone and Partner (Orange).

The GSM Triband is used for mobiles and is compatible with Australian’s using a Triband mobile.

Languages

Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is the principal international language and is taught in nearly every school. Due to the diversity of the immigrant population, one can find residents who are fluent in nearly any foreign language.

Currency

The Israeli monetary unit is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) which is divided into 100 Agorot.

The representative exchange rate of each foreign currency vis-a-vis the NIS is determined by the Bank of Israel as a function of the actual exchange rate of the “currency basket”, which is the relative strength of each currency in the international markets.

Currency Rates

The foreign exchange rate in Israel is not defined as a floating rate. However, since June 1997 the Bank of Israel has not intervened directly in its course. The Bank of Israel controls currency fluctuations indirectly, maintaining the exchange rate in two boundaries – with a 43% range between them. The upper boundary’s slope is 4% and the lower – 2%.

For Currency Converter, please click here.

Holidays

Israel uses two calendars, the Gregorian and the Hebrew. The Gregorian calendar is the primary calendar adhered to for business purposes, including the fiscal year, statutory dates, court dates, etc. Statutory holidays are set in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

For more details on Jewish holidays, please visit here.

For more facts about Israel, please visit here

Disclaimer

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy, correctness and timeliness of materials presented within these pages, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Therefore, you should confirm the accuracy of the information on the site before traveling to Israel.

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