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Flag of Israel

Country Profile

Capital City: Jerusalem
(Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950. But nearly all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.)

Other Cities: Haifa, Nazareth, Tel Aviv

Local Time: UTC +2h

Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon.
Area: 20,325 sq. km.1 (7,850 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Plains, mountains, desert, and coast.
Border countries: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank .

Climate: Temperate, except in desert areas.


Type: Parliamentary democracy
Independence: 14 May 1948
Constitution: no formal constitution

Nationality: noun: Israeli(s), adjective: Israeli
Population: 6 million (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Jewish 5.2 million; non-Jewish 1.2 million
Religions: Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Druze
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic (official), Russian, English
Literacy: total population 95% (female 93%; male 97%).


Currency: (New) Israeli Sheqel (ILS)

Natural resources: Timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand.

Agriculture products: Citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products.

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.

Exports partners:
USA 38.4%, Belgium 7.4%, Hong Kong 4.8% (2003)

Imports partners: USA 15.6%, Belgium 9.3%, Germany 8%, UK 6.7%, Switzerland 6.1%, Italy 4.1% (2003)

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Background:  Following World War II, the British withdrew from their
mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish
states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis
defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions
between the two sides. 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. Outstanding territorial and other disputes
with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of
Peace. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference
in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel
and Palestinian representatives (from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and
Gaza Strip) and Syria, to achieve a permanent settlement; however, these
efforts were derailed/postponed by the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian
violence in September 2000. On 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally
from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982.

Geography Israel

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

Area - comparative:  slightly smaller than 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:  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:  timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate
rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand

Land use:  arable land: 17% permanent crops: 4% other: 79% (1998 est.)

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

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

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear
Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed,
but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note:  there are 231 Israeli settlements and civilian land
use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights,
25 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2001 est.);
Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source

People Israel

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:   81.01 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.54 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.08% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  2,400 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  less than 100 (1999 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 Israel

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

Government type:  parliamentary democracy

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

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

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:   President Moshe KATSAV (since 31 July 2000) elections:
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 head of
 Prime Minister Ariel SHARON (since 7 March 2001) cabinet:  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

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),

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
David IVRY consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston,
Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco FAX: [1]
(202) 364-3607 telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500 chancery: 3514 International
Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Daniel C. KURTZER embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv mailing address:
PSC 98, Unit 7228, 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 Israel

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.)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 26.9% (1992)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  35.5 (1992)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  1.1% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  2.4 million (2000 est.)

Labor force - 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 - production:  38.876 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 99.89% hydro: 0.11%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  34.897 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  1.27 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  12 million kWh (2000)

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

Exports:  $26.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds,
agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel

Exports - partners:  US 37.4%, Benelux 6%, Germany 4.8%, Hong Kong 4.4%,
UK 4.3%, Netherlands 2.8% (2000)

Imports:  $30.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  raw materials, military equipment, investment
goods, rough diamonds, fuels, consumer goods

Imports - 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:  NA

Currency:  new Israeli shekel (ILS)

Currency code:  ILS

Exchange rates:  new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.2757 (December
2001), 4.2057 (2001), 4.0773 (2000), 4.1397 (1999), 3.8001 (1998), 3.4494

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Israel

Telephones - main lines in use:  2.8 million (1999)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  2.5 million (1999)

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:
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)

Internet country code:  .il

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  21 (2000)

Internet users:  1.94 million (2001)

Transportation Israel

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.)

Waterways:  none

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: 4 914 to 1,523 m: 11 under 914 m: 5 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 7

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 25 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to
1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 20 (2001)

Heliports:  3 (2001)

Military Israel

Military branches:  Israel Defense Forces (IDF) (includes ground, naval,
and air components with Air Defense Forces), 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 (2002 est.)

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 age 15-49: 1,262,973
females age 15-49: 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 Israel

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 (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of
Golan Heights)

Illicit drugs:  increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse;
drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and increasingly Jordan

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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