The neutrality of this article is disputed. (January 2023)
Coordinates: 31°N 35°E / 31°N 35°E
State of Israel
|Anthem: הַתִּקְוָה (|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary republic|
|Independence out of British Palestine|
|14 May 1948|
|11 May 1949|
|20,770–22,072 km2 (8,019–8,522 sq mi)[a] (149th)|
• Water (%)
|2.71 (as of 2015)|
• 2023 estimate
|9,695,360[fn 4] (91st)|
• 2008 census
|439/km2 (1,137.0/sq mi) (29th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2022 estimate|
|$496.84 billion (49th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2022 estimate|
|$527.18 billion (28th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2018)||34.8[fn 4]|
|HDI (2021)|| 0.919|
very high · 22nd
|Currency||New shekel (₪) (ILS)|
|Time zone||UTC+2:00 (IST)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||IL|
Israel and the
The country has a parliamentary system, proportional representation, and universal suffrage. The prime minister serves as head of government, and is elected by the Knesset, Israel's unicameral legislature. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with a population of over 9 million people as of 2021[update]. It has the world's 28th-largest economy by nominal GDP, and ranks twenty-second in the Human Development Index.
A people named Israel appear for the first time in the Merneptah Stele, an ancient Egyptian inscription which dates to about 1200 BCE. Ancestors of the Israelites are thought to have included ancient Semitic-speaking peoples native to this area.: 78–79 According to the modern archaeological account, the Israelites and their culture branched out of the Canaanite peoples and their cultures through the development of a distinct monolatristic—and later monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh. They spoke an archaic form of the Hebrew language, known as Biblical Hebrew. Around the same time, the Philistines settled on the southern coastal plain.
There is debate about the earliest existence of the
The Kingdom of Israel was destroyed around 720 BCE, when it was conquered by the
Second Temple period
In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered the region as part of his campaign against the Persian Empire. After his death, the area was controlled by the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires as a part of Coele-Syria. During that period, the region underwent a process of Hellenization, which heightened tensions between Greeks, Hellenized Jews, and observant Jews. Several centuries of religious tolerance under Hellenistic rule came to an end when Antiochus IV consecrated the temple, outlawed Jewish customs, and forcibly imposed Hellenistic standards on the Jews. As a result, the Maccabean Revolt erupted in 167 BCE, and eventually led to the establishment of the independent Hasmonean Kingdom of Judea, which exploited the Seleucid Empire's weakening to expand over much of modern Israel and portions of Lebanon and Transjordan.
Late antiquity and the medieval period
As a result of the
In 634–641 CE, the
Modern period and the emergence of Zionism
In 1516, the region was conquered by the
Since the existence of the earliest Jewish diaspora, many Jews have aspired to return to "Zion" and the "Land of Israel", though the amount of effort that should be spent towards such an aim was a matter of dispute. During the 16th century, Jewish communities struck roots in the Four Holy Cities—Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed—and in 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem. In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in Palestine.
The first wave of modern Jewish migration to
In 1917, during World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent the Balfour Declaration to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, that stated that Britain intended for the creation of a Jewish "national home" in Palestine.
In 1918, the
After World War II, the UK found itself facing a Jewish guerrilla campaign over Jewish immigration restrictions, as well as continued conflict with the Arab community over limit levels. The Haganah joined Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors and refugees sought a new life far from their destroyed communities in Europe. The Haganah attempted to bring these refugees to Palestine in a programme called Aliyah Bet in which tens of thousands of Jewish refugees attempted to enter Palestine by ship. Most of the ships were intercepted by the Royal Navy and the refugees rounded up and placed in detention camps in Atlit and Cyprus by the British.
On 22 July 1946, Irgun
In September 1947, the British cabinet decided that the Mandate was no longer tenable, and to evacuate Palestine. According to Colonial Secretary Arthur Creech Jones, four major factors led to the decision to evacuate Palestine: the inflexibility of Jewish and Arab negotiators who were unwilling to compromise on their core positions over the question of a Jewish state in Palestine, the economic pressure that stationing a large garrison in Palestine to deal with the Jewish insurgency and the possibility of a wider Jewish rebellion and the possibility of an Arab rebellion put on a British economy already strained by World War II, the "deadly blow to British patience and pride" caused by the hangings of the sergeants, and the mounting criticism the government faced in failing to find a new policy for Palestine in place of the White Paper of 1939.
On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted
Early years of the State of Israel
On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate,
After a year of fighting, a
Immigration to Israel during the late 1940s and early 1950s was aided by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government sponsored Mossad LeAliyah Bet (lit. "Institute for Immigration B") which organized illegal and clandestine immigration. Both groups facilitated regular immigration logistics like arranging transportation, but the latter also engaged in clandestine operations in countries, particularly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where the lives of Jews were believed to be in danger and exit from those places was difficult. Mossad LeAliyah Bet was disbanded in 1953. The immigration was in accordance with the One Million Plan. The immigrants came for differing reasons: some held Zionist beliefs or came for the promise of a better life in Israel, while others moved to escape persecution or were expelled.
During the 1950s, Israel was frequently
Since 1964, Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert waters of the
Following the 1967 war and the "
On 6 October 1973, as Jews were observing
Further conflict and peace process
On 11 March 1978, a PLO guerilla raid from Lebanon led to the Coastal Road massacre. Israel responded by launching an invasion of southern Lebanon to destroy the PLO bases south of the Litani River. Most PLO fighters withdrew, but Israel was able to secure southern Lebanon until a UN force and the Lebanese army could take over. The PLO soon resumed its policy of attacks against Israel. In the next few years, the PLO infiltrated the south and kept up a sporadic shelling across the border. Israel carried out numerous retaliatory attacks by air and on the ground.
Meanwhile, Begin's government provided incentives for Israelis to
On 7 June 1981, during the
Under the leadership of
In 2006, a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel's northern border communities and a
By the 2010s, the increasing regional cooperation between Israel and Arab League countries have been established, culminating in the signing of the Abraham Accords. The Israeli security situation shifted from the traditional Arab–Israeli conflict towards the Iran–Israel proxy conflict and direct confrontation with Iran during the Syrian civil war.
Geography and environment
Israel is located in the Levant area of the Fertile Crescent region. The country is at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the southwest. It lies between latitudes 29° and 34° N, and longitudes 34° and 36° E.
The sovereign territory of Israel (according to the demarcation lines of the 1949 Armistice Agreements and excluding all territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War) is approximately 20,770 square kilometers (8,019 sq mi) in area, of which two percent is water. However Israel is so narrow (100 km at its widest, compared to 400 km from north to south) that the exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean is double the land area of the country. The total area under Israeli law, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is 22,072 square kilometers (8,522 sq mi), and the total area under Israeli control, including the military-controlled and partially Palestinian-governed territory of the West Bank, is 27,799 square kilometers (10,733 sq mi).
Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the
Tectonics and seismicity
The Jordan Rift Valley is the result of tectonic movements within the Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system. The DSF forms the transform boundary between the African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the east. The Golan Heights and all of Jordan are part of the Arabian Plate, while the Galilee, West Bank, Coastal Plain, and Negev along with the Sinai Peninsula are on the African Plate. This tectonic disposition leads to a relatively high seismic activity in the region. The entire Jordan Valley segment is thought to have ruptured repeatedly, for instance during the last two major earthquakes along this structure in 749 and 1033. The deficit in slip that has built up since the 1033 event is sufficient to cause an earthquake of Mw ~7.4.
The most catastrophic known earthquakes occurred in 31 BCE,
Temperatures in Israel vary widely, especially during the winter. Coastal areas, such as those of Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev have a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters, and fewer rainy days than the Mediterranean climate. The Southern Negev and the Arava areas have a desert climate with very hot, dry summers, and mild winters with few days of rain. The highest temperature in the world outside Africa and North America as of 2021[update], 54 °C (129 °F), was recorded in 1942 in the Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan River valley.
At the other extreme, mountainous regions can be windy and cold, and areas at elevation of 750 metres (2,460 ft) or more (same elevation as Jerusalem) will usually receive at least one
There are four different
The Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection has reported that climate change "will have a decisive impact on all areas of life, including: water, public health, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, coastal infrastructure, economics, nature, national security, and geostrategy", and will have the greatest effect on vulnerable populations such as the poor, the elderly, and the chronically ill.
As of 31 December 2022[update], Israel's population was an estimated 9,656,000. In 2022, the civil government recorded 73.6% of the population as
Israel was established as a
Approximately 80% of
The total number of
Israeli Arabs (including the Arab population of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights) comprise 21.1% of the population or 1,995,000 people. In a 2017 telephone poll, 40% of Arab citizens of Israel identified as "Arab in Israel" or "Arab citizen of Israel", 15% identified as "Palestinian", 8.9% as "Palestinian in Israel" or "Palestinian citizen of Israel", and 8.7% as "Arab"; 60% of Israeli Arabs have a positive view of the state. According to Sammy Smooha, "The identity of 83.0% of the Arabs in 2019 (up from 75.5% in 2017) has an Israeli component and 61.9% (unchanged from 60.3%) has a Palestinian component. However, when these two components were presented as competitors, 69.0% of the Arabs in 2019 chose exclusive or primary Palestinian identity, compared with 29.8% who chose exclusive or primary Israeli Arab identity."
Major urban areas
Israel has four major metropolitan areas:
Israel's largest municipality, in population and area, is Jerusalem with 966,210 residents in an area of 125 square kilometres (48 sq mi). Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely recognized as part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation. Tel Aviv and Haifa rank as Israel's next most populous cities, with populations of 467,875 and 282,832, respectively. The (mainly
Israel has 16
Largest cities in Israel
|1||Jerusalem||Jerusalem||966,210a||11||Ramat Gan||Tel Aviv||169,706|
|2||Tel Aviv||Tel Aviv||467,875||12||Ashkelon||Southern||149,160|
|4||Rishon LeZion||Central||257,128||14||Beit Shemesh||Jerusalem||141,764|
|5||Petah Tikva||Central||252,270||15||Bat Yam||Tel Aviv||126,290|
|8||Bnei Brak||Tel Aviv||212,395||18||Hadera||Haifa||100,631|
^a This number includes East Jerusalem and West Bank areas, which had a total population of 573,330 inhabitants in 2019. Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem is internationally unrecognized.
Israel's sole official language is Hebrew. Until 2018, Arabic was also one of two official languages of the State of Israel; in 2018 it was downgraded to having a 'special status in the state' with its use by state institutions to be set in law. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken every day by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority, with Hebrew taught in Arab schools.
As a country of
Israel comprises a major part of the Holy Land, a region of significant importance to all Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Samaritanism, the Druze Faith and the Baháʼí Faith.
The city of
Education is highly valued in the Israeli culture and was viewed as a
Israel has a
Israel's Jewish population maintains a relatively high level of educational attainment where just under half of all Israeli Jews (46%) hold post-secondary degrees. This figure has remained stable in their already high levels of educational attainment over recent generations.
Israel has a tradition of higher education where its quality university education has been largely responsible in spurring the nation's modern economic development.
Government and politics
Israel is a
Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the
The president of Israel is head of state, with limited and largely ceremonial duties.
Israel has no official religion, but the definition of the state as "Jewish and democratic" creates a strong connection with Judaism, as well as a conflict between state law and religious law. Interaction between the political parties keeps the balance between state and religion largely as it existed during the British Mandate.
On 19 July 2018, the Knesset passed a Basic Law that characterizes the State of Israel as principally a "Nation State of the Jewish People", and Hebrew as its official language. The bill ascribes "special status" to the Arabic language. The same bill gives Jews a unique right to national self-determination, and views the developing of Jewish settlement in the country as "a national interest", empowering the government to "take steps to encourage, advance and implement this interest."
Israel has a
Israel's legal system combines three legal traditions:
The State of Israel is divided into six main administrative districts, known as mehozot (Hebrew: מחוזות; singular: mahoz) – Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, South, and Tel Aviv districts, as well as the Judea and Samaria Area in the West Bank. All of the Judea and Samaria Area and parts of the Jerusalem and Northern districts are not recognized internationally as part of Israel. Districts are further divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (Hebrew: נפות; singular: nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural regions.
|District||Capital||Largest city||Population, 2021|
|Tel Aviv||Tel Aviv||92%||2%||1,481,400|
|Judea and Samaria Area||
- ^a Including 361,700 Arabs and 233,900 Jews in East Jerusalem, as of 2020[update].
- ^b Israeli citizens only.
This section may be too long and excessively detailed. (February 2023)
|Area||Administered by||Recognition of governing authority||Sovereignty claimed by||Recognition of claim|
|Gaza Strip||Palestinian National Authority (de jure) Controlled by Hamas (de facto)||Witnesses to the Oslo II Accord||State of Palestine||137 UN member states|
|West Bank||Palestinian enclaves||Palestinian National Authority and Israeli military|
|Area C||Israeli enclave law (Israeli settlements) and Israeli military (Palestinians under Israeli occupation)|
|East Jerusalem||Israeli administration||Honduras, Guatemala, Nauru, and the United States||China, Russia|
|West Jerusalem||Russia, Czech Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, Nauru, and the United States||United Nations as an international city along with East Jerusalem||Various UN member states and the European Union; joint sovereignty also widely supported|
|Golan Heights||United States||Syria||All UN member states except the United States|
|Israel (proper)||163 UN member states||Israel||163 UN member states|
In 1967, as a result of the
The West Bank excluding East Jerusalem is known in Israeli law as the
The Gaza Strip is considered to be a "foreign territory" under Israeli law; however, since Israel operates a land, air, and sea
The international community widely regards Israeli settlements in the occupied territories illegal under international law. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, passed on 23 December 2016 in a 14–0 vote by members of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) with the United States abstaining. The resolution states that Israel's settlement activity constitutes a "flagrant violation" of international law, has "no legal validity" and demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel's treatment of the Palestinians within the occupied territories has drawn
Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 164
In late 2020, Israel normalized relations with four more Arab countries: the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in September (known as the
Although Turkey and Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations until 1991, Turkey has cooperated with the Jewish state since its recognition of Israel in 1949. Turkey's ties to other Muslim-majority nations in the region have at times resulted in pressure from Arab and Muslim states to temper its relationship with Israel. Relations between Turkey and Israel took a downturn after the 2008–09 Gaza War and Israel's raid of the Gaza flotilla. Relations between Greece and Israel have improved since 1995 due to the decline of Israeli–Turkish relations. The two countries have a defense cooperation agreement and in 2010, the Israeli Air Force hosted Greece's Hellenic Air Force in a joint exercise at the Uvda base. The joint Cyprus-Israel oil and gas explorations centered on the Leviathan gas field are an important factor for Greece, given its strong links with Cyprus. Cooperation in the world's longest subsea electric power cable, the EuroAsia Interconnector, has strengthened relations between Cyprus and Israel.
Israel has a history of providing emergency