Independent republic in Asia with 7.4 million inhabitants (2009 estimate) and an area of 20,770 kmē. Its capital is officially Jerusalem, but many countries are reluctant recognizing this, acting as Tel Aviv is the capital (hence most embassies are located here).
Israel is recognized as a sovereign state by most countries and has a seat in the United Nations. Yet, most neighbouring countries have not recognized Israel, exceptions are Egypt and Jordan.
In recent years, Israel has grown into one of the leading nations in technology and software production.
Israel is also the best working democracy in the Middle East, even if the constitution’s apartheid system for controlling Arabs living Israel is still unchanged and in full practice.
Is Israel a state?
Administratively is Israel divided into 6 districts, called mohoz-ot.
Day of independence is May 14, 1948, when it was formally defined as an independent state by the United Nations.
Head of state is since 2007 Shimon Peres. Prime minister since March 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu. The National Assembly is called Knesset, and has 120 members.
Israel relies very much upon winter rain in the mountains in the north and in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, as there is little rain elsewhere in the country.
Israel is far greener than rain makes it, due to clever use of the resources of the country. Israel has by far the strongest economy in the entire Middle East, as it relies upon a larger scale of incomes than the rich oil producing countries.Life
Israel does better than any other MENA country on the Human Development Index, coming in as no. 27 of the 182 states that are ranked in the world. On a scale with 1.000 as maximum, Israel gains 0.935 points.
The currency of Israel is the New Shekel (ILS), divided into 100 agorot. It is a convertible currency, but not accepted in most Middle Eastern countries from political reasons. It is stable, and has performed well compared to Western currencies over several years.
Israel has overall the best working economy among MENA countries, even if there are countries ahead on all factors. With a GDP per capita at US$28,600 (2008 estimate), the country is 170% above world average. Unemployment is at 6% and 22% of the population are below the poverty line.
Israel has the best health services and health conditions among all MENA countries. There is a slight problem of overweight.
Israel also has by far the best education system among the MENA countries, from basic education through to higher.
Israeli population may share a Jewish identity, but origins for the different Jewish groups is great importance in the society. Arabs are divided into Palestinians, Bedouins and Druze; these three groups have distinct identities.
In the matter of languages, Israel is continuously passing through stages of Hebrew assimilation. Original languages of the different Jewish communities has great sentimental value, but overall, children and grand-children adopt Hebrew and not the native language. Arabic is also important, together with English and Russian.
Judaism dominates Israel, but it comes in several shapes, and the several groups understand each other separately. Virtually all Muslims in Israel are Sunnis. There is also a great presence of Christians, and in scattered communities Druze religion.
Considering how modern the Israeli society is, fertility rates are suprisingly high for Israeli women. Population growth in Israel is quite average compared to other MENA countries.
No country in the Middle East has a more complex history than Israel. Israel first emerge as around 1000 BCE, and it is in Israel that the concepts of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, were defined. For about 1,800 years, the peoples that form today’s state were scattered all over the world before a modern state was created. Israel plays a key role in present world politics, some consider Israel to be to be beginning of the ongoing conflict between Muslims and Western countries, some consider Israel to be the first line against the extremism of Islamism.
List of Cites and Towns
By Tore Kjeilen