[Country map of Israel]


(also see separate Gaza Strip and West Bank entries) Note: The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the data below. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations are being conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives, Syria, and Jordan to determine the final status of the occupied territories. 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.


Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon

Map references: Middle East

total area: 20,770 sq km
land area: 20,330 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than New Jersey

Land boundaries: total 1,006 km, Egypt 255 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

International disputes: separated from Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank by the 1949 Armistice Line; the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, formerly occupied by Israel, are now administered largely by the Palestinian Authority; other areas of the West Bank outside Jericho are administered jointly by Israel and the Palestinian Authority; Golan Heights is Israeli occupied; Israeli troops in southern Lebanon since June 1982

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

Natural resources: copper, phosphates, bromide, potash, clay, sand, sulfur, asphalt, manganese, small amounts of natural gas and crude oil

Land use:
arable land: 17%
permanent crops: 5%
meadows and pastures: 40%
forest and woodland: 6%
other: 32%

Irrigated land: 2,140 sq km (1989)

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
natural hazards: sandstorms may occur during spring and summer
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed, but not ratified - Climate Change, Desertification, Marine Life Conservation

Note: there are 199 Jewish settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 24 in the Gaza Strip, and 25 in East Jerusalem (August 1994 est.)


Population: 5,433,134 (July 1995 est.)
note: includes 122,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank, 14,500 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 4,800 in the Gaza Strip, and 149,000 in East Jerusalem (August 1994 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 29%
15-64 years: 61%
65 years and over: 10%

Population growth rate: 1.4% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 20.39 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.38 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 8.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.14 years
male: 76 years
female: 80.39 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.81 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli

Ethnic divisions: Jewish 82% (Israel born 50%, Europe/Americas/Oceania born 20%, Africa born 7%, Asia born 5%), non-Jewish 18% (mostly Arab) (1993 est.)

Religions: Judaism 82%, Islam 14% (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2%, Druze and other 2%

Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1992)
total population: 95%
male: 97%
female: 93%

Labor force: 1.9 million (1992)
by occupation: public services 29.3%, industry 22.1%, commerce 13.9%, finance and business 10.4%, personal and other services 7.4%, construction 6.5%, transport, storage, and communications 6.3%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 3.5%, other 0.6% (1992)


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

Digraph: IS

Type: republic

Capital: Jerusalem
note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, does not recognize this status, and 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 (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:
chief of state: President Ezer WEIZMAN (since 13 May 1993) election last held 24 March 1993 (next to be held NA March 1999); results - Ezer WEIZMAN elected by Knesset
head of government: Prime Minister Yitzhak RABIN (since NA July 1992)
cabinet: Cabinet; selected from and approved by the Knesset

Legislative branch: unicameral
parliament (Knesset): elections last held NA June 1992 (next to be held by NA 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (120 total) Labor 44, Likud 32, MERETZ 12, Tzomet 8, National Religious Party 6, SHAS 6, United Torah Jewry 4, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) 3, Moledet 3, Arab Democratic Party 2; note - in 1994 four legislators broke party ranks, resulting in the following new distribution of seats - Labor Party 44, Likud bloc 32, MERETZ 12, National Religious Party 6, SHAS 6, Tzomet 5, United Torah Jewry 4, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) 3, Moledet 2, Arab Democratic Party 2, independents 4 (1 in coalition, 3 voting with opposition)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:
members of the government: Labor Party, Prime Minister Yitzhak RABIN; MERETZ, Minister of Communications Shulamit ALONI; independent, Gonen SEGEV
not in coalition, but voting with the government: Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), Hashim MAHAMID; Arab Democratic Party, Abd al Wahab DARAWSHAH
opposition parties: Likud Party, Binyamin NETANYAHU; Tzomet, Rafael EITAN; National Religious Party, Zevulun HAMMER; United Torah Jewry, Avraham SHAPIRA; Moledet, Rehavam ZEEVI; Peace Guard (independent), Shaul GUTMAN; SHAS, Arieh DERI
note: Israel currently has a coalition government comprising 2 parties and an independent that hold 57 seats of the Knesset's 120 seats

Other political or pressure groups: Gush Emunim, Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and is critical of government's Lebanon policy


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Itamar RABINOVICH
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5610
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Martin INDYK
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 100, Tel Aviv; APO AE 09830
telephone: [972] (3) 517-4338
FAX: [972] (3) 663-449
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem

Flag: 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


Overview: Israel has a 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. Industry employs about 22% of Israeli workers, construction 6.5%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 3.5%, and services most of the rest. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains. Diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are leading exports. Israel usually posts 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 United States, which is its major source of economic and military aid. To earn needed foreign exchange, Israel has been targeting high-technology niches in international markets, such as medical scanning equipment. The influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR, which topped 450,000 during the period 1990-94, increased unemployment, intensified housing problems, and strained the government budget. At the same time, the immigrants bring to the economy valuable scientific and professional expertise.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $70.1 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 6.8% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $13,880 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 14.5% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 7.5% (1994 est.)

revenues: $42.3 billion
expenditures: $45.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $11.1 billion (FY92/93)

Exports: $16.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: machinery and equipment, cut diamonds, chemicals, textiles and apparel, agricultural products, metals
partners: US, EU, Japan

Imports: $22.5 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
commodities: military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, oil, other productive inputs, consumer goods
partners: EU, US, Japan

External debt: $25.9 billion (November 1994 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 8% (1994 est.); accounts for about 30% of GDP

capacity: 4,140,000 kW
production: 23 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 4,290 kWh (1993)

Industries: food processing, diamond cutting and polishing, textiles and apparel, chemicals, metal products, military equipment, transport equipment, electrical equipment, miscellaneous machinery, potash mining, high-technology electronics, tourism

Agriculture: citrus and other fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products

Illicit drugs: increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse and trafficking

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $18.2 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $2.8 billion

Currency: 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot

Exchange rates: new Israeli shekels (NIS) per US$1 - 3.070 (December 1994), 3.0111 (1994), 2.8301 (1993), 2.4591 (1992), 2.2791 (1991), 2.0162 (1990), 1.9164 (1989)

Fiscal year: calendar year (since 1 January 1992)


total: 520 km (diesel operated; single track)
standard gauge: 520 km 1.435-m gauge

total: 13,461 km
paved: 13,461 km

Pipelines: crude oil 708 km; petroleum products 290 km; natural gas 89 km

Ports: Ashdod, Ashqelon, Elat, Hadera, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo

Merchant marine:
total: 32 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 624,861 GRT/720,765 DWT
ships by type: cargo 7, container 22, refrigerated cargo 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1

total: 57
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 7
with paved runways under 914 m: 31
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3


Telephone system: 1,800,000 telephones; most highly developed in the Middle East although not the largest
local: NA
intercity: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay
international: 3 submarine cables; 3 INTELSAT (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 9, FM 45, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 20
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Israel Defense Forces (includes ground, naval, and air components), Pioneer Fighting Youth (Nahal), Frontier Guard, Chen (women); note - historically there have been no separate Israeli military services

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 1,309,502; females age 15-49 1,283,923; males fit for military service 1,072,501; females fit for military service 1,047,575; males reach military age (18) annually 47,950; females reach military age (18) annually 45,839 (1995 est.)
note: military service mandatory for men and women

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $6.5 billion, about 10% of GDP (1995)