The Christian community in Israel continues to grow, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday ahead of Christmas, with its annual statistical update showing an increase of 3,000 persons in the population over the 2012 figure.

Some 161,000 Christians, or 2 percent of the population, live in Israel at the end of 2013, compared to 158,000 this time last year.

Just under 80% of Christians in Israel are Arab. The majority of the remaining 20% are from the former Soviet Union and were granted citizenship under the Law of Return.

The cities with the largest Christian populations are Nazareth with 22,400 Christian residents, Haifa with 14,600, Jerusalem with 11,900 and Shfaram with 9,600.

And the majority of Christian Arabs live in northern Israel, with some 71% living in the Northern District, 13% in the Haifa District, and 9.5% in the Jerusalem District.

The bureau noted that 2,610 children were born to Christian mothers in 2012 and that the average number of children per Christian woman is 2.2, compared to an average of 3.5 children for a Muslim woman, 3.0 for Jewish women and 2.3 for Druse women.

Once again, Christian pupils out-performed their non-Christian peers in obtaining their high-school graduation certificates.

In 2012, 69% of Christian pupils received their graduation certificate, compared to 61 percent of schoolchildren in the Hebrew education systems, 50% of Muslim pupils and 64% of Druse pupils.

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