Israel is a country in the Levant region of the Middle East, in Western Asia by the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean to the west. Israel was established as a state in 1948, becoming the first and only predominantly Jewish state in the modern era.
Israel has a population of nearly 9 million (2018). Of these 9 million, approximately 75% are Jewish, 20% are Arab, and 5% belong to other ethnic minorities. The most widely spoken languages in the country are Hebrew and Arabic, though Russian, French, and English are widely spoken as well.
Israel is quite small geographically - its territory covers about 21,000 square kilometers (8,100 square miles). Despite its size, its topography is varied, ranging from a dry desert climate to mountains and forests. Israel has four distinct geographic regions: the Negev Desert, the Great Rift Valley, the Mediterranean coastal valley, and the mountainous regions in the north. The Dead Sea, the lowest dry-land point on Earth, is on the border between Israel and Jordan.
Jerusalem, Israel’s declared though internationally-disputed capital, houses the country’s government buildings. Israel is a democratic republic with a 120-seat parliament (called the Knesset), a prime minister who is head of government and a president whose job is largely ceremonial. Upon its establishment Israel declared itself both Jewish and Democratic.
Israel was established in order to be a “safe haven” for the Jewish people. In the years subsequent to its establishment it received an influx of Jewish immigrants and refugees from war-torn Europe and various countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Though originally established as a state with socialist values, the right-winged Likud party has now been in power for over forty years, since former prime minister Menahem Begin took office in 1977.
The judicial system in Israel is three-tiered, with the Supreme Court being the top-standing authority on most cases. Religious courts have complete jurisdiction over annulment of marriages.
Israel started off as an isolated entity in the predominantly Arab-Muslim Middle East. In 1979, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, and in 1994 it signed one with Jordan. Though ties between Israel and much of the Arab world remain hostile, its relationships with countries such as Saudi Arabia have been improving in recent years as the common Iranian threat improves cooperation between the countries.
The United States is Israel’s strongest ally. Relations between the two countries have remained relatively constant since Israel’s establishment, with both countries prioritizing the relationship regardless of which administrations are in office.
Israel has been in an ongoing conflict with its Palestinian neighbors for decades. It spends a large proportion of its budget on security and defense, and the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is the largest and strongest military in the Middle East. Israel has a mandatory military draft for most 18-year-old Israeli men and women.
Israel has earned itself the nickname “Startup nation” due to the multitude of high-tech companies and scientific startups within its borders.`
Israel, Finland launch digital health collaboration initiative
Both Israel and Finland are recognized as world leaders in the field of healthcare technology.
Far-right demands Education or Justice portfolio
Smotrich said he would not accept the Construction portfolio
Meet the new MK: Heba Yazbak of UAL-Balad
Yazbak hopes to fight poverty in the Arab sector and “act for the national liberation of the Palestinians.”
GRAPEVINE: Way to go, Shalva
Movers and shakers in and around Israel.
Beating his own drum: Eden Bahar makes it to a World Record
The Israeli musician made world history by spinning his drumstick 149 times in one minute.
Police bust Palestinian illegal weapons trade in West Bank
Over the last few months, an under cover police officer carried has out an operation in the West Bank against Palestinians that sold weapons, which could reach into Israeli areas
Politicians call for West Bank sovereignty, tripling number of Hebron Jews
Hebron’s Jewish community, which numbers less than 1,000 people, estimated that some 35,000 people visited the Jewish areas of the city, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The Lounge: TAU for youth
The Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), which is celebrating 25 years since its establishment, inaugurated a new building on its campus.
Renen Schorr to step down as head of Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School
This year, the school is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a series of tributes and homages in Israel and around the world.
URP issues demands to Likud
The list of demands includes four portfolios for URP co-chairmen Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich.