The natural conditions, despite the limited extent of the country, are
extremely varied. To the south is the Negev Desert with a very scattered
population, while the Mediterranean coast has a belt up to 40 km wide with
fertile agricultural land. From here, the terrain rises to the east up to
approximately 1000 m and then falls abruptly down towards the Jordan Valley and the
Dead Sea; geologically, this region is a continuation of the East African
Tomb, Rift Valley.
Israel is a dry land; the insufficient rainfall falls especially in winter
and especially in the northeastern mountains. Large sums of money are invested
in research and facilities to secure water supply, including pipelines from the
northeast to the agricultural areas along the coast, development of water-saving
irrigation techniques, treatment and recycling of wastewater, desalination of
brackish water and savings in industry and households.
Large parts of Israel are extremely densely populated, while the Negev in
particular has only a few settlements; in total, the population density is 250
per. km2, which is twice that of Denmark. More than any other
country in the world, Israel is characterized by recent immigration; more than
2 1/2 million. immigrants have arrived since 1948. In
the same period, however, 700,000 have left the country. The population is still
quite young, and the birth rate is higher than in most other developing
countries, just as the death rate is low. Life expectancy is at land level and
is higher than in the Middle East in general.
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population pyramid and resident density about this country.
The ethnic and religious composition of the population is dominated by Jewish
immigration. 82% are Jews and 15% Muslims, while the rest are Druze and
Christian minorities. 282,000 Jewish settlers are in the occupied West Bank,
18,000 in the Golan Heights and 180,000 in East Jerusalem (all figures from
The most influential population group is Jews who immigrated from Europe and
their descendants. The vast majority of these Ashkenazim are from
Eastern Europe, and some of them came to Palestine before the establishment of
the State of Israel. The other large group of Jews, the Sephardim,
come predominantly from Africa and Asia, including the rest of the Middle
East. This group has been numerically larger than the Ashkenazis since the
1960's, but is permanently under-represented in society's leading positions, not
least in the political system. Also economically, they are inferior to
ashkenazim. The lowest standard of living is generally the non-Jewish groups,
especially the Arabs.
Israel is an extremely urbanized society, but without giant cities. Only
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv area has more than 1/2 million. The
majority of the population lives in small and medium-sized cities. A special
factor in the settlement and an important part of Israel's ideological
foundation are the kibbutzim, socialist-inspired collectives,
originally in agricultural production, but since the 1980's also with various
industries. There are 200-300 kibbutzim with a total of approximately 130,000 residents.
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Occupation pattern similar to that found in other industrialized countries
with 2/3 in the tertiary sector, 1/4 in
manufacturing and only a few per cent. in agriculture. At the same time as
continued large-scale immigration, the economy is growing steadily, and
unemployment has been falling and is relatively low.
Agriculture has developed into an intensive, irrigated farm using advanced
technology. Agricultural policy has strengthened a trend towards
self-sufficiency in basic food and specialized export production (including
citrus fruits and watermelons), but also towards being able to absorb
The industry is characterized by small and medium-sized enterprises. One
third can be described as high-tech production, and some are highly specialized
with e.g. the diamond industry as an important item. Important industries
include cellulose, petrochemicals and electronics. 30% of industrial production
The public sector is growing with many employees in health and
education. The financial sector is also growing; it is based on extensive
cooperation between the private and public sectors. In addition, Israel has
invested in the field of communications, which is highly developed and growing
Despite continued unrest, also during the peace process in the 1990's, tourism
is growing; in 1996 came 2.2 million. tourists to the country. However, the
income does not have a significant impact on the economy in the past, and at the
same time, Israeli tourism abroad has grown significantly.
The infrastructure is very well developed with the main emphasis on an
extensive road network between all major cities. There are bus routes
everywhere, while the railways play a minor, albeit increasing, role in
Resources and environment
In the Negev Desert there are large resources of raw phosphate, but otherwise
the country is poor in minerals. Southwest of the Dead Sea there are a few oil
fields, but production is small.
Israel faces significant ecological problems. First and foremost with the
water supply, which for 60-70% is used by intensively cultivated agriculture,
but also problems after deforestation, air pollution and fertilizer and
pesticide residues in the scarce groundwater resources. Both flora and fauna are
rich in species, and with its location in the border area between the
distribution of northern and southern bird species and on important migratory
routes, Israel contains a large number of bird sites of international
importance. Significant efforts are being made to preserve the original
nature; 300 nature reserves cover approximately 1600 km2.
Israel - language
Israel's official language is in addition to Hebrew dominating,
also Arabic. The country is largely characterized by bilingualism or
multilingualism; of immigrant languages can thus be
mentioned Yiddish and Judesmo (Ladino) as well as a number of languages from
Europe and the former Soviet Union, especially Russian. Arabic is spoken by the
Palestinian people in Israel and the West Bank.
Israel maintains complete religious freedom, but the Jewish foundation of the
state gives itself expressed in the fact that the Sabbath and other Jewish
holidays are also national holidays. 75.4% of the population are Jews, 16.9% are
Muslims, 2.1% are Christians and 1m7% Druze (2011). One-fifth of the Jewish
population is Orthodox, following the religious Jewish law, halakah. From this
group, the members are brought to the Israeli chief rabbinate. Israel's Arab
population is Muslim or Christian and has its own courts for dealing with family