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Israel Geography and Population

Israel (Geography)

Israel Geography

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.

Population

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.

Israel Population

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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 2006).

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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Industries

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 low-skilled immigrants.

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 is exported.

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 rapidly.

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 passenger transport.

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 (Religion)

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 law issues.

 
 
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