General info about Israel

Location: Israel is located in the Middle East, along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. It lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Geography: Long and narrow in shape, the country is about 290 miles (470 km) in length and 85 miles (135 km) in width at its widest point. Although small in size, Israel have the varied topographical features of an entire continent – ranging from forested highlands to fertile green valleys to mountains and deserts. Approximately half of the country’s land area is semi-arid. Technology: The creative and diverse Israelis have strong determination to push past the boundaries of possibility and facing challenges head-on. It is no wonder that Israel is now the world’s leading innovation country with the highest number of startups in the world, earning it the title “Start-Up Nation”. Religions: This is the center of the world’s three great monotheistic faiths: The Promise Land of milk and honey to the Jews, the scene of Christ’s Ministry, Crucifixion and Resurrection to the Christians, and to the Muslims, the site of the prophetMohammad’s night ascent to heaven. Climate: Israel’s climateis characterized by much sunshine, with a rainy season from November to April. Total annual precipitation ranges from 20-30 inches (50-70 cm) in the north to about an inch (2.5 cm) in the far south. Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters,with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south. Flora and Fauna: The rich variety of Israel’s plant and animallife reflects its geographical location as well as its varied topography and climate. Over 500 kinds of birds, some 200 mammal and reptile species,and 2,600 plant types (150 of which are endemicto Israel) are found within its borders.Over 150 nature reserves and 65 national parks, encompassing nearly 400 squaremiles (almost 1,000 sq. km), have been established throughout the country.

Water: The scarcity of water in the region has generated intense efforts to maximize the use of the available supplyand to seek new resources. In the 1960s, Israel’sfreshwater sources were joined in an integrated grid whose main artery, the National Water Carrier, brings water from the north and centerto the semi-arid south. Ongoingprojects for utilizing new sources include cloud seeding, recycling of sewage water, and the desalination of seawater. Population: Israel is a country of immigrants. Its 9.1 million inhabitants comprise a mosaic of people with varied ethnicbackgrounds, lifestyles, religions, cultures, and traditions. Today Jews comprise some 76% of the country’s population, while the country’s non-Jewish citizens, mostly Arabs, number about 24%. Lifestyle: About 92% of Israel’sinhabitants live in some 200 urban centers,some of which are located on ancient historical sites. About 5% are members of unique rural cooperative settlements – the kibbutz and the moshav. Moshav: A unique type of cooperative farmer’s village invented in Israel in the early 1900s. The members of the Moshav enjoy relatively large economic autonomy while still benefiting from communal assistance. Kibbutz: A uniqueform of collective community based on socialist ideology and the promotion of the Zionist idea. Members of a Kibbutz areusually a close-knit group with sharedproperty, labor, and the provision for all the needs of its members.

Main Cities: 1. Jerusalem, Israel’s capital (population 900,000), has stood at the center of the Jewish people’s national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdomsome 3000 yearsago. Today it is a flourishing, vibrant metropolis, the seat of the government, and Israel’s largest city. 2. Tel Aviv-Yafo (population 440,000), whichwas founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in moderntimes, is today the centerof the country’s industrial, commercial, financial, and cultural life. 3. Haifa (population 280,000), a known coastaltown since ancienttimes, is a major Mediterranean port and the industrial and commercial center of northern Israel. 4. Be’er Sheva (population 207,000), named in the Bible as an encampment of the patriarchs, is today the largest urban center in the south. It provides administrative, economic, health, education and social services for the entire southern region. System of Government: Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The head of state is the president, whose duties are mostly ceremonial and formal; the office symbolizes the unity and sovereignty of the state. The Knesset, Israel’slegislative authority, is a 120-member unicameral parliament which operates in plenary session and through 15 standing committees. Its members are elected every fouryears in universal nationwide elections. The government (cabinet of ministers) is chargedwith administering internaland foreign affairs. It is headed by a prime minister and is collectively responsible to the Knesset.

Education and Science: School attendance is mandatory from age five, and free through age 18. Almost all three-years-olds and four-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program. Israel’s institutions of higher education include universities, offering a wide range of subjects in science and humanities, and serving as research institutions of worldwide reputed colleges providing academic courses and vocational schools. The country’s high level of scientific research and development and the application of R&D compensate for the country’s lack of natural resources. Health: The National HealthInsurance Law, in effect from January 1995, provides for a standardized basketof medical services, including hospitalization, for all residents of Israel. All medical services continue to be supplied by the country’s four health care organizations. Life expectancyis 82.2 years for women and 78.5 years for men; the infant mortality rate is 4 per 1,000 live births. The ratio of physicians to population and the number of specialists compare favorably with those in most developed countries. Social