The modern State of Israel was established in 1948 as a homeland for the Jewish people, but the region contains thousands of years of history for many peoples and religions in addition to the Jews. Israel is considered part of the Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories). The four major monotheistic religions — the Baha'i Faith, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — all were founded or have strong ties to here, and their holy and historic sites are major destinations for pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
The Israeli population is about 80% Jews, 19% Arab and 1% other. Most of the Jews are descended from Olim ("returnees" from the Jewish Diaspora), and their diverse origins (Russian, German, Moroccan, Yemenite, and Ethiopian, to name a few of the prominent ones) can be seen in various aspects of modern Israeli culture.
In contrast to its long ancient history, Israel is a highly urbanized, economically developed, first-world society. Unfortunately it is still in conflict with the Palestinians and some of its other Arab neighbors, and sometimes you will see signs of these tensions, but you will almost never be in danger (though there are places you should be more cautious like the West Bank).
|Currency||Israeli new shekel (ILS)|
|Population||8.6 million (2017)|
|Electricity||230 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Type H, BS 546)|
|Time zone||UTC+02:00, UTC+03:00|
|Emergencies||100 (police), 101 (Emergency medical services in Israel), 102 (fire department)|
|edit on Wikidata|
Israel's capital; a city sacred for millennia to the three Abrahamic religions (Jews, Christians and Muslims), and full of historic sites
the center of Israel's economy and modern culture. Known as the "White City" for its Bauhaus architecture, it is full of skyscrapers, beaches, markets, and nightclubs
the 'Goa of the Middle East', Israel's window on the Red Sea, a vibrant resort city
the de facto capital of the Negev region
the largest city in northern Israel, located on Mount Carmel next to the sea. Home to the Baha'i World Center (a UNESCO World Heritage site).
(Acre) – an ancient town with a historic port and the most sacred Baha'i site. Its old city on the sea is beautiful
the hometown of Jesus, now the largest Arab city in Israel
a modern resort town with an ancient background, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee
(Tzfat) – a fascinating mountaintop city filled with artists and mystics, home to ARI school of Kabbalah
a historic walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem. Tourists of different religions and nations come from around the world to visit its holy sites, which include the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the oldest port cities in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site
the home of Jesus of Nazareth and the largest freshwater lake in the country
a sea of hypersalinated water that keeps people afloat and the lowest point on Earth
an extensive inland valley, largely rural, extending inland from east of Haifa to the Jordan Valley
an arid landscape with an array of hills, canyons, and hidden historic sites
center of the Bahá'í Faith, home to the Shrine of the Báb and Terraces. located in the northern city of Haifa
Prominent national parks
high on a plateau above the Dead Sea, the scene of the Zealots' last stand against the might of Rome. A UNESCO World Heritage site.
beautiful steep canyon and a popular hiking spot
an ancient Roman and Crusader city with well-preserved remains
the core of the north Jordan River valley
a Crusader fortress located on a ridge in the eastern edge of the Galilee.
remains of a medieval fortress located in the northern Golan Heights, 800 meters above sea level.
spectacular caverns located on Israel's Mediterranean coast in the Western Galilee in the north of Israel, near the northern border with Lebanon.
Prominent nature reserves
40 km long crater-like landform in the middle of the Negev desert, the largest of three similar craters found in Israel. Offers breathtaking desert vistas.
The mountain is partly located within Israel and partly located within Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli summit of the mountain is 2,224m above sea level and is the highest location in the country. The total area of the Hermon nature reserve is 76,250 hectares. Most of the nature reserve is located within a restricted military area (except for Hermon Ski resort and the Banias springs area at the slopes of the mountain which are popular visited destination).
a forested hilly region along the Mediterranean coast, southeast of Haifa
ancient holy city in the Judean Mountains
holy site in Jerusalem
church in Jerusalem
large region in northern Israel
city in the North District of Israel
largest freshwater lake in Israel
city in northern Israel
comprised of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip
city in Israel
city in Palestine
archaeological site in Jerusalem
modern day town in Israel
city in central Israel
region in the Levant
second largest city in Israel
neighbourhoods of Jerusalem
desert and semidesert region of southern Israel
salt lake bordering Jordan and Israel
Israel's southernmost city
cave in Israel
Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 30 years. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, aircraft, high-tech defense systems, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, rubber, plastics, and textiles and services in various fields are the leading exports. Large reserves of offshore natural gas have been discovered starting in 2009.
For many years Israel posted sizable current account deficits, which were covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. However, the tight fiscal policy of recent years and the high growth rates have led Israel to a budget surplus in 2006. Roughly half of the government's foreign debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid.
Israel's economy grew rapidly in the 1990s due to immigration from the former USSR, the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, the optimism of the peace process, and the dot-com boom. However, in 2000 the combination of a second intifada and the dot-com bust led to a severe recession. Since 2004 the economy has resumed growing, and Israel was one of the world's most resilient economies during the 2008 "Great Recession". Currently, Israel has a GDP per capita similar to southern European countries like Spain and Cyprus. While the GDP is thus a bit lower than in the richer parts of Europe, cost of living - especially in big cities like Tel Aviv - is surprisingly high and there is a long-standing debate about the problem of economic emigration.
The voltage in Israel is 220V, and the frequency is 50Hz. The electric outlets used are type H and Type C. Type H is a uniquely Israeli three-pronged standard, but most modern type H outlets can also accept type C European two-pronged plugs. In fact, most electronic devices in Israel use type C plugs. For more information on plug types, please see our Electrical systems article.