Brief information about the country: location, map, population, regions, sights, how to come to Israel, help (political structure, economy, holidays, history).
Geography and population
The official name is the State of Israel. The country is located in the South-West of Asia. In the north it borders with Lebanon, in the northeast with Syria, in the east with Jordan and the West Bank of the Jordan River, in the southwest with Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The territory of the country is washed by the waters of three seas: the Mediterranean – in the west, the Dead – in the east, the Red – in the south. The capital is Jerusalem.
The relief of Israel is formed by the mountain ranges of the Galilee region, the Carmel mountains and the Golan heights in the north, the Arava deserts – to the south of the Dead Sea, the Negev – in the south and the Jordan valley in the central part.
Israel has a subtropical climate with areas of tropical dry and temperate, in the west – Mediterranean. The average January temperature is from -6 ºС to +18 ºС, July – + 24-30 ºС. Precipitation falls mainly from November to March.
The population in 2010 was more than 7.5 million. The ethnic composition is dominated by Jews – 75.5%. Other nationalities include Arabs (20.4%), Druze, and others. The official languages are Hebrew, Arabic.
More than half of the population professes Judaism, 16.5% of Israelis identify themselves as Muslims, 2.1% – Christians. A small part of the inhabitants profess Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions.
The currency of Israel is shekel. Time is two hours behind Moscow time in winter and one hour in summer.
What to see in Israel
Due to the unique geographical position of Israel, travelers have the opportunity in the shortest possible time to visit the three seas – the Mediterranean, Red and Dead. The first two are popular as great places for a beach holiday, the latter is known for its healing properties.
For people of faith, the main city of Israel is Jerusalem. Here are the shrines of three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, including the famous Wailing Wall.
More information about the cities and sights of Israel – in the article “Regions of Israel . ” You can familiarize yourself with the situation on the country’s real estate market in our “Real Estate Market Review” .
How to get there
The quickest and easiest way to get to Israel is by air. Regular and charter flights are carried out by Transaero, Russia, Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, S7, El Al Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, airBaltic. Flights are operated from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and a number of other cities. Israel’s airports are located in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat and other cities.
Israeli political structure
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic. The head of state is a president elected for seven years. The president is elected by the Knesset, the highest legislative body. This is a unicameral parliament, consisting of one hundred and twenty deputies. The government – the central executive body – is headed by the prime minister. The highest legislative body is the Supreme Court (Supreme Court of Justice).
Israel is a member of the following international organizations: UN (1949), Union of the Mediterranean, OECD (2010).
The territory of Israel consists of six administrative districts, divided into fifty subdistricts, which are divided into districts.
In 2009, Israel’s GDP was $ 205 billion. It is one of the most developed countries in Southeast Asia. The country is a world leader in water conservation and geothermal energy technologies. The country is known for its advanced technologies in software, telecommunications, as well as research in the natural sciences. Stone and table salt, bromine, phosphate rock, oil, etc. are being mined.
In agriculture, livestock dominates – meat and dairy. The significant role played by the cultivation of citrus fruits, vegetables and cotton. Israel’s own agricultural sector provides 95% of its food. An important role is played by tourism. Every year the country is visited by more than two million people.
The most well-known companies in Israel are Israel Corporation, Elron Electronic Industries, Bezeq International (telecommunications), Hevrat Hashmal (energy), Taasiya Avirit (aircraft industry).
If you are interested in starting your own business in this country, refer to the section “Business in Israel” .
Public holidays (weekends)
One day between March 26 and April 25 is Passover (Easter).
One day between April 1 and May 1 is the Seventh Day of Easter.
One day between April 15 and May 15 is Independence Day.
One day between May 15 and June 15 is Shavuot (the Feast of the Giving of the Torah).
One day between September 5 and October 5 – New Year.
One day between September 14 and October 14 is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
One day between September 19 and October 19 – Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
History of israel
The first Hebrew tribes appeared on the territory of modern Israel around 1200 BC. At the end of the XI-mid X century BC. there are the first state formations – Israel, and later the kingdom of Judah. Starting from the 8th century BC the territory was under the rule of Assyria (the state in the territory of modern Iraq), Babylon, Persians, Macedonians, and Hellenistic states. The uprising against the Greeks led to the conquest of independence from the Greeks for the period 152-37 BC.
Since 63 AD Judea becomes first a vassal, then a province of Rome. Due to the constant uprisings, the Romans expelled a large number of Jews from these lands and renamed the territory Palestine Syria. In 614, Palestine was conquered by the Persians, but after the victory of the Romans over the Persians in 629, this territory again came under the authority of the Roman Empire, namely Byzantium.
For the next six centuries, from 638 to 1099, Palestine was under Muslim rule. In 1099, as a result of the arrival of the crusaders, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, a Christian state formation, emerged. However, in 1187, the famous Egyptian Arab commander Salah ad-Din took Jerusalem, and in 1291 the last stronghold of the crusaders fell – the fortress of Akra.
In 1516 a long period of Ottoman rule began, which lasted until 1917. The Jews enjoyed relative civil and religious freedom, however, they were not allowed to carry arms and serve in the army, they were subject to special taxes.
In 1799 Napoleon invades Palestine. Despite a number of successful conquests, the French were subsequently forced to retreat. In 1832, Egypt conquered this territory, and a series of reforms were being carried out following the European model. However, the rule of the Egyptians was short – only eight years. In 1841, Palestine returned under Turkish control.
In 1881-1882, the first wave of modern immigration (First Aliyah) was celebrated, when Jews were forced to flee from Eastern Europe to their historic homeland, Palestine. The founder of Zionism (the Jewish national movement aimed at uniting the Jewish people in their historic homeland) was Theodor Herzl, a Jewish public and political figure. The second wave occurred in the years 1910-1914 after the Kishinev pogrom in the Russian Empire.
Since 1918, Palestine was under British rule. This period ended only in 1948, when, according to the UN plan for the partition of Palestine, the country’s territory was divided into two parts – Jewish (State of Israel) and Arab. The rejection of the plan by the Arabs caused the Arab-Israeli War (War of Independence). In 1949, the State of Israel was recognized as a member of the UN.
In the next half century, Israel, in order to protect its territory, took part in the following military conflicts with its neighbors: the Suez Crisis (1956), the Six-Day War (1967), the War of attrition (1967-1970), the Doomsday War (1973 year), the Lebanese war (1982), the Second Lebanon war (2006), the operation “Cast lead” (2008-2009).