Israel Country Overview
Where is Israel located? The State of Israel is located in the Middle East. On the time zone map, which divides the world into regions according to their time difference from the coordinated world time, it can be seen that Israel is in the same world time zone as e.g. Egypt and many other states lies. Thus, the time difference between the international world clock (also called UTC) and the time zone in which Israel is located is 2 hours. Israel is 2 hours ahead of world time. In summer, however, the time is changed to summer time there (as in European countries), so the difference then changes to 3 hours.
As of 2023, the latest population of Israel is 8,675,475, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate||1.46%|
|Birth rate||18.10 births per 1,000 people|
|Overall life expectancy||81.17 years|
|Men life expectancy||78.96 years|
|Women life expectancy||83.49 years|
|65 years and above||11.55%|
|Median age||29.60 years|
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)||1.01|
|Population density||417.69 residents per km²|
|80% Jews and others, 20% Israeli Arabs|
|Jews 80.1%; Muslims 14.6% (mainly Sunnis); Christians 2.1%; Other 3.2% (1996 est.)|
|Human Development Index (HDI)||0.906|
|HDI ranking||22nd out of 194|
People in Israel
Israel is a small country, not only in terms of area, but also in terms of population. About 9.1 million people live in Israel, much fewer than in neighboring countries. 70 out of 100 people are originally from Europe and Russia, 20 out of 100 are Arabs and some come from Ethiopia, Morocco, the United States and other countries. 6.3 million are Jews and 1.9 million are Arabs. But what does that mean?
Who are the Palestinians anyway?
We are talking about Israelis, who are mostly of Jewish faith, but can also be of Muslim or Christian faith. But who are the Palestinians? Where do they live and where do they come from?
Descendants of the people who have always lived in Israel
Palestinians are originally the Arabic-speaking residents who lived in Palestine, which Great Britain received as a League of Nations mandate in 1920. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, but there never was a state called “Palestine”. For a long time, Israel took the position that there was no Palestinian people of their own.
Today all see themselves as Palestinians who live in the Palestinian Territories in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as those who have fled to other countries in the world. Often they also live as refugees in the neighboring countries of Israel.
The Palestinians are demanding their own state. Most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, but there are also Christian and members of the Orthodox Church. Druze and Bedouins speak Arabic, but they are not Palestinians, but belong to their own ethnic group.
West Bank and Gaza Strip
Israel was founded in 1948 as a state of the Jews. But there were many more Arabs than Jews living here. They also wanted their own state. They were against the settlement of Jews and wanted to stay in their homeland. War broke out between Israel and its neighboring states. In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, among others. Many of the Arabs living there fled.
Between 1987 and 1993 war broke out between the Palestinians and the Israeli army, which eventually ended with the West Bank and Gaza being awarded to the Palestinians. Together they form the Palestinian Territories.
Who is the PLO?
In 1964 an organization was founded to campaign for the freedom of Palestine. This Palestine Liberation Organization is also abbreviated to PLO. The PLO consists of several groups, some of which have different goals, the best known group is Fatah. For many years the name of the PLO was associated with that of a man named Yasser Arafat. He was chairman of the PLO until his death in 2004.
Initially, the PLO fought as a terrorist organization and carried out attacks in order to fight for its goal. But in 1974 it was recognized as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians. In 1993, in return, the PLO recognized Israel as a state in the hope of being able to found its own state in the remaining Palestinian territories.
What is the role of Hamas?
As the founding of their own state became ever more distant, radical forces gained more and more power. This includes above all Hamas. You don’t belong to the PLO. There have been many attempts to include them, but these attempts have always failed. Hamas has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood founded in Egypt. She wants to establish a state for the Palestinians by violent means and does not shy away from terror.
With or without violence
The division of the Palestinians into the moderate group of Fatah, which also includes the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, and the radical group of Hamas, which does not shy away from terror, is blocking the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas ‘government in the West Bank is recognized by the West and Israel, while Hamas’ government in Gaza is not. But the Palestinians only see the standstill and are often desperate because nothing has changed in their poor living conditions. There is a risk that young Palestinians will turn to radical groups. Do you believe that they would do better for your future. But the violence encourages new violence.
So it will depend on the local young people how the development continues. However, we must not forget the major political situation, because the influence of the United States on further development should not be underestimated. And whether the decisions of President Trump strengthen the peace efforts or add fuel to the fire, everyone has to judge for themselves.
Languages in Israel
For a long time the official languages were Hebrew AND Arabic. However, Hebrew has not been the only official language since mid-2018. Of course, Arabic will continue to be spoken, but Arabic is no longer an official language.
Since many immigrants are from Russia, Russian is also widely spoken. Most Israelis – especially the young and urban people – understand English. Israelis attach great importance to schooling, which is why many also speak English. If you travel to Israel, you can communicate well in English, especially in the cities. There are also street signs in English. In the country things can look completely different, here there are also people who neither understand nor speak English. But anyone who travels through Israel will quickly find that most of them try to understand tourists and to help them, because the Israelis, whether Jews, Muslims or Christians, are a very hospitable nation.
Religions in Israel
Many different groups live in Israel
In our perception, Israel is the state of the Jews. On the one hand, that’s true, but it’s not enough as a description. Because the population of Israel consists of many different groups, although the Jewish population actually makes up the largest part. But there are also many Arabs living in Israel, some of whom are also citizens of Israel. Furthermore, not all Arabs are necessarily Muslims; there are also Christian Arabs or the Druze or Bedouin group. Other minorities also live in Israel.
Every Jew is allowed to come to Israel
If you put this in numbers, 75 out of 100 people in Israel are Jewish. Thus, Israel is the only state in the world in which the majority of the population consists of Jews. Every Jew, no matter where he lives in the world, is allowed to come to Israel and settle there.
Within the Jewish population, a distinction is made between Ashkenazim, the immigrants from Europe and America, the Sephardim, the Jews who immigrated from today’s Spain and Portugal and the Misrachim who come from the Middle East or North Africa. Then there is the Beta Israel, who come from Ethiopia, and the Tzabar. These were born in Israel and do not belong to any of the other groups.
What does orthodox actually mean?
Even if so many Jews live in Israel, that doesn’t mean that all of them strictly live the Jewish faith. Many Israelis are of Jewish faith, but not necessarily strictly religious. Orthodox Jews are called orthodox. About 20 out of 100 Jews live the Orthodox faith.
This group influences political decisions and people’s daily lives. In the case of particularly devout Jews, the men wear a black suit, a black hat and often a forelock. Women cover their hair. The strictly Orthodox Jews make up only a small part of the population: about six out of 100 people are so strict. Well, the transitions are sometimes fluid, so the numbers are not exact, but the order of magnitude is correct. The number of Jews with Orthodox faith is also increasing, because many Orthodox have more children than non-Orthodox Israelis.
Many Israelis – especially the younger ones – live modern lives
Most Jews, however, live their beliefs and their traditions more or less strictly. Many Jews are critical of the strictly Orthodox faith, especially with a view to the consequences that this form of faith has for Israeli politics.
Who are the Arab Israelis?
There are also many Arabs in Israel who are Israeli citizens. So they are Israelis, but not Jews, but Muslims or other beliefs. They came here when Palestine was under the League of Nations mandate, did not flee in the wars that Israel waged or are descendants of the Arabs who have always lived on what is now Israel.
Minorities in Israel
Israel is unique in the world because three of the great world regions have their origin here: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each of the three religions regards the land as sacred. This has led to conflicts in the past that continue to the present day.
But there is also a Christian minority living in Israel and spread over the whole country. They too are mostly Arabs. Other groups who also live in Israel are the Samaritans, the Circassians, Armenians, followers of the Baha’i religion and immigrants from Africa. People from Asia who have found work in Israel also live here, as well as some Sinti and Roma.