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This article is about the modern state of Israel; for the ancient kingdom of Israel see Kingdom of Israel. For the Biblical person named Israel, see Jacob.

State of Israel
מדינת ישראל
Official languagesHebrew, Arabic
PresidentMoshe Katsav
Prime MinisterAriel Sharon
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 149th
20,770 km2
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 99th
IndependenceMay 15, 1948
Currency1 New Sheqel (NIS) = 100 Agorot
Time zoneUTC +2/+3
National anthemHatikvah
Internet TLD.IL
Calling Code972

The State of Israel is a state in the Middle East with a predominantly Jewish population, located to the north-west of Saudi Arabia and bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is a geographically small country, but has a population of over six million.

Israel's 1948 founding and continued existence has been a source of many conflicts with its neighbouring countries, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Israel is also currently experiencing an on-going dispute with Palestinian territorial claims.

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Israel is a country whose exact territorial boundaries and borders are widely disputed and contested.

The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference[?] in October 1991, bilateral negotiations are being conducted between Israeli and Palestinian representatives (from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Israel and Syria, to achieve a permanent settlement. On April 25, 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

History Main Article History of Israel

Israel's history is both long and controversial.

Israel is considered the spiritual home of many Jews, and for many years there had been a strong desire to see the creation of a "Jewish State" in the reigon. The Modern day nation of Israel was established in 1948 after the British government agreed to withdraw from their mandate of Palestine. On May 14 the State of Israel was proclaimed (see: Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948).


Though a relatively young nation, Israeli history has been dominated by numerous wars. These include:

Politics Main Article Politics of Israel

Israel is a constitutional, parliamentary republic. The nation's Head of State is the President, who is a largely powerless figurehead. The nation's head of government is the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party or ruling coilition in the legislature. Israel's legislative branch is a 120-member parliament known as the Knesset. Elections to the Knesset are normally held every four years, but the Knesset can decide to dissolve itself ahead of time by a simple majority.

Israel has no written constitution and its government functions based on the laws of the Knesset and constitutional conventions[?].

Economy Main article: Economy of Israel

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 20 years. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains. Diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR topped 750,000 during the period 1989-1999, bringing the population of Israel from the former Soviet Union to 1 million, one-sixth of the total population, and adding scientific and professional expertise of substantial value for the economy's future. The influx, coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, energized Israel's economy, which grew rapidly in the early 1990s. But growth began slowing in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out. Those policies brought inflation down to record low levels in 1999.

See also: Land of Israel, Palestine, Ancient kingdom of Israel, Judaism, Holy Land

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