Israel

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 6.8
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 92%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.6%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 21,060



Main Cities Population
Jerusalem 729 100
Tel Aviv 382 500
Haifa 267 000
Rishon Leziyyon 221 500
Ashdod 203 300
Beer Sheva 185 300



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Official language: Hebrew.
The spoken languages are: Hebrew, Arabic, English, French and Russian.

Free translation tools

Babylon
Free English-Hebrew-English dictionary





Religion
Religious practises : Jews 82.1%
Sunni Muslims 10.2%
Shiite Muslims 3.8%
Christians 2.2%
Others 1.7%


Political context

Israel (official name: State of Israel) is nation-state based on parliamentary democracy, besides a military administration in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is the world's only Jewish state.
President is the chief of the state and is elected by country’s parliament for a seven-year term. President’s role is largely ceremonial. The President selects the leader of the majority party or ruling coalition in the parliament as the Prime Minister to serve a four-year term. Prime Minister is the head of the government and enjoys the executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. The cabinet is selected by the Prime Minister and approved by the parliament.  
The legislature in Israel is unicameral. The parliament consists of 120 members elected by a popular vote to serve four-year terms. The parliament can decide to dissolve itself ahead of time by a simple majority through a vote of no-confidence. Prime Minister cannot dissolve the parliament directly nor can veto its enactment .The people of Israel enjoy considerable political rights.
Judiciary is largely independent and the procedural safeguards are normally respected. Israel does not have a written constitution. Some of the functions of the constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament, and the Israeli citizenship law. The legal system is a mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and in case of personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim laws. Israel no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The judicial language in the country is Hebrew; Arabic is also used officially for Arab minority of the country.
Israel is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can largely expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. Though there is some degree of corruption in the country (especially in political circles) but it is still under control.


Major political parties

Israel's political system is based on proportional representation which allows for a multi-party system with numerous parties, in which a single party usually has no chance of gaining power by itself, forcing the parties to cooperate and form coalition governments. The major political parties in the country are:
- Kadima Party - a centrist party, favours fixing Israeli borders with prospective Palestinian state;
- Labour Party – a centre-left, Zionist political party;
- Likud Party – nationalist, right-wing having roots in the Zionist movement;
- Shas Party – advocates ultra-orthodox Judaism.


Major political leaders

President: Moshe KATZAV (since July 2000) – Likud Party
Prime Minister: Ehud OLMERT (since May 2006) - Kadima Party, leading a coalition government


Next political election dates

Presidential: Middle of the year 2007
Parliamentary: Year 2010




Climate

 

 

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Israel 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 1,506 1,903 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites

- Nazareth: numerous religious monuments (Nazareans' church)
- Tel Aviv and Jaffa: Bat Yam esplanade, Bialik museum, beaches
- Jerusalem: Via Dolorosa, the museum of Islamic Art, David's tower, the Wall of Lamentations
- Akko: Persian garden, Turkish aqueduct
- the Dead Sea (Masada's park).

For more information about tourism in Israel , check out the following web site(s) :
Israel Ministry of Tourism
Informations portal on tourism in Israel



Food


Traditional dishes
The israeli food is very close to the Middle East food. The dishes are usually quite spicy. The Israeli food is also partially inspired from Central Europe's recipes.
The Caviar of eggplant
Baba ghannouï: purée of eggplant with lemon juice. It is traditionally served in a plate or in a special hors d'oeuvres dish, splashed with olive oil, some chopped onion and chiselled parsley as a starter with pita bread
Taratour: sesame sauce. The taratour is usually served with oven cooked fish, and fried vegetables. It is essential for the preparation of the purée of chickpeas (hummus) or the purée of eggplant (baba ghannouï).


Food-related taboos
Eating pork is prohibited and the food has to be kosher.

Last modified on December 2006

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