Israel Travel Guide
Island Trips Middle East offers travel tips and information for top travel places and best destinations. We feature links, resources and large selection of budget airlines, chartered planes, sea cruises, ferries, travel agencies, land transports and attractions including beaches, medical tourism, retirement homes, historical and pilgrimage tours.
As of 2009, Israel's population is 7.5 million, Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab lands (by 2002 these Jews and their descendants constituted about 40% of Israel's population). As of 2008, Arab citizens of Israel comprise just over 20% of the country's total population.
Many Israelis communicate reasonably well in English, as many television programs are in English and English is taught from the early grades in elementary school. As a country of immigrants, many languages can be heard on the streets. Due to mass immigration from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia (some 120,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel) Russian and Amharic are widely spoken. Between 1990 and 1994, the Russian immigration increased Israel's population by twelve percent. Out of more than one million Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel, about 300,000 are considered gentile by the Orthodox rabbinate, because, under the Orthodox interpretation, Jewishness is transmitted only through mothers. Over the last decade, large numbers of migrant workers from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa and South America have settled in Israel. Exact figures are unknown as many of them are living in the country illegally, but estimates run in the region of 200,000. Over 16,000 African asylum seekers have entered Israel in recent years.
Retention of Israel's population since 1948 is about even or greater, when compared to other countries with mass immigration. Emigration from Israel (yerida) to other countries, primarily the United States and Canada, is described by demographers as modest, but is often cited by Israeli government ministries as a major threat to Israel's future.
As of 2009 over 300,000 Israeli citizens live in West Bank settlements such as Ma'ale Adumim and Ariel, and communities that predated the establishment of the State but were re-established after the Six-Day War, in cities such as Hebron and Gush Etzion. 18,000 Israelis live in the Golan Heights. In 2006, there were 250,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem. The total number of Israeli settlers is over 500,000 (6.5% of the Israeli population). Approximately 7,800 Israelis lived in settlements in the Gaza Strip until they were evacuated by the government as part of its 2005 disengagement plan.
Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referred to as the Jewish state. The country's Law of Return grants all Jews and those of Jewish lineage the right to Israeli citizenship. Just over three quarters, or 75.5%, of the population are Jews from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds. Approximately 68% of Israeli Jews are Israeli-born, 22% are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 10% are immigrants from Asia and Africa (including the Arab World).
I still make sure to go, at least once every year, to a country where things cannot be taken for granted, and where there is either too much law and order or too little. Christopher Hitchens
“Everyone carries his own inch rule of taste, and amuses himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels. Henry Adams