About Israel

General Information

Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem. Within its Old City, the Temple Mount complex includes the Dome of the Rock shrine, the historic Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchers. Israel’s financial hub, Tel Aviv, is known for its Bauhaus architecture and beaches.

Population

The Israel population is 7,412,200

Political Structure

Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic with universal suffrage. A member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime minister—usually this is the chair of the largest party. The prime minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties, with a 3.25% electoral threshold, which in practice has resulted in coalition governments. Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset can dissolve a government earlier.

Infrastructure and Economy

Israel is considered the most advanced country in Southwest Asia and the Middle East in economic and industrial development. Israel’s quality university education and the establishment of a highly motivated and educated populace is largely responsible for spurring the country’s high technology boom and rapid economic development. In 2010, it joined the OECD. The country is ranked 24th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and 52nd on the World Bank’s Doing Business index. It has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world after the United States, and the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China. In 2016, Israel ranked 21st among the world’s most competitive nations, according to the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook. Israel was also ranked 4th in the world by share of people in high-skilled employment.

Languages

Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic.

Currency

New shekel

Exchange Controls

Israel does not have exchange controls