Magazine article Geographical

Country File

Magazine article Geographical

Country File

Article excerpt

Official name: State of Israel

Capital: Jerusalem

Population: 5.9 million

Currency: new shekel

Climate: summers are hot and dry. The wet season is between November and March, when then weather is mild


Summers are hot and dry. The wet season is between November and March, when then weather is mild


Large numbers of Jewish immigrants settled in Palestine before Israel was founded in 1948. Sephardic Jews from the Middle East and Mediterranean are in the majority, but Ashkenazi Jews, mostly of central European origin, dominate business, politics and social life. Israel's Palestinian population totals some 800 thousand. While many take part in the democratic process, they remain sidelined in Israeli life.


Hosts a multi-party democracy elected by proportional representation. Israeli parties tend to depend on minor parties for survival. The prime minister and his cabinet wield executive power under the president. Political tensions are increased by friction between orthodox Jews and secular Jews, and settlers and Arabs in the West Bank.


Israel is the world's largest exporter of bromine. Deposits of potash and other salts are mined near the Dead Sea. It also has reserves of copper ore and gold that were discovered in 1988.

Water shortages have forced the purchase of water, transported in plastic bags, from Turkey. On the coastal plain, vineyards and citrus groves are plentiful. …

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