Israel

Israel

Israel, officially the State of Israel, is a country in the Middle East, on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economy and technology center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over East Jerusalem is not recognised internationally.

In 1947, the United Nations adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and rejected by Arab leaders. Next year, the Jewish Agency declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel." Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it has occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip (still considered occupied after 2005 disengagement). It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been implemented.

The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2017 to be 8,732,000 people. It is the world's only Jewish-majority state, with 74.8% being designated as Jewish. The country's second largest population group are Arabs, at 20.8% (including most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are Sunni Muslims, including significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Arameans, Armenians, Assyrians, Black Hebrew Israelites, Circassians, Maronites and Samaritans. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia, including illegal migrants from Sudan, Eritrea and other Sub-Saharan Africans.

In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The prime minister is head of government and the Knesset is the legislature. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 34th-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2016. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East, and has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.