Coordinates: 31N 35E / 31N 35E / 31; 35
Israel // or //, officially the State of Israel (Hebrew: , Mednat Yisr’el, IPA:[medinat jisael]( listen); Arabic: , Dawlat Isrl, IPA:[dawlat israil]), is a country in Western Asia, situated at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest, respectively, and Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel’s financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is the country’s most populous city and its designated capital, Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.[note 2]
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. Borders for a new Jewish state were specified by the UN but ultimately not recognized by either Israel or neighboring countries. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” which would start to function from the termination of the mandate. Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former Palestinian mandate on the next day and fought the Israeli forces. Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (195657, 196782), part of South Lebanon (19822000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank.Efforts to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been signed. Israels occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the world’s longest military occupation in modern times.[note 3]
The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300people. It is the world’s only Jewish-majority state; 6,212,000 citizens, or 74.9% of Israelis, are designated as Jewish. The country’s second largest group of citizens are denoted as Arabs, with 1,718,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are Muslims; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Maronites, Samaritans, Dom people, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans,Armenians, Circassians, Roma, Vietnamese boat people, and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.
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 serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel’s legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 43rd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2012. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fifth highest in Asia, and has the one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name “State of Israel” (Medinat Yisrael) after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel (“the Land of Israel”), Zion, and Judea, were considered and rejected. In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term “Israeli” to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.
The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have historically been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish nation respectively. The name “Israel” in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob (StandardYisrael, Isrl; Septuagint Greek: Isral; “struggle with God”) who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob’s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the “Exodus”. The earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word “Israel” is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).
The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bah’ Faith. From 1920 the whole region was known as Palestine (under British Mandate) until the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 1948. Through the centuries, the territory was known by a variety of other names, including Judea, Samaria, Southern Syria, Syria Palaestina, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Iudaea Province, Coele-Syria, Retjenu, and Canaan.
The notion of the “Land of Israel”, known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael, has been important and sacred to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promised the land to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people. On the basis of scripture, the period of the three Patriarchs has been placed somewhere in the early 2nd millenniumBCE, and the first Kingdom of Israel was established around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently over the next four hundred years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.
The first record of the name Israel (as ysrr) occurs in the Merneptah stele, erected for Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.” This “Israel” was a cultural and probably political entity of the central highlands, well enough established to be perceived by the Egyptians as a possible challenge to their hegemony, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state; Ancestors of the Israelites may have included Semites native to Canaan and the Sea Peoples. McNutt says, “It is probably safe to assume that sometime during Iron Age a population began to identify itself as ‘Israelite’”, differentiating itself from the Canaanites through such markers as the prohibition of intermarriage, an emphasis on family history and genealogy, and religion.
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Israel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia