Israel, formally known as the State of Israel, is a nation in the Middle East, located on the Mediterranean Sea’s southeastern coast and the Red Sea’s northern shore. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, and Egypt to the southwest. Within its relatively limited size, the nation has geographically varied characteristics. Tel Aviv is Israel’s financial and technological hub, whereas Jerusalem is the declared capital, despite the fact that Israeli authority over Jerusalem is recognised internationally.
The United Nations General Assembly approved a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine on 29 November 1947. This established the boundaries of new Arab and Jewish nations, as well as a portion of Jerusalem to be governed by the United Nations under an international system. The British Mandate over Palestine was scheduled to expire at 12 a.m. on 14 May 1948. On that day, David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist Organization’s executive director and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, proclaimed “the creation of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” which would take effect upon the mandate’s expiration. The proclamation made no mention of the new state’s boundaries. The next day, neighboring Arab armies attacked the old British territory and battled Israeli troops. Israel has since fought numerous wars with surrounding Arab nations, occupying the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula (1956–57, 1967–82), a portion of Southern Lebanon (1982–2000), the Gaza Strip (1967–2005; still regarded occupied after 2005 disengagement), and the Golan Heights. It included the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem under its jurisdiction, but not the West Bank. Efforts to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have been fruitless. However, Israel has successfully negotiated peace accords with Egypt and Jordan. Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem is the world’s longest contemporary military occupation.
Israel’s population, as defined by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, was projected to be 8,541,000 people in 2016. It is the world’s only state with a Jewish majority, with 6,388,800 people, or 74.8 percent, identifying as such. Arabs, with a population of 1,775,400, are the country’s second biggest group of nationals (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). Sunni Muslims constitute the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs, including a sizable number of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the remainder are Christians and Druze. Arameans, Assyrians, Samaritans, Armenians, Circassians, Dom people, Maronites, and Vietnamese are other minorities. Although the Black Hebrew Israelites are undergoing a gradual process of assimilation, they remain mostly permanent residents rather than citizens. Additionally, Israel is home to a sizable community of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia, including illegal migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, and other Sub-Saharan African countries.
Israel identifies itself as a Jewish and democratic state in its Basic Laws. Israel is a representative democracy that operates under a parliamentary system, employs proportional representation, and adheres to universal suffrage. The prime minister is the head of government, while the Knesset is the legislative body. Israel is a developed nation and a member of the OECD, having the world’s 35th biggest economy by nominal gross domestic product in 2015. The nation benefits from a highly trained workforce and is one of the most educated in the world, having one of the highest rates of people with a tertiary education. The nation boasts the greatest quality of living in the Middle East and Asia, and one of the world’s highest life expectancies.