Browse the information below for demographic information on Israel, including population,
religion, nationality and more. If you do not find the Israel information you need on the
people page, check out our complete listing on the Israel Country Page.
Population: 6.7 million (September 2003)
Annual growth rate: 1.65% (2003).
Ethnic groups: Jews and non-Arab Christians 5 million, 1.3 million Arabs
Religions: Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Druze.
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic (official), Russian, English.
Education: 11 years compulsory. Literacy-- 95% (female 93%; male 97%).
Health: Infant mortality rate--7.55/1,000, (2002 estimate). Life expectancy-- 78.86 years. female, 81.01 years, male 76.82 years.
Work force (2.3 million): (1Q 2003) Manufacturing-- 16.8 %; commerce-- 12.8%; education--12.8%; other business services-- 12.9%; health and social services--10.2%; community services-- 4.7%; construction-- 5.5%; transportation-- 6.3%; public administration-- 5.7%; hotels and restaurants-- 4%; banking and finance-- 3.4%; agriculture-- 1.7%; electricity and water-- less than 1%. other -- less than 2.2%
People of Israel
Of the approximately 6.4 million Israelis in 2001, about 5.2 million were counted as Jewish, though some of those are not considered Jewish under Orthodox Jewish law. Since 1989, nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived in Israel, making this the largest wave of immigration since independence. In addition, almost 50,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community have immigrated to Israel, 14,000 of them during the dramatic May 1991 Operation Solomon airlift. Thirty-six percent of Israelis were born outside Israel.
The three broad Jewish groupings are the Ashkenazim, or Jews who trace their ancestry to western, central, and eastern Europe; the Sephardim, who trace their origin to Spain, Portugal, southern Europe, and North Africa; and Eastern or Oriental Jews, who descend from ancient communities in Islamic lands. Of the non-Jewish population, about 80% are Muslims, 10% are Christian, and about 10% are Druze.
Education is compulsory from age 6 to 16 and is free up to age 18. The school system is organized into kindergartens, 6-year primary schools, 3-year junior secondary schools, and 3-year senior secondary schools, after which a comprehensive examination is offered for university admissions. There are seven university-level institutions in Israel, a number of regional colleges, and an Open University program.
With a population drawn from more than 100 countries on 5 continents, Israeli society is rich in cultural diversity and artistic creativity. The arts are actively encouraged and supported by the government. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performs throughout the country and frequently tours abroad. The Jerusalem Symphony and the New Israel Opera also tour frequently, as do other musical ensembles. Almost every municipality has a chamber orchestra or ensemble, many boasting the talents of gifted performers from the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Israel has several professional ballet and modern dance companies, and folk dancing, which draws upon the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups, continues to be very popular. There is great public interest in the theater; the repertoire covers the entire range of classical and contemporary drama in translation as well as plays by Israeli authors. Of the three major repertory companies, the most famous, Habimah, was founded in 1917.
Active artist colonies thrive in Safed, Jaffa, and Ein Hod, and Israeli painters and sculptors exhibit works worldwide. Israel boasts more than 120 museums, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls along with an extensive collection of regional archaeological artifacts, art, and Jewish religious and folk exhibits. Israelis are avid newspaper readers, with more than 90% of Israeli adults reading a newspaper at least once a week. Major daily papers are in Hebrew; others are in Arabic, English, French, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian, and German.