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Middle East :: Israel
(also see separate Gaza Strip and West Bank entries)
page last updated on October 28, 2009
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Introduction ::Israel
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Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo Accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia - the "Quartet" - took the lead in laying out a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between September 2003 and February 2005. An Israeli-Palestinian agreement reached at Sharm al-Sheikh in February 2005, along with an internally-brokered Palestinian cease-fire, significantly reduced the violence. In the summer of 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS in January 2006 to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006; he shelved plans to unilaterally evacuate from most of the West Bank following an Israeli military operation in Gaza in June-July 2006 and a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006. OLMERT in June 2007 resumed talks with the PA after HAMAS seized control of the Gaza Strip and PA President Mahmoud ABBAS formed a new government without HAMAS. OLMERT in September 2008 resigned in the wake of several corruption allegations, but remained prime minister until the new coalition government under former Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU was completed in late March 2009, following the February general election.
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Geography ::Israel
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Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
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31 30 N, 34 45 E
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total: 22,072 sq km
country comparison to the world: 152
land: 21,642 sq km
water: 430 sq km
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slightly smaller than New Jersey
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total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
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273 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
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temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
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Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
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lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
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timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
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arable land: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)
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1,940 sq km (2003)
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1.7 cu km (2001)
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total: 2.05 cu km/yr (31%/7%/62%)
per capita: 305 cu m/yr (2000)
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sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
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limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
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there are about 340 Israeli civilian sites - including 100 small outpost communities in the West Bank - as well as 42 sites in the Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (July 2008 est.); Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source
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People ::Israel
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7,233,701
country comparison to the world: 97
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2009 est.)
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0-14 years: 27.9% (male 1,031,629/female 984,230)
15-64 years: 62.3% (male 2,283,034/female 2,221,301)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 311,218/female 402,289) (2009 est.)
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total: 29.1 years
male: 28.4 years
female: 29.8 years (2009 est.)
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1.671% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
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19.77 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
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5.43 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
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2.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
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urban population: 92% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 4.22 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 207
male: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 80.73 years
country comparison to the world: 13
male: 78.62 years
female: 82.95 years (2009 est.)
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2.75 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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0.1% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
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5,100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
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fewer than 200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
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noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
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Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)
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Jewish 76.4%, Muslim 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2004)
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Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9% (2004 est.)
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total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)
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6.9% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 25
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Government ::Israel
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conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
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parliamentary democracy
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name: Jerusalem
geographic coordinates: 31 46 N, 35 14 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
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6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
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14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
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Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May
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no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law; note - since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been working on a draft constitution
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mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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18 years of age; universal
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chief of state: President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Binjamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009); Vice Prime Minister Silvan SHALOM (since 31 March 2009); Vice Prime Minister Moshe YAALON (since 31 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president assigns a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the largest party - the task of forming a governing coalition
election results: Shimon PERES elected president; number of votes in first round - Shimon PERES 58, Reuven RIVLIN 37, Colette AVITAL 21; PERES elected president in second round with 86 votes (unopposed)
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unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 10 February 2009 (next scheduled election to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - Kadima 23.2%, Likud-Ahi 22.3%, YB 12.1%, Labor 10.2%, SHAS 8.8%, United Torah Judaism 4.5%, United Arab List 3.5%, NU 3.4%, Hadash 3.4%, The Jewish Home 3%, The New Movement-Meretz 3%, Balad 2.6%; seats by party - Kadima 28, Likud-Ahi 27, YB 15, Labor 13, SHAS 11, United Torah Judaism 5, United Arab List 4, NU 4, HADASH 4, The Jewish Home 3, The New Movement-Meretz 3, Balad 3
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Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)
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Balad [Azmi BISHARA]; Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (HADASH) [Muhammad BARAKEH]; Kadima [Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI]; Labor Party [Ehud BARAK]; Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]; National Union [Yaakov KATZ]; The Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) [Daniel HERSCHKOWITZ]; SHAS [Eliyahu YISHAI]; The New Movement-Meretz [Haim ORON]; United Arab List-Ta'al [Ibrahim SARSUR]; United Torah Judaism or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN]; Yisrael Beiteinu or YB [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]
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B'Tselem [Jessica MONTELL, Executive Director] monitors human rights abuses; Peace Now [Yariv OPPENHEIMER, Secretary General] supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; YESHA Council of Settlements [Danny DAYAN, Chairman] promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise
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BIS, BSEC (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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chief of mission: Ambassador Michael OREN
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
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chief of mission: Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 29, APO AE 09830
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7575
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government
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white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag
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Economy ::Israel
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Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial, though diminishing, government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, its major source of economic and military aid. Israel's GDP, after contracting slightly in 2001 and 2002 due to the Palestinian conflict and troubles in the high-technology sector, has grown by about 5% per year since 2003. The economy grew an estimated 3.9% in 2008, slowed by the global financial crisis. The government's prudent fiscal policy and structural reforms over the past few years have helped to induce strong foreign investment, tax revenues, and private consumption, setting the economy on a solid growth path.
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$201.4 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$193.3 billion (2007 est.)
$183.4 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$201.8 billion (2008 est.)
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4.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
5.4% (2007 est.)
5.2% (2006 est.)
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$28,300 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
$27,700 (2007 est.)
$26,700 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 2.6%
industry: 32.4%
services: 65% (2008 est.)
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2.957 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
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agriculture: 2%
industry: 16%
services: 82% (30 September 2008)
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6.1% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
7.3% (2007 est.)
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21.6%
note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day (2005)
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lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 24.2% (2007)
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38.6 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 71
35.5 (2001)
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18.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
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revenues: $59.98 billion
expenditures: $64.21 billion (2008 est.)
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78% of GDP (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
104.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
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4.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
0.5% (2007 est.)
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 124
4% (31 December 2007)
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 129
6.27% (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 47
$15.36 billion (31 December 2006)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 19
$154.3 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 40
$113.4 billion (31 December 2006)
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$134.5 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 33
$236.4 billion (31 December 2007)
$173.3 billion (31 December 2006)
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citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
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high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, footwear
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3.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
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50.41 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
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46.15 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
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2.081 billion kWh (2007 est.)
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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5,246 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
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235,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
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69,580 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
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318,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
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1.94 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
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1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
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1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 169
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
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30.44 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 70
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$1.596 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$4.185 billion (2007 est.)
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$56.64 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
$50.07 billion (2007 est.)
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machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
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US 32.5%, Belgium 7.5%, Hong Kong 6.7% (2008)
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$64.31 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
$55.93 billion (2007 est.)
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raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
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US 12.3%, Belgium 6.5%, China 6.5%, Switzerland 6.1%, Germany 6% (2008)
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$42.51 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$28.52 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$86.08 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 39
$89.58 billion (31 December 2007)
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$56.93 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
$55.7 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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$54.55 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
$48.47 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
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new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.56 (2008 est.), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004)
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Communications ::Israel
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2.9 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 51
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8.902 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 64
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general assessment: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital; four privately-owned mobile-cellular service providers with countrywide coverage
international: country code - 972; submarine cables provide links to Europe, Cyprus, and parts of the Middle East; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (2008)
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AM 23, FM 15, shortwave 2 (1998)
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17 (plus 36 repeaters) (1995)
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.il
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1.544 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 35
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2.106 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 69
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Transportation ::Israel
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47 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 92
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total: 30
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 6 (2009)
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total: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 14 (2009)
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3 (2009)
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gas 176 km; oil 442 km; refined products 261 km (2008)
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total: 913 km
country comparison to the world: 93
standard gauge: 913 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
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total: 17,870 km
country comparison to the world: 118
paved: 17,870 km (includes 146 km of expressways) (2007)
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total: 11
country comparison to the world: 112
by type: cargo 2, container 9
registered in other countries: 60 (Bermuda 3, Cyprus 4, Georgia 2, Honduras 1, Liberia 23, Malta 18, Panama 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Slovakia 4) (2008)
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Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
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Military ::Israel
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Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israel Naval Forces (INF), Israel Air Force (IAF) (2009)
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18 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for enlisted men, 21 months for enlisted women, 48 months for officers; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), 24 (women) (2008)
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males age 16-49: 1,717,362
females age 16-49: 1,636,574 (2008 est.)
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males age 16-49: 1,474,966
females age 16-49: 1,404,712 (2009 est.)
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male: 61,223
female: 58,219 (2009 est.)
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7.3% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 6
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Transnational Issues ::Israel
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West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank in August 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region
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IDPs: 150,000-420,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2007)
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increasingly concerned about ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center
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