Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible
Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev.
Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.
The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs.
Upon arrival in Israel, visitors undergo a security check and are requested to present a passport that is valid for at least six months, as well as entry forms with their personal details. It is important to ascertain that the details are filled out accurately, and to keep a copy of the form in order to present it upon departure from Israel.
Arrival by Air – Visitors arriving by air will receive forms to be filled in the course of their flight, in order to prevent delays at the passport controls. It is important to ascertain that the details of the passenger and the flight on which he/she arrived are filled out accurately. Travelers will be requested to present their passport, a boarding pass and an entry form at passport control. After their passport has been stamped, incoming travelers continue to the passenger luggage area, where carts are at their disposal. From there, they continue to customs control and to the airport exit.
Arrival by Land
Visitors arriving at the borderline passes on the Israel-Egypt or Israel-Jordan border will receive forms in which their personal details must be filled in. After doing so and undergoing a security check, they must present the completed forms together with their passport.
Tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries (except Egypt and Jordan), please note: You can request that your passport not be stamped with an Israeli stamp. You must notify the clerk of your request before your documents are stamped. The granting of such requests is at the discretion of the authorities.
The State of Israel has some 6.9 million inhabitants.
The most prominent characteristic of Israel’s the population is its high diversity. Besides the main division of the country’s inhabitants into Jews (80%) and Arabs (20%), there are many more subdivisions. The Jews, for example, are divided into religious and secular, while the latter include various immigrant communities who preserve their culture. Likewise, the Arabs are divided into Moslems, Christians and Druze. Alongside these groups, Israel has additional small ethnic religious groups such as the Circassians and the Samaritans, and small Christian communities from Europe such as the German Beit El community in Zikhron Ya’akov.
Another major characteristic of the Israeli population is its rapid growth rate, which is atypical of developed countries. Since the establishment of the State, the population of Israel has increased almost tenfold, mainly due to the immigration of Jews from round the world. Today, Israel is a densely populated country, even though large regions are thinly populated. The population of Israel is young (the median age is 28.3 years), its infant mortality rate is low (5.8 deaths for each 1,000 births), and the life expectancy is high (78.7 years).
The Jewish Population
The State of Israel was established in 1948, at the height of the War of Independence. It expressed the culmination of a long process during which the Jewish people had started returning to their homeland – a process which continued after its establishment. Indeed, since its establishment, some 2.7 million Jews have immigrated to Israel from some 130 countries. These continuous waves of immigration have left their mark on the country’s politics and society.
The growth in the Jewish population of Israel has not been uniform but, rather, occurred during four major waves of Aliya (Aliya – ascent in Hebrew – is the name used to refer to the immigration of Jews to Israel). Between the years 1948 – 1951, Israel absorbed some 700,000 immigrants, with its population doubling as a consequence. In the mid-1950s, some 170,000 immigrants arrived in Israel from North Africa and Rumania. In the early 1960s, some 180,000 immigrants arrived from North Africa. In the 1990s some 900,000 immigrants arrived from the former USSR and some 60,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, all of whom were absorbed in Israel.
Because of the profusion of countries of origin, Israel’s Jewish population is quite varied. Since the establishment of the State, the governments of Israel have adopted a “melting pot” policy. However, many of the immigrant groups have preserved their traditions to various degrees. At the same time, over the years the percentage of native-born Israelis in the population gradually grew, and today they represent the majority of the Jewish population (65%). This process, and in particular the increased rate of intermarriage among members of the various communities and the growing influence of Western culture, have caused a gradual blurring of the differences between the Jewish communities in Israel. Alongside the division into communities, Jews in Israel are also divided according their level of religious observance: Ultra-Orthodox (12%), religious (10%), traditional (35%), secular (43%).
The Non-Jewish Population
The large non-Jewish minority in Israel is Arab, representing about one fifth of the country’s population. Most of Israel’s Arabs live in Arab settlements in the Galilee, on the eastern coastal plane and in the northern Negev. There are also large concentrations of Arabs in mixed cities such as Haifa, Jerusalem, Acre and Ramle.
The vast majority of Israel’s Arabs are Sunnite Moslems, with only about one tenth being Christian (mostly members of the Greek-Orthodox Church). Among Israel’s Arabs are the Bedouins, Moslem Arabs whose forefathers lived as nomads. Israel’s Bedouins have moved into permanent settlements mainly in the northern Negev, but also in the Galilee. The Druze (see below), although a separate religious community, are also Arabs.
For more on Israel on ITKT