- Area: 8019 square miles
- Population: 8,921,730
- Infant mortality: 3.5 deaths /1000 live births
- Life expectancy: 82.5
- Urbanisation: 92.4
- Literacy: 97.8
Modern Israel is roughly located on the site of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The area (also known as Land of Israel and as Palestine) is the birthplace of the Hebrew language, the place where the Hebrew Bible was composed and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity. It contains sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Samaritanism, Druze and the Bahá'í Faith. The Land of Israel has come under the sway of various empires and has been home to a variety of ethnicities, but was predominantly Jewish from roughly 1,000 years before the Common Era (BCE) until the 3rd century of the Common Era (CE). The adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire in the 4th century led to a Greco-Roman Christian majority which lasted until the 7th century when the area was conquered by the Arab Muslim Empires. It gradually became predominantly Moslem until the Crusades between 1096 and 1291, when it was the focal point of conflict between Christianity and Islam. From the 13th century it was mainly Moslem with Arabic as the dominant language and was first part of the Syrian province of the Mamluk Sultanate and then part of the Ottoman Empire until the British conquest in 1917. A Jewish national movement, Zionism, emerged in the late-19th century (partially in response to growing anti-Semitism), as part of which Aliyah (Jewish immigration) increased. After World War I many Ottoman territories were after years of periodic unrest torn apart in the Levant, coming under British and French control and the League of Nations granted the British a Mandate to rule Palestine which was to be turned into a Jewish National Home. A rival Arab nationalism also claimed rights over the former Ottoman territories and sought to prevent Jewish migration into Palestine, leading to growing Arab–Jewish tensions. Israeli independence in 1948 was marked by a massive Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries and Europe to Israel, and of Arabs from Israel, followed by the Arab–Israeli conflict. About 43% of the world's Jews live in Israel today, the largest Jewish community in the world. Since about 1970, the United States has become the principal ally of Israel. In 1979, an uneasy Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed, based on the Camp David Accords. In 1993, Israel signed Oslo I Accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization, followed by establishment of the Palestinian National Authority and in 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty was signed. Despite efforts to finalize the peace agreement, the conflict continues to play a major role in Israeli and international political, social and economic life.
The geography of Israel is very diverse, with desert conditions in the south, and snow-capped mountains in the north. Israel is located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea in western Asia. It is bounded to the north by Lebanon, the northeast by Syria, the east by Jordan and the West Bank, and to the southwest by Egypt. To the west of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea, which makes up the majority of Israel's 273 km (170 mi) coastline and the Gaza Strip. Israel has a small coastline on the Red Sea in the south. Israel's area is approximately 20,770 km2 (8,019 sq mi), which includes 445 km2 (172 sq mi) of inland water. Israel stretches 424 km (263 mi) from north to south, and its width ranges from 114 km (71 mi) to, at its narrowest point, 15 km (9.3 mi). The Israeli-occupied territories include the West Bank, 5,879 km2 (2,270 sq mi), East Jerusalem, 70 km2 (27 sq mi) and the Golan Heights, 1,150 km2 (444 sq mi). Geographical features in these territories will be noted as such. Of these areas, Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, an act not recognised by the international community. Southern Israel is dominated by the Negev desert, covering some 16,000 square kilometres (6,178 sq mi), more than half of the country's total land area. The north of the Negev contains the Judean Desert, which, at its border with Jordan, contains the Dead Sea which, at −417 m (−1,368 ft) is the lowest point on Earth. The inland area of central Israel is dominated by the Judean Hills of the West Bank, whilst the central and northern coastline consists of the flat and fertile Israeli coastal plain. Inland, the northern region contains the Mount Carmel mountain range, which is followed inland by the fertile Jezreel Valley, and then the hilly Galilee region. The Sea of Galilee is located beyond this, and is bordered to the east by the Golan Heights, a plateau bordered to the north by the Israeli-occupied part of the Mount Hermon massif, which includes the highest point under Israel's control, a peak of 2,224 meters (7,297 ft). The highest point in territory internationally recognized as Israeli is Mount Meron at 1,208 meters (3,963 ft).
The economy of Israel is advanced by global standards. Israel ranks within the top 20 nations in the world on the latest report of the UN's Human Development Index, which places it in the category of "Very Highly Developed", allowing the country to enjoy a higher standard of living than many other Western countries. The prosperity of Israel's advanced economy allows the country to have a sophisticated welfare state, a modern infrastructure, and a high-technology sector competitively on par with Silicon Valley. Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world after the United States, and the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China. Intel, Microsoft, and Apple built their first overseas research and development facilities in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations, such as IBM, Google, HP, Cisco Systems, Facebook and Motorola have opened R&D centres in the country. The country's major economic sectors are high-technology and industrial manufacturing; the Israeli diamond industry is one of the world's centers for diamond cutting and polishing, amounting to 23.2% of all exports. Relatively poor in natural resources, Israel depends on imports of petroleum, raw materials, wheat, motor vehicles, uncut diamonds and production inputs, though the country's nearly total reliance on energy imports may change with recent discoveries of large natural gas reserves off its coast on the one hand and the leading role of the Israeli solar energy industry on the other. Israel's quality university education and the establishment of a highly motivated and educated populace is largely responsible for ushering in the country's high technology boom and rapid economic development. With its strong educational infrastructure and high quality incubation system for new cutting edge ideas to create value driven goods and services has allowed the country to create a high concentration of high-tech companies across the country financially backed by a strong venture capital industry. Its central high technology hub "Silicon Wadi" is considered second in importance only to its Californian counterpart. Numerous Israeli companies have been acquired by global corporations for their reliable and quality corporate personnel. With such an impressive track record for creating profit driven technologies, Israel has become the first choice for many of world's leading entrepreneurs, investors, and industry giants. The economic dynamism of Israel has attracted attention from international business leaders such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, real estate developer and U.S. President Donald Trump and telecommunications giant Carlos Slim. Each entrepreneur has praised Israel's economy and invested heavily across numerous Israeli industries beyond their traditional business activities and investments back in their home nations. In 2007, American investor Warren Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway bought an Israeli company, Iscar, its first acquisition outside the United States, for $4 billion. The country was also the destination for Berkshire Hathaway's first investment outside the United States when it acquired ISCAR Metalworking. In September 2010, Israel was invited to join the OECD. Israel has also signed free trade agreements with the European Union, the United States, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Jordan, Egypt, and on 18 December 2007, became the first non-Latin-American country to sign a free trade agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc. Israel is also a major tourist destination, with 3.6 million foreign tourists visiting it in 2017.