Official Name: The State of Israel
Form of Rule: Parliamentary Democracy


Area: 22,072 square kilometers
Population: 7.24 million persons
Distribution by Religion: 75.6% Jews, 16.6% Muslim, 1.6% Christian and 1.6% Druze, 0.40% non-Arab Christians and 3.9% unclassified by religion.

Official Languages: Hebrew, Arabic
Currency: New Shekel
GDP per Person: $ $27,300 (calculated according to purchasing power)
Quality of Life Classification: 24th place in world
International Dialing Code: 972
Internet Suffix: il

Israel is a country in the Middle East, on the narrow region connecting Africa and

Asia. The State of Israel occupies most of the region known as the

Land of


Israel is a developed country, located in a region that is geographically and climatically diversified. There are snow-capped mountains in the north alongside dry wildernesses in the south, and desolate areas alongside modern lively cities.

Israel’s ethnic and religious mosaic is rich and fascinating, and it has numerous cultural institutions and entertainment centers. Thanks to its rich history and sanctity for the three monotheistic religions, it has many ancient and holy sites. Most of the year, the climate in Israel is pleasant, and you can tour the country the whole year round. However, it is recommended to visit during fall and spring (September – November, April – June), when the temperature is especially pleasant.



is in a subtropical region, with two seasons: a hot, dry summer period and a cold, semi-wet to wet winter period. Nonetheless, under general influences such as Israel's position between a sea and a desert, and more localized influences such as altitude and distance from the sea, Israel's climate is varied, offering tourists the winter choice between skiing on


Hermon and swimming in the

Bay of


Israel has three climatic regions: the prevalent climate in most of central and northern Israel is

Mediterranean, characterized by hot summers and rainy winters. The coastal plain is humid during the summer and comfortable during the winter, while in the mountains summer is dry and winter can get quite cold. Southern and eastern parts of


have desert climates with hot, dry weather and substantial day-night temperature differences. Between the desert and Mediterranean regions, is the semi-arid zone, with a transitional climate.


is a land of bright sunshine, and the amounts of light and radiation are among the highest in the world. This ensures a good suntan, but requires appropriate protection.

Most of


's precipitation is winter rains.


Hermon gets snow every year and a few of the higher peaks see occasional snow in winter. In most of the Mediterranean climate zone, more than 400 millimeters of rain fall annually, while in the desert regions, rainfall is less than 250 millimeters. Rainfall in the semi-arid region ranges between 300 and 400 millimeters. Although the rainy season lasts from October through May, most of the rain falls between December and February.

The hottest months of the dry season are July and August. During September-November and April-June, temperatures are comfortable and there is little rainfall, making for ideal beach going weather and pleasant hiking in the desert regions. Visitors to


in the summer should bring light clothing and bathing suits. Winter visitors should have warm clothes and umbrellas.


's winter is fairly comfortable and hiking outdoors is a pleasant option. In an unusually wet week, the southern port city of


always offers refuge from the rain.


Almost every restaurant in


has menus in English. Occasionally, the spellings or translations can be a bit strange, but these can provide amusement as well as charm. Like for anywhere else in the world, research restaurants on-line or use a good guide-book, and get advice from friends or your hotel front desk about their favorites. And use common-sense when choosing a place to eat, selecting places that look clean and welcoming and where there is a large turnover of diners.

Most restaurants and food stalls are open non-stop from the morning until the evening hours.

Restaurants that are also bars remain open until the small hours of the night. In the major cities, especially in Tel Aviv, you can find something to eat at any hour of the day or night.

Reservations are a must at the top restaurants – particularly in Tel Aviv. A great deal for tourists are the Business Lunches at restaurants – particularly the top-rated places – in Tel Aviv and


. These lunches are special ‘prix fixe’ menus with several choices – at prices a third or half of the same meal in the evening.

Israelis generally eat later than Americans. Lunch is usually some time between 1 and 3PM. And while the better restaurants are open from 6 or 7 – they don’t usually become crowded until 9PM or later.


“Kosher” is an adjective (“kashrut” is the noun) used to describe food that is “fit” or “clean” or, in other words, prepared and served according to Judaism’s 3,000-year-old dietary laws.

In general, kashrut prohibits the eating of pork (Muslims proscribe pork too) and shellfish, or the mixing of meat ingredients with dairy ingredients. (It’s more complicated than that, but these are the basic nuts and bolts.)

Many Israelis observe kashrut – or some version of it – while many, perhaps most, do not. Almost every hotel in


is kosher (so that anyone can eat or stay there), but the majority of Israeli restaurants are not kosher. Restaurants that are kosher display a kashrut certificate; kosher restaurants usually close after lunch on Friday and don’t reopen until late Saturday night, or noon on Sunday.