BackgroundThe modern State of Israel, established in 1948 after the historic United Nations vote in November 1947, actually has its historical origins from more than 3,000 years ago in pre-biblical times. It is a parliamentary republic and is defined as a Jewish and Democratic State in its Basic Laws. The Mediterranean Sea is its western coast, and it has borders with Lebanon and Syria to the north and northeast, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to the east and Egypt to the south.
The climate in Israel is extraordinarily varied for such a small landmass. In mid-August one might need a light jacket in Jerusalem and travel one hour to stifling heat and humidity in Tel Aviv. In Eilat on the Red Sea the temperatures will be 10 degrees higher (centigrade) but the dryness of the desert makes the experience an entirely different experience than the metropolis. The coastal areas have a typical Mediterranean tropical climate with winters that are cool and rainy – though never enough rainfall for the country’s needs– with temperatures fluctuating radically between mid-day and nights. There is never any rain in the summer. Jerusalemites are generally treated with at least one snowfall per year and the ski-lodge on Mt. Hermon has a thriving business in an average winter. Even within the Galilee itself the weather varies; in summers Tiberius will be hot and humid while up in the hills there is a natural breeze. The Southern Negev and Arava are typical desert climates with a very long hot and dry summer with very little annual rainfall. Due to the scarcity of water, Israel has developed numerous water-saving and usage technologies that have been adopted the world-over, including particularly cutting-edge (for its time) drip irrigation system. As for solar energy, Israel is the leading country in the use of solar energy per capita.
Israel’s financial and industrial centers are Tel Aviv and environs while Jerusalem is its capital (not internationally recognized as such, most embassies have remained in Tel Aviv). In 2012 the population reached more than 7,800,000 with an 80% Jewish majority. The second largest ethnic group is the Arab minority (20%) mainly Muslim, but also Christian and Druze. Israel is a country with one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
Financial and Current Affairs
Israel is a member of the OECD and its economy, based on nominal gross domestic product, was the 40th largest in 2011. Since May 14, 1948 when Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion announced the country’s establishment, Israel has fought numerous wars with its Arab neighbors in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006 and 2009. In 1967 lands were occupied on the West Bank of the Jordan River (including East Jerusalem), the Golan Heights (Syria) and the Sinai and Gaza (Egypt). Peace treaties were signed with Jordan and Egypt, but Syria remains a hostile border and efforts to resolve the chronic Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been stalled since the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. Serving as the IDF Chief of Staff in the Six Day War, Rabin was later assassinated as a "soldier for peace"