78 Facts about Israel (Travelers and Expats) Food, Attractions, Culture, Photos…

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Thinking about a trip to Israel? In this post, you'll learn 78 facts about Israel, including attractions, beaches, food, politics, population, wildlife, and much more. Plus tons of photos and videos.

Israel facts

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78 Facts About Israel

If you're thinking of traveling to Israel, you'll need some Israel facts.

Moving or traveling requires some knowledge, so here are 78 important facts about Israel to help you be respectful and make the most of your time there.

Carmel Market Tel Aviv

Carmel Market, Tel Aviv


Basic Facts About Israel

1. What is Israel’s official name

The official name of Israel is “Medinat Yisra’el” or internationally, The State of Israel.

It’s known informally as simply Israel by most international entities and “Yisra’el” in Hebrew.

2. What is Israel’s population?

Israel has a steadily growing population despite tensions in the area and is currently home to around 8.6 million people as of 2017. That number includes a variety of ethnicities and languages.

This doesn’t include communities in some disputed areas such as the West Bank. As Israel’s borders with former Palestine continue to fluctuate, we could see population increases or reductions. Also, Jews from around the world continue to relocate to their ancestral homeland.

3. Where is Israel located?

Geographically, Israel is part of the continent of Asia, bordering Jordan to the east and Lebanon to the north.

Syria also shares a northeast border, and Egypt is located to the southeast. For some, Israel also shares a long border with the former country of Palestine although this is in dispute for many.

Map of Israel

4. What time is it in Israel?

Israel’s time zone is GMT +2, seven hours ahead of the United States Eastern Time Zone and two hours ahead of London.

Israel observes Daylight Savings Time just like the United States but with a slightly different period from March 29 to October 27.

5. When does the sun set in Israel?

During the regular time, the sun sets roughly around 5:30 pm give or take 15 minutes.

Daylight Savings Time sets that time ahead by about an hour, and during the longest part of the year, the sun sets well after 7:00 pm.

6. What are citizens of Israel known as?

Citizens from Israel are known as Israelis.

Those of Jewish distinction making up 75 percent of the population followed by Arabic descent at 20 percent and other minorities making up the final five percent.

7. What is the capital of Israel?

Jerusalem is the official capital of Israel following the conquest of East Jerusalem and the extension of the municipal boundary in 1967.

Street in Jerusalem Israel

However, because Israel’s official control is under dispute, Tel Aviv is the unofficial capital, functioning as the financial center as well as the center of politics and international relations. With the United States moving the embassy to Jerusalem recently, this distinction could change.

Street View in Jerusalem Israel

8. What is the life expectancy in Israel?

Israelis have a higher overall life expectancy than the United States with an average lifespan of 84 years as of 2016.

9. What religions are in Israel?

Israel is the only country in the world in which the majority of citizens are Jewish.

However, this isn’t the only religious identity with some citizens of Arabic descent following Islam. Around two percent of the population identifies as Christian and around four percent are defined as other.

10. Common misspellings of Israel

Many people switch the “a” and “e” to form: Isreal.

Another common misspelling of the people is “Isareli” which is also usually corrected quickly.


Facts about Israel Travel

11. How’s the weather in Israel?

The weather in Israel is good year round, with wonderfully mild winters and hot but dry summers.

Winter months are filled with storms and can be unpredictable from day to day, but most consider them still good times to visit.

The best months could be May and October, which many consider not too hot and not too cold.

12. What is the best time to visit Israel?

Again, May and October usually host the best weather and not too many tourists.

These months are more predictable in terms of storms and rain and have a cooler temperature than deep summer. Aside from a few high holy days, it’s a really convenient time to travel.

13. What is Israel’s currency?

The New Shekel is Israel’s current form of currency in a nod to the ancient currency. A shekel is divided into 100 agora.

It’s worth about a fifth of a US dollar although that fluctuates from time to time.

The New Shekel has been in used since January 1, 1986, when it replaced the old shekel at a ratio of 1000:1.

14. Do I need a power adapter when I visit Israel?

Yes, you'll need a converter if you're traveling from Canada or United States. Israel uses 23oV.

An adapter like this will step down 220V t0 110V devices.

Israel has three styles of plugs, so you’ll need something that will cover each one. Their official current is 230 which can ruin devices from the United States and Canada.

15. What plugs are used in Israel?

The plugs are M, H, and C plugs. C plugs have two round holes. H plugs have three pins in a triangular shape, and M plugs have three circular holes.

This three pack plug adapter set should cover you on your trip. Just remember that these don't change the voltage (see above) – they only allow you to physically plug in.

If you are going on an extended trip, you might consider buying your devices there.

16. What are Israel’s international airports?

Israel has 14 different airports with Ben Gurion probably occupying the most famous spot. As you can tell in the following stats, almost all visitors arrive via TLV airport.

Here are the three international airports in Israel.

  1. Eliat-Ramon (ETM) 1,424,098 Passengers in 2014
  2. Haifa-U. Michaeli (HFA) 119,113 Passengers in 2016
  3. Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion (TLV) 20,781,226 Passengers in 2017

You can find airports to take you straight into many of Israel’s biggest hubs with smaller airports in between to make travel safe and more convenient than traveling overland routes.

17. What languages are spoken in Israel?

Israel has several language groups with Hebrew being the most common and Arabic coming in second place.

Other smaller language groups include English in diplomatic circles, Russian, Yiddish, and ten percent of the language groups falling into the “other category.

18. How many tourists visit Israel every year?

Tourism is a significant source of revenue in Israel with nearly 3.6 million visitors coming into the country in 2017. Many are making ancestral pilgrimages from several religious traditions.

19. What are Israel’s most popular landmarks?

  1. Jaffa is the oldest port city and features beautiful ocean views.
  2. The Sea of Galilee holds significance for many religious adherents.
  3. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of the most sacred sites in Christendom.
  4. The Mount of Olives offers breathtaking views of some of the regions oldest occupied lands.
  5. The Dome of the Rock is the site of either the ascension of Mohammed or the location of the Holy of Holies of Herod’s temple.
  6. The Western Wall is the only standing portion of Herod’s temple.
  7. Yad Vashem remembers those who died in the Holocaust.
Old Jaffa Port Near Tel Aviv

Old Jaffa Port, Near Tel Aviv

20. Is Israel a safe place to visit?

Israel is the site of continuing conflict over the rightful owner of certain areas. Although this conflict is ongoing, the city is safe for most visitors as long as visitors understand the conflict and pay attention to what’s going on.

The closer you get to the Gaza strip, the more significant the threat of attack. Stay alert and pay attention to your country’s issued warnings.

This is a somewhat controversial question. With those who don't travel, assuming that it isn't safe because of past conflicts. The following video highlights some of the highlights of a trip there, by a young travel couple.

Watch on YouTube

21. What are Israel’s 10 best beaches?

Israel may be a religious pilgrimage for many, but don’t forget the sand and sun!

Tel Aviv has some beautiful beaches, but others along the Red Sea and the Dead Sea also offer excellent options.

  1. Hilton Beach in Tel Aviv is one of the most popular
  2. Frishman offers views of Ben Gurion’s house.
  3. Banana Beach offers excellent waves.
  4. Gordon Beach is the king of tourist spots.
  5. Ajami in Jaffa is close to historical sites there.
  6. Metzitzim gives you soothing vibes for families.
  7. Palmachim is a quiet secret locals love.
  8. Dado Zamir in Haifa has amazing windsurfing and an art market.
  9. Dor Habonim in Haifa is the best place for beachside camping.
  10. Caesarea offers a view of a 2000-year-old aqueduct structure.

Although not traditional, a trip to the salty shores of the Dead Sea can be quite therapeutic.

Beaches in Israel

Here are some tips for enjoying the beaches on Israel's Mediterranean coast.

22. What are the most famous events in Israel?

  1. During the Passover, the priests bless the western wall with a millennia-old prayer.
  2. If you love food, the Taste of Galilea food festival celebrates Israeli food in December
  3. Bethlehem is popular at Christmas
  4. Independence day is celebrated in April / May every year. It falls on 5 Iyar (Hebrew calendar)
  5. Haifa International Film Festival
  6. Sounds of the Old City music festival
  7. Red Sea Jazz Festival
  8. Rosh Hashanah

Geography Now! Israel Video

Watch on YouTube


Geography in Israel

23. How large is Israel?

Israel is 8,630 sq. miles (22,145 sq. km) or just slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey (22,591 sq. km).

24. What World Heritage Sites are in Israel?

There are 9 World Heritage Sites in Israel, and all of them fall in the cultural category.

These include the following sites:

  1. Incense Route: Desert Cities in the Negev
  2. White City of Tel-Aviv
  3. Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves
  4. Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands
  5. Necropolis of Bet She’arim
  6. Old City of Acre
  7. Masada
  8. Biblical Tels–Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
  9. Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee
Facts about Jerusalem Israel

Street in Old Jerusalem

25. What is Israel’s largest city?

The largest city is unified Jerusalem, but even without the annexation of Eastern Jerusalem, West Jerusalem is still the largest city.

Jerusalem population (2018): 919,407

Watch on YouTube

26. What are Israel’s major cities?

Major cities include the historic town of Jerusalem, the more modern cultural center of Tel Aviv. Historical cities include Haifa, Ashdod, and Petah Tikva.

  1. Jerusalem
  2. Tel Aviv
  3. Haifa
  4. Ashdod
  5. Rishon LeZion
  6. Petah Tikva
  7. Beersheba
  8. Netanya
  9. Holon
  10. Bnei Brak

Cities in Israel

27. How many provinces in Israel?

There are 6 administrative provinces in Israel and 15 subdistricts.

Many information sites include districts as those under civilian control, including some contested areas that may not find their way into official international statistics (for example the district of East Jerusalem whose annexation is not recognized by the United Nations).

28. What is the highest elevation in Israel?

Mt. Hermon is the highest peak in Israel, reaching 7,336 feet.

It slopes down into Israel-occupied but contested territory. It’s currently the site of a ski resort.

29. Does Israel have a lot of mountains?

It has a very diverse geographic region with mountain ranges in the north, including Mt. Hermon in Golon, Meron and Ha’Ari in Galilee. The mountains in Israel are often the sight of religious festivals.

30. How many islands in Israel?

You may not think of islands when you think of Israel, but there are a few. It includes three different island groups plus a five stand alone islands.

  1. Rosh HaNikra Islands (3)
  2. Achziv Islands (3)
  3. Hof Dor Islands, Dor (4)
  4. Yonim Island, Ma'agan Michael
  5. Caesarea Islands, Caesarea
  6. Mikhmoret Rock, Mikhmoret
  7. Andromeda Rock, Jaffa. Near the entrance of Jaffa Port.
  8. Adam Rock, Bat Yam

31. What are the top 10 famous places in Israel?

  1. Nazareth: Often called the cradle of Christianity and is a predominately Arabic city
  2. Caesarea: Herod created this city in honor of Caesar Augustus.
  3. Haifa: the center of Bahai culture
  4. Tel Aviv: the most modern city
  5. The Dead Sea
  6. Masada: an old fortress
  7. Dome of the Rock: holy to both Jews and Muslims
  8. Via Dolorosa: the path to the cross for Christians
  9. The Western Wall
  10. Mount of Olives

Jerusalem Israel

32. How many national parks in Israel?

There are over 40 national parks in Israel, but 6 of the best ones to visit are:

  • Caesarea National Park
  • Ein Gedi National Park
  • Masada National Park
  • Mt Carmel National Park
  • Gan HaShlosha National Park
  • Beit Shean National Park

More about Israel's national parks.


Politics of Israel

33. What type of government does Israel have?

Israel has a democratic government first formed in 1948.

It has several political parties and continues to rule in spite of conflict in the region. Some of the disputed areas of Israeli occupation fall under this rule, and the legitimacy of the government is widely questioned in the Middle East while soundly supported by most in the West.

34. How stable is the current government?

The current government is very stable and continues to consolidate power to present a unified and strong front against Israel’s detractors. It continues to enjoy strong support from Israel’s community.

35. How many national political parties are in Israel?

There are 34 political parties within the Israeli Knesset (parliament), but only three parties have ever had ruling seats. However, political parties frequently coalesce to come to decisions and take action.


Business in Israel

36. What is Israel’s largest export?

Israel has a complex economy with cut diamonds, technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals making up the majority of exports.

37. What Are Israel’s major exports?

Israel exports pesticides and refined petroleum in a wide range of commodities. Photo lab equipment and broadcasting equipment round out Israel’s technological sector.

38. What is the minimum wage in Israel?

Israeli workers in the lowest-paid sectors of the economy have a minimum wage of 5000 New Israeli Shekels per month. That’s about USD$1300 a month.

39. Who are Israel’s major trading partners?

Major trading partners include the United States, China, Belgium and Luxembourg, India, and Germany among others. These relationships form billions of dollars for the Israeli economy.

Facts about Israeli food


Food in Israel

40. What food is most popular in Israel?

Foods like Hummus may have the top spot for the region, but there are several foods you have to try if you’re traveling through the area. Other options include shakshuka, falafel, and Lechem bread. Also, fusion cuisine is rising in popularity.

Watch on YouTube

41. What kind of food is traditional in Israel?

Traditional foods are centered around the chickpea but also lamb dishes and rice.

Falafel and hummus are some of the most recognizable dishes, but the cuisine of Israel can vary within homes depending on the ethnic background of the inhabitants.

Watch on YouTube

42. What can you eat and drink in Israel?

There is a variety of cuisine in Israel based on both Jewish and Arabic traditional foods, but you can also enjoy cutting edge cuisine that blends traditions from a variety of sources. You can also find basic US-based foods if you look hard enough.

Watch on YouTube

43. What is Israel's national dish?

Although it doesn’t have an official national dish, many consider it to be falafel. This dish is ubiquitous, and you can find it on just about every street corner and restaurant as well as in many homes.

Other main dishes include fish and lamb. Because the Israeli diaspora brought Jews from all over the world back to their homeland, the cuisine mimics that experience.

44. What is a typical dinner in Israel?

Typical dinners include a salad of some sort plus fresh fish, which is readily available. Meats including lamb and chicken are also common. Israeli dinners are often combinations of cuisines brought from Jews all over the world.

45. What is the most popular drink in Israel?

Limonana, made from anise based arak, is probably one of the best-known libations. It’s an Israeli concoction and a popular offering at clubs and nightclubs. Arak is a traditional beverage in the middle east, clear liquor with anise-like flavor.

46. What do the locals eat for breakfast?

Israelis often eat eggs in dishes like shakshuka. Pastries are also typical as are breakfast sandwiches in the form of “sabich.”

Labneh is also common as a mid-morning meal. Breakfasts tend to be simple and revolve around comfort foods and traditional foods from all over the world from the diaspora.

Watch on YouTube

47. What food and drink is Israel famous for?

Arak, a clear liquor is one of the most famous alcoholic drinks in the region and falafel is the unofficial main dish of the area. Other dishes include hummus, which is another typical dish for the country.

48. What fruit is Israel famous for?

Israel is famous for the old olive groves, but it’s most common fruits are actually apples, plums, grapes, and peaches. There’s a thriving agricultural area in Israel with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Israel food market

49. What can you not eat in Israel?

Israel doesn’t have a lot of taboos, but if you eat in religious-based establishments, there could be foods that can’t be consumed during the times of the high holy days. Also, eating in Arabic establishments could have a few things that are taboo for Muslims. On the whole, there aren’t any hard taboos or restrictions on foods.

50. Can I drink the water in Israel?

Tap water is safe in Israel in all places except for the Dead Sea, which has water too tricky for people to consume. You should be completely fine while staying in Israel, although some may want bottled water for the taste.


Language in Israel

51. What are the official languages in Israel?

Official languages in Israel include Hebrew, which is also the most widely spoken language. Until July 2018, Arabic was also an official language, but that’s no longer the case. However, for diplomacy, English is also a common language.

Thinking about learning a little Hebrew? This audio guide by Living Language should help.

Learn Hebrew in 25 Minutes

Watch on YouTube

100 Beginners Hebrew Phrases

Watch on YouTube

52. What language are road signs in Israel?

Road signs are typically in three different languages, Hebrew, Arabic, and English letters. While smaller cities may have a variation of that combination, most official signs are the three options.


Wildlife in Israel

53. What animals live in Israel?

Israel has quite a few animal species because of its varied geography.

  • The Arabian Oryx is unique in that it went extinct in the wild for some time, but conservation efforts were able to revive the species.
  • The Sand Cat is an adorable predator that is the only one of its species to live in the desert.
  • The Marbled Polecat is a striking animal resembling a Ferret but with strong color patterns across its head and neck.

Wild Israel: National Geographic Documentary

Watch on YouTube

54. What is Israel's national animal?

The Hoopoe is the national animal of Israel. The bird species has a crown of feathers and a distinctive long beak.

The Hoopoe has three separate classes and one extinct class. There are many mentions of the Hoopoe in ancient literature of a variety of religious traditions, including a connection to King Solomon.

55. What dangerous animals are in Israel?

Israel doesn’t have a lot of large predators, but a few more dangerous animals could be scorpions and venomous snakes. Also, be careful of the predator cats in the area, but these are few and far between.

Most of the dangers come in the form of venomous insects that can pack quite a bite.

56. Are there any deadly spiders in Israel?

There are one or two species that can cause localized paralysis and excruciating pain if they bite you.

The Black Widow can cause a lot of pain and possible death if left untreated (in vulnerable hikers while the Mediterranean Recluse can cause necrosis of the tissue.

In rare cases, more severe symptoms can occur, but most reactions are merely symptomatic and leave no lasting effects if treated immediately.


Plant life in Israel

57. What is Israel national flower?

At one point the cyclamen was elected the national flower of Israel, but a more extensive poll around 2014 saw the election of the colorful poppy anemone. It’s known locally as Kalanit.

58. What types of vegetation are common in Israel?

Israel has a varied geography with interesting vegetation. Nearly 3000 species have been identified, and while many of the more legendary forests have disappeared, the area still retains a variety of vegetation adapted to desert life, coastal life, and mountainous life.

59. What crops are grown in Israel?

Agriculture is highly developed, making Israel one of the leading exporters of things like fresh fruit.

Thanks to technology, Israel can grow a wide range of crops in a small space including fruits like citrus and avocados, important crops like cotton, and field crops like wheat and sorghum.

Grapes are also big crops because of the country’s interest in winemaking.


National Symbols of Israel

60. What is the symbol of Israel?

Israel is the only country in the world with a majority Jewish population, so the national symbol is the Menorah.

The coat of arms displays this symbol because it’s widely recognized as one of the central pieces of Jewish culture.

61. What is the national tree of Israel?

The olive tree is the official tree due to the region's long history with ancient and storied olive groves. The fig tree is considered the unofficial tree, however.

62. What is Israel's national bird?

The national bird of Israel is the Hoopoe, species native to the area and displaying a distinctive crown of feathers. The bird performs unique positions to sunbathe, a motion long misunderstood by scientists.

63. What is Israel's national animal?

The national bird is the same as the national animal with the Hoopoe winning a clear majority in a national poll designed to choose the national bird.

It’s native to the region and thought to have a long history with both Jewish populations and Arabic populations.

64. What is Israel's national sport?

Israel doesn’t have an official national sport, but soccer is undoubtedly the most popular with basketball coming in second.

Israel has competed in the Olympics every year since the 1950s and has a long history of sports.


Culture in Israel

65. What are some of the different cultures in Israel?

The majority of culture in Israel is Jewish with the establishment of the Jewish ancestral homeland in 1948.

However, the region is also home to Palestinian and Israeli Muslims of Arabic descent. Also, there are smaller populations of Orthodox Christians in the area and Bedouins moving through the deserts.

Although Israel is a cosmopolitan city, it does retain some of its older culture among the different populations. Some can’t be identified by dress alone, but in the older parts of the city, you may see the more traditional attire.

66. What is the population of Israel?

The population if Israel is 8.7 million people with that number on the rise. Some population estimates are disputed because of occupied territories still under contention from the larger world community.

67. Is Israel's population increasing or decreasing?

As Jews continue to move to their ancestral homeland, the population continues to rise. It’s a slow, but steady increase.

68. How many immigrants live in Israel?

It’s difficult to assess the number because of the continuous conflict and occupation, but it’s estimated that around 300,000 people live in Israel under temporary work visas.

As immigrants continue to come into the country every day, official numbers depend on which entity you talk to.

69. Where do the immigrants in Israel come from?

Many are Jewish settlers coming in from around the world to settle in the only predominantly Jewish state.

Others are refugees from Africa and the middle east. Israel has a large working population comprised of people from Palestine and the Philippines.

The country has one of the most diverse and multicultural communities in the world because of its massive immigrant population over the generations.


Israel Immigration and Expat Facts

70. What is the best place to live in Israel?

Tel Aviv, the unofficial capital, is home to one of the most significant populations in Israel and is a cosmopolitan city full of opportunity and thriving nightlife.

Eilat is popular with younger citizens who love the active life with plenty of outdoor sports and status as a top resort town.

Jerusalem holds some of Israel’s oldest architecture and famous historical sites. Many smaller settlements along the beaches also offer residents lots of benefits.

71. What are the requirements to live in Israel? How can I immigrate to Israel?

Immigrating to Israel is most common under the right of return given to those with Jewish roots.

Israel doesn’t have a robust immigration law, so becoming an immigrant requires sponsorship of some kind through a company or settling with family. Jews have a pathway to citizenship under Israel’s established homeland clauses.

72. How do you become a citizen of Israel? Is it hard to become a citizen of Israel?

It’s not easy to become a citizen of Israel outside of the law of return, but it is possible.

You must live in Israel for three out of the past five years, show proficiency in Hebrew, and be willing to waive other citizenships as appropriate to the law. The Law of Return gives Jews with eligible roots and ties to Judaism the possibility to become citizens.

73. Is it easy to get permanent residency in Israel?

It’s not easy to get permanent residency in Israel because of space constraints and immigration laws, but it is possible.

Many falling under the jurisdiction of the right of return are eligible for permanent residency in the interim period of providing documentation. Also, some work visas are available as well.

74. How long can I live in Israel?

You can stay in Israel for 90 days without a visa of any kind, but you’ll have to have papers to stay and live for longer than that.

The immigration process has been amended many times and isn’t the easiest to get because of a lack of space for large numbers of immigrants. Israel isn’t an immigrant state and doesn’t have the same types of immigration as places like the United States.

75. How long can I stay in Israel without a visa?

Most nationalities can stay in Israel and travel for up to 90 days without a visa of any kind. You should check with your local embassy for laws pertaining to your country and Israel before you assume the timeline. Also, this may not apply to areas under conflict.

76. How can I work in Israel?

If you plan to work longer than 30 days, you’ll need an entry permit and a work permit.

You should have a job offer from an Israeli company that can sponsor you and provides you with the necessary paperwork. Moving to Israel without a visa can have some severe consequences due to ongoing security risks and threats.

77. What percentage of Israel are immigrants?

75% of the population were born in the country, a significant increase from the beginnings of the country. The remaining 25% are immigrants from all over the world.

The country saw around 40,000 new immigrants in 2018 with many of them coming from Russia. There are also approximately 250,000 illegal foreign workers and migrants residing in the country although that number is disputed.

78. How many expats are in Israel?

It’s difficult to estimate how many expats live within the country. Israel doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for people to immigrate without falling under the Law of Return, so those living in the country are often moved to citizenship instead of remaining as expats. Of the expats living there, many are American or from countries currently in conflict.

Facts about Israel

Your Turn

Let us know in the comments below if these Israel facts gave you a clearer picture of the wonders of the area and if facts about Israel were the reason you finally decided to book your trip!

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines

Bryan Haines is co-editor of LivingAbroad.in - and is working to make it the best resource for current and future expats. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of GringosAbroad (Find Your Next Adventure in Ecuador) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with Bryan and Dena.

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