Author(s): United States Department of
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Abstract PIP: A summary description of Israel's populzation, history, government, geography, economy, and foreign relations is provided. Israel's population of 4.1 million (1983) is composed of migrants and descendants of migrants from more than 100 different countries. 83\% of the population is Jewish, and the remaining 17\% is mostly Arab. The literacy rate is 88\% among Jews and 48\% among Arabs. Life expectancy is 72.1 for males and 75.7 for females, and the infant mortality rate is 14.1/1000. The state of Israel was created in response to the Zionist's desire to establish a homeland in Palestine for the world's Jewish population. With the help of the British government and the League of Nations, Jews began immigrating to Palestine in the 1920s. During the 1930s and 1940s, Jewish migration to Israel increased markedly, and in 1947 the UN adopted a plan to divide Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, despite resistance from the Arab community. In 1948, Israel offically proclaimed its existence, and hostilities between the Israelis and Arabs broke out immediately. The ensuing years were characterized by sporadic conflict between Israel, Arab countries 2nd the Palestinians. The conflict between these groups continues into the present, despite many international attempts to promote peace in the region. The country has a parliamentary democratic form of government. It is governed by an elected unicameral legislature, the Knesset; a president, elected by the Knesset; a prime minister, selected by the president to represent the major party in the Knesset; and a coalition cabinet, which must be approved by the Knesset. The country has a market economy, but the government exerts considerable control over the economy, including price control. The country is straddled by a high trade deficit, heavey defense expeditures, inflation, and the high cost of absorbing a large number of immigrants. Despite these problems, as well as a lack of natural resources, Israel has a well developed industrial and service economy. The majority of the country's highly skilled labor force is employed in the public service, industrial, commercial, and financial sectors, and only 6\% of the labor force is engaged in agriculture. In 1983 the gross national product was US$23 billion, and the per capita income was US$5609. Israel experienced a high rate of economic growth in the past; however, in recent years the growth rate decreased, and in 1983, the growth rate was negative. In 1983, exports totaled US$4.8 billion and included polished diamonds, fruit, textiles, processed foods, fertilizer, chemical products, and electronics. Imports totaled US$8.3 billion and included military equipment, raw diamonds, oil, chemicals, machinery, iron, steel, cereals, textiles, vehicles, aircraft, and ships. A map and the names of Israel's principal government officials and of US diplomats in Israel are included.
This article was published in Backgr Notes Ser
and referenced in Journal of Civil & Legal Sciences