Ethnic Groups: Jewish 75%, non-Jewish 25% (mostly Arab) (2013 est.)
Religion: Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9% (2013 est.)
GDP: $272.1 billion (2014 est.)
GDP per capita: $33,100 (2014 est.)
Unemployment: 5.9% (2014 est.)
Large numbers of Jewish
people began migrating to Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, in the late 19th century. This was in response to increasing persecution and anti-Semitism in Europe.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy comprised of legislative, executive and judicial branches. The president is head of state, but mostly in a ceremonial sense.
About 93% of the land is owned by the State of Israel, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Development Authority, and by law cannot be sold.
November 2, 1917 -
Great Britain, while occupying Palestine during World War I
, supports the establishment of a permanent Jewish state in the Balfour Declaration.
1922 - The Mandate for Palestine is granted by the League of Nations when it recognizes the need for a "Jewish national home."
1936-1939 - Tension between Arabs, Jewish settlers and the British leads to fighting and martial law.
1937 - The British Royal Commission of Inquiry to Palestine, headed by Lord Peel, recommends that the mandate is no longer practical and that Palestine should be partitioned into separate Arab and Jewish states to help alleviate the strong and growing anti-Jewish sentiment.
February 28, 1938 - The Woodhead Commission, the British team sent to work out a plan to implement the separation, concludes that the partitioning proposed by the Peel Commission is impractical.
September 1, 1939-May 8, 1945 -
World War II is fought in Europe. More than six million Jews are killed in the Holocaust.
July 11, 1947 - The Exodus 1947, previously owned by the U.S. government and called the SS President Warfield, sets sail from the port of Sete, near Marseilles, France, for Palestine carrying 4,515 Jewish immigrants, including 655 children, some Holocaust survivors. The British take the ship by force and return it to Port de Bouc, France. The passengers refuse to disembark. The French refuse to force the passengers off the ship. The passengers declare a hunger strike and remain on board for 24 days.
August 22, 1947 - The British escort the Exodus 1947 to British-occupied Hamburg, West Germany. There, the Jewish immigrants are removed from the ship and transported to relocation camps near Lubeck. International outrage over returning Jews to Europe changes British policy. Illegal Jewish immigrants are then sent to camps in Cyprus instead.
November 29, 1947 -
The United Nations
approves a plan for the partition of Palestine. A civil war breaks out between Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
May 14, 1948 - Great Britain's role in Palestine ends as the independent state of Israel is declared with David Ben-Gurion as prime minister.
May 1948-January 1949 -
Arab armies invade Israel. The fighting is known as the War for Independence. The war is fought with the nations of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq
January-July 1949 - Armistice talks give Israel 75% of what was Palestine, adding nearly one-third more land to what was the new state of Israel before the invasion. Between 1947 and 1949, more than 600,000 Arabs flee Israel to become refugees in neighboring countries.
May 1949 - Israel is admitted into the United Nations.
1950 - The Israeli government adopts the Law of Return - "Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh (a Jewish immigrant)."
October 29-November 6, 1956 - Israel, France, and Great Britain invade Egypt's Sinai Peninsula over the nationalization of the Suez Canal.
January 1964 - Pope Paul VI becomes the first pope to visit Israel since the 15th century.
May 28-29, 1964 - Palestine Liberation Organization is formed by exiled Palestinians with idea of reclaiming their homeland from Israel.
June 5-10, 1967 - The Six-Day War is fought when Israel strikes first at Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At the end of this war Israel triples its land holdings to include the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights and Gaza Strip from Syria, the West Bank from Jordan, and the reunification of Jerusalem.
July 1, 1967-August 8, 1970 - Hostilities escalate near the Suez Canal between Israel and Egypt. Israel calls this the War of Attrition.
September 5, 1972 - Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team are captured and killed by Arab terrorists in Munich, Germany.
October 6-22, 1973 -
Egypt and Syria
launch the Yom Kippur War by with air strikes against Israeli targets in the Suez Canal and Golan Heights. Other Arab countries aid Egypt and Syria by sending troops, financial aid and/or weapons: Saudi Arabia
, Kuwait, Libya
, Algeria, Tunisia
, Morocco and Jordan. The Soviet Union airlifts supplies to the Arab combatants, and the United States sends aid to Israel.
November 19, 1977 - Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visits Jerusalem, recognizing Israel as an independent state.
September 5-17, 1978 - U.S. President Jimmy Carter
sponsors a summit at Camp David in Maryland, between Egypt and Israel. On the agenda is Middle East peace and the issue of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
September 17, 1978 - The Camp David Accords
are signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The two leaders' commitment to peace is recognized later in the year when they share the Nobel Peace Prize.
March 26, 1979 - The Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C. by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The agreement returns the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt but the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli rule.
April 25, 1982 - Adhering to the terms of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, Israel returns the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.
December 8, 1987-September 13, 1993 - The intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, begins.
November 18, 1988 - The PLO accepts U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which refer to peace terms for wars involving Israel and Arab nations. The implication of acceptance of the resolution is that the PLO recognizes Israel as a separate state.
October 30-November 4, 1991 - The Madrid Peace Conference is organized by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. Heads of state from Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, along with delegations from the West Bank and Gaza, come together to discuss peace plans.
September 13, 1993 - PLO chairman Yasser Arafat
and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shake hands after PLO's Abou Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
sign the Oslo Accord
s in Washington. The accords allow for self-rule under the Palestine National Authority and Israeli troop withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres
share the Nobel Peace Prize
. Full diplomatic relations are established with the Vatican
March 21-26, 2000 - Pope John Paul II
July 11-24, 2000 - U.S. President Bill Clinton
, trying to achieve Middle East peace before he leaves office, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David. The summit ends without an agreement.
September 28, 2000-2005 -
The second intifada (al-Aksa Intifada), begins when Ariel Sharon
visits the Temple Mount, a very holy place for both Jews and Muslims, and declares it will always remain under Israeli control. Violence escalates from rioting and rock throwing to machine guns, mortars and suicide bombings. The death toll reaches nearly 3,000 Palestinians and nearly 1,000 Israelis.
April 14, 2002 - Israel decides to build a wall along its border with the West Bank. Israel says it provides security from militants who bomb and terrorize Israelis. Opponents say it is a land grab by Israel prior to a negotiated settlement of border disputes.
April 30, 2003 - The Middle East Road Map to Peace is presented to Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers by the United States. The road map is a three-stage plan for a sovereign Palestinian state by 2006.
November 27, 2003-August 22, 2005 - The Disengagement Plan, which removes Israeli settlers, troops and police from settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, is revealed and implemented.
December 1, 2003 - Israeli and PLO representatives Yasir Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin sign the Geneva Accords, an attempt to end Palestinian-Israeli hostilities within the framework of the road map to peace and the earlier accords. The accord is not well received by either government.
July 12-27, 2006 - Lebanon's Hezbollah attacks Israeli troops. Israel retaliates with air strikes.
January 18, 2008 - Israel closes the Gaza-Israel border in an attempt to halt rocket fire from Gaza.
June 19, 2008 - A six month cease-fire between Hamas and Israel is negotiated by Egypt. Hamas agrees to stop firing rockets at Israeli border communities and Israel will allow limited trade into and out of Gaza. Attacks between the two continued the entire time, escalating more in November. The cease-fire officially ends December 19.
December 27, 2008- January 16, 2009 - Operation Cast Lead: Israel strikes back at the Hamas with an air strike on December 27 and a ground attack on January 3.
January 17-January 21, 2009 - Israel declares a ceasefire and completes troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
May 2010 - Israel joins the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
May 31, 2010 -
The Mavi Marmara
, a Turkish passenger ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists and supplies for Gaza attempts to run the blockade. Members of Israel's naval commando team, Shayetet 13, board. The activists and Shayetet 13 clash. Nine activists die in the exchange, others are injured and seven soldiers are injured. The ship is commandeered by the Israeli Navy and taken to Ashdod. The activists are later deported.
October 2011 - Israel agrees to the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captured in 2006.
December 18, 2011 - Second phase of the prisoner swap, the remaining 550 prisoners are released from Israeli prisons.
March 26, 2012 - Israel suspends ties with the U.N. Human Rights Council after the council initiates a "Fact Finding Mission on the Influence of Settlements on Palestinians."
November 14, 2012 -
Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense
by killing Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas' military operations. The strikes are in retaliation for months of increasing rocket attacks against Israeli targets.
November 21, 2012 - After eight days of violence, a ceasefire takes effect at 9 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).
November 22, 2012 - The Israeli Defense Forces reports that a soldier died after being injured in one of the final Palestinian shellings before the cease-fire took hold, bringing the total of Israeli deaths to six.
January 18, 2013 - Palestinians and Israel agree to resume peace talks.
March 22, 2013 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
apologizes to Turkey for "operational mistakes" in the 2010 Israeli commando attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, and says that the tragic results were unintentional. Information about normalizing relations and returning ambassadors to their posts is later removed from an official statement.
June 2, 2014 -
Hamas and Fatah swear in a unity government.
July 7, 2014-August 26, 2014 -
Israel carries out Operation Protective Edge
against Hamas. The United Nations has said more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the violence in Gaza. The U.N estimates at least 70% of the Palestinians killed were civilians, but Israel reports a higher number of militants among the dead.On the Israeli side, there are 68 casualties, 65 of them soldiers and three civilians.
March 17, 2015 -
Prime Minister Netanyahu is re-elected.