(from the CIA World Fact Book
20,770 sq km (about the size of New Jersey)
Ethnic Groups: Jewish
74.7%, non-Jewish 25.2% (mostly Arab) (2016 est.)
Jewish 74.7%, Muslim
2%, Druze 1.6%, other 4% (2016 est.)
GDP (purchasing power parity): $315.6 billion (2017 est.)
GDP per capita: $36,200 (2017 est.)
Unemployment: 4.3% (2017 est.)
Israel is a parliamentary democracy comprised of legislative, executive and judicial branches.
About 93% of the land is owned by the State of Israel, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Development Authority. The Israel Land Authority (ILA) manages the land. The government issues long-term leasing rights for land.
November 2, 1917 - The British government expresses support for the establishment of a permanent Jewish state in Palestine with a letter called the Balfour Declaration.
1922 - The League of Nations authorizes Great Britain to help the Jewish people establish a homeland in Palestine with the British Mandate for Palestine.
1936-1939 - Tension between Arabs and Jewish settlers leads to riots.
1937 - In the wake of the unrest, a British commission issues a report recommending the partition of Israel into an Arab state, a Jewish state and a neutral zone for holy sites. A year later, a separate commission concludes that the planned partition is impractical and the plan is abandoned.
1939-1945 - World War II
is fought in Europe and the Pacific. More than six million Jews are killed in the Holocaust.
November 29, 1947 -
The United Nations
approves a plan for the partition of Palestine.
May 14, 1948 - The independent state of Israel is declared with David Ben-Gurion as prime minister.
May 1948 -
Forces from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq
and Lebanon invade, leading to the first in a series of Arab-Israeli wars.
1949 - An armistice agreement is reached. The West Bank is split off from Israel to become Jordanian territory and the Gaza Strip is designated as an Egyptian territory. The armistice is meant to be a temporary arrangement, a prelude to permanent peace treaties.
1949 - Israel is admitted into the United Nations.
1950 - The UN begins operating a relief agency for Palestinian refugees.
When the agency is introduced, about 750,000 displaced Palestinians are in need of services.
January 1964 - Pope Paul VI visits Israel.
1964 - The Palestine Liberation Organization is formed.
June 5-10, 1967 - The Six-Day War is fought between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. At the end of this war, Israel doubles its land holdings to include the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
September 1972 -
Eleven members of the Israeli Oly