Country of the World Israel

About the country Israel, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Bordering the eastern Mediterranean, Israel is characterized by low plains in the north and along the coast. The plains give way to the arid Negev plateau in the south and rise to the 4,000-ft. slopes of Mt. Meiron in the far north near Lebanon. Summers are hot and dry, and winters are mild. Because of scant rainfall, crop irrigation is necessary. Nearly all the water used for this purpose is drawn from the Jordan River, which marks Israel's eastern boundary.

Size: 7,992 sq. mi. (20,700 sq. km.).

Population: 3.6 million.

Who Rules: Operating under a parliamentary democracy, Israel is ruled by a 120-member assembly (Knesset). Although the president is chief of state, the post is largely ceremonial. The government is run by a prime minister and cabinet, who must receive a parliamentary vote of confidence before assuming power. The prime minister is sworn to carry out the Knesset's decisions.

Who REALLY Rules: The Labor party--affiliated with the Socialist International--dominated Israeli politics from the founding of the state in 1948 until 1977, when it was toppled by the conservative Likud party, which steadfastly opposes the concept of a Palestinian homeland. Despite some strain in U.S.-Israeli relations, the U.S. continues to supply Israel with essential economic and military assistance.

The General Federation of Labour (Histadrut) is one of the most powerful trade unions in the world and plays a major role in every aspect of national life. Some 1.3 million Israeli workers are members of Histadrut, including 330,000 housewives, who have full membership status.

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