Israel //, officially theState of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medīnat Yisrā'el,IPA: [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel] ( listen);Arabic: دولة إِسرائيل, Dawlat Isrāʼīl,IPA: [dawlat ʔisraːˈʔiːl]), is a country in Western Asia, on the south-eastern shore of theMediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast,Jordan and Palestine in the east, Egypt and the Gaza Stripon the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south, and it contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. In its Basic LawsIsrael defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State; it is the world's only Jewish-majority state.
On 29 November 1947, theUnited Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the partition plan of Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948,David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared "the establishment of a Jewish statein Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel," a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, 15 May 1948. Neighboring Arab armies invaded Palestine on the next day and fought the Israeli forces. Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states, in the course of which it hasoccupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (between 1967 and 1982), part of South Lebanon(between 1982 and 2000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It annexed portions of these territories, including East Jerusalem, but the border with the West Bank is disputed. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem (if East Jerusalem is included) is the country's most populous city and its designated capital.[a] The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2013 to be 8,051,200 people, of whom 6,045,900 are Jewish. Arabs form the country's second-largest group with 1,663,400 people (including the Druze). The great majority of Israeli Arabs are settled-Muslims, with smaller but significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include various ethnic and ethno-religious denominations such as Russians, Maronites, Samaritans, Black Hebrew Israelites,Armenians, Circassians and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers estimated at about 300 thousand.
Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's unicameral legislative body. Israel has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It is adeveloped country, an OECD member, and its economy, based on the nominal gross domestic product, was the 43rd-largest in the world in 2012. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the third highest in Asia.