Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley.
Temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas.
Nationality: Israeli. Population: 7,707,042 (July 2013 est.). Language: Hebrew (official), Arabic (used officially for Arab minority), English (most commonly used foreign language).
Jewish 75.6%, Muslim 16.9%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.8% (2008).
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among the leading exports.
More than 90 percent of Israelis are urban dwellers. They live in housing built mostly of stone, concrete block, or stucco. About 3 percent of the population live in some 270 Kibbutzim. These are communes where property is commonly owned, decisions are made by all members, meals are prepared and served communally, and children live, eat, and study together in a "children's community." Kibbutzim were traditionally the backbone of Israeli agriculture.
US Military Presence/Support
Israel is America’s most dependable ally in the Middle East. Annually, the U.S. provides some $3 billion in funding to Israel to support military efforts and participates in ongoing joint training missions, research and weapons development. America is strongly committed to working to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and favors the “two state” solution on which negotiations are currently underway.