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Country Facts

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Geography

- Capital: Israel has declared Jerusalem its capital. Because of the conflict and the unresolved situation concerning the status of the city foreign embassies are located in the Tel Aviv area.

- Area: approx. 22,000 sq.km (Denmark 43,000 sq.km).
- Population: approx. 7,8 mio.
- Population growth per year: 1.8 %.
- Ethnic groups: Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouins.
- Languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Russian.
- Religion: 77 % Jews, 16 % Muslim, 2 % Christian, 2 % Druze, 3 % unclassified.

Economy

- GDP per capita: 182.162 DDK (32,200 US$) in 2012 (est.)
- GDP real growth rate: 2.9 % in 2012 (est.)
- Currency: 100 Shekel (NIS) equals around 154 DKK.
- Unemployment: 6.9 % (2012)

Government

- Head of State: President Shimon Peres.
- Head of Government: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud).
- Minister of Foreign Affairs: Tzipi Hotovely (Likud).
- Minister of Defense: Avigdor Liebermann (Yisrael Beiteinu).

Domestic Political Situation

Israel is a republic with a democratically elected parliament, the Knesset. Not having a formal constitution, the Declaration of Independence of 1948 and several "basic laws" serve as the main judicial foundation. The Knesset is a single chamber parliament with 120 members (MKs) with elections scheduled for every four years. However, elections are usually held early. The latest election for the Knesset was on January 22nd 2013 where 12 parties were elected. The results were as following: Likud-Beiteinu: 31 seats, Yesh Atid: 19 seats, Israel Labor Party: 15 seats, Habayit Hayehudi: 12 seats, Shas: 11 seats, United Torah Judaism: 7 seats, Hatenua: 6 seats, Meretz: 6 seats, Hadash: 4 seats, Ra’am-Ta’al: 4 seats, National Democratic Assembly: 3 seats and Kadima: 2 seats.

On 18 March 2013 Israel’s 33. government was presented for and approved in Knesset. The government coalition consists of the following four parties:
- Likud-Beitenu
- Yesh Atid
- Habayit Hayehudi
- Hatnua

Foreign Political Situation

Israel has signed formal peace agreements with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). Furthermore, Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and from Gaza in 2005. No peace agreements have been signed with either Syria or Lebanon. During the Danish Presidency of the European Union in 2002, the Middle East Quartet (the UN, US, EU and Russia) formulated a joint "Road Map for Peace". The aim is to establish a Palestinian state and negotiate a definitive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, which has yet to be realised.
Israel’s most important partner politically, militarily and strategically is the United States.

Economic situation

Israel has a stable economy and the global financial crisis has only affected Israel modestly. From 2002 until 2007 Israeli growth rates averaged close to 5 %. In 2009, the country experienced a negative growth of -1.5 %, but the economy quickly recovered and stabilised. As a result, growth was 5.7 % in 2010 and 4.6 % in 2011. However, the expected growth rate of 2012 has been estimated to a lower level of 2.9 %.

The positive economic trends are also seen at the Tel Aviv stock exchange (the TA-25 index), which has recovered from the decline of 50 % in the fall of 2008, and is now back at pre-crisis level. In addition, the TelTech-15 index (with the dual-listed shares on Nasdaq which is an important indicator of the information and communications technology intensive Israeli economy) has also witnessed an impressive economic recovery, and is close to having overcome the 60 % decline in 2008. The unemployment rate was around 5.6 in 2011 % - the lowest level for the last 30 years, but has now rise to 6.9 % (2012).

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