Australia/Israel Review


Israel at 75: A Snapshot

Mar 27, 2023 | AIJAC staff

By OECD standards, Israel has a fast-growing, young population (Image: Jose Hernandez/ Shutterstock)
By OECD standards, Israel has a fast-growing, young population (Image: Jose Hernandez/ Shutterstock)

Population 

Approximately 9,506,100 (as of May 2022 – Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics)

Largest cities:

  • Jerusalem: 971,000
  • Tel Aviv: 468,000
  • Haifa: 285,000

Ethnicity: Around 73.9% of the population identify as Jewish. The remainder of the population is mostly Arab (around 21.1%), with the remaining 5% consisting of various other ethnic groups.

Age: The median age in Israel is around 31 years old. Around 28% of the population is under the age of 14 and 12% are over the age of 65.

Religion: As mentioned above, the majority of Israelis are Jewish. Muslims make up around 17.7% of the population, with smaller numbers of Christians, Druze, and other religions.

Growth: Israel’s annual population growth rate stood at 1.6% per annum as of 2021, faster than the OECD average of around 0.3%.

There have been more than 3.3 million immigrants to Israel since its founding in 1948, meaning Israel has taken in more immigrants per capita than any other country. 74,915 people moved to the Jewish state in 2022, a sharp spike compared to previous years, mostly Ukrainians and Russians fleeing the war. 

Israel also has by far the highest fertility rate in the OECD, averaging 2.931 births per woman as of 2023. The OECD average is 1.7.

Life Expectancy: Projected life expectancy as of 2023 is 83.49 – 81 for men and 86 for women. This is near the top of the OECD table, and similar to Australia, which has a life expectancy of 83.94 in 2023.

The Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index released in 2019 found Israel to be the tenth healthiest country in the world. 

 

Economy (2023 est.)

  • GDP: US$560 Billion (A$837 billion)
  • GDP per capita: US$58,000 (A$86,600)

The Economist ranked Israel as the 4th most successful economy among the developed countries for 2022.

Key sectors:

  • Hi-tech: 15% of GDP (approx.)
  • Agriculture: 2.5%
  • Manufacturing: 16%
  • Tourism: 7%
  • Diamonds: 5%
  • Financial: 6%
  • Wholesale/Retail: 11%

Israel’s poverty rate is currently 20% – with 1.9 million people living below the poverty line.

 

Trade

Total exports: US$50.8 billion (A$76 billion – software and communication equipment were the largest component)

Total imports: US$68 billion (A$101.6 billion – machinery and transport equipment were the largest component)

Major trading partners:

  • USA:       US$35 billion per annum
  • China:    US$17 billion
  • UK:          US$7 billion
  • Germany: US$6 billion
  • India:     US$5 billion

 

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • Israel is a world leader in hi-tech and research and development, spending nearly 5% of GDP on innovation.
  • Israel has the highest percentage of scientists and engineers in the world, at 135 per 10,000.
  • Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin – 109 per 10,000 people as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
  • With more than 3,000 hi-tech companies and start-ups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world – apart from Silicon Valley in California.
  • Israel is ranked no. 2 in the world for venture capital funds per capita.
  • On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.
  • Twenty-four per cent of Israel’s workforce hold university degrees, ranking third in the industrialised world, after the United States and the Netherlands, and 12% hold advanced degrees.
  • Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship – and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 – in the world.
  • The city of Tel Aviv is home to an estimated 6,000 start-up companies.

 

Tourism

  • After a record 4.55 million tourism visits in 2019, numbers declined dramatically in 2020 (831,000) and 2021 (397,000) due to COVID. However, it has started to pick up again and in 2022 there were 2.675 million visits with a sharp increase expected in 2023.
  • A survey of Israeli tourism by Ernst and Young noted that Israel’s different cultures and religions, its diverse landscapes, the contrasts between cities (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv), and its combination of European, North African and Middle Eastern culture produced a “very high density of experience.”
  • The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the most-visited tourist site, followed by other sites in Jerusalem’s Old City: the Jewish Quarter, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, and the Tower of David Museum, as well as the Mount of Olives just outside. Outside Jerusalem, the most popular tourist sites are Masada, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Tel Aviv Port, Capernaum and Caesarea. (Israeli Ministry of Tourism)

 

Environment 

  • Israel is the only country that was home to more trees in 2000 than in 1900.
  • 85% of Israeli households get their hot water from rooftop solar heaters, compared to around 13% in Australia.
  • Israel has more than 50 alternative meat startups – a disproportionately high number compared to elsewhere around the world – making it a meat alternative powerhouse. Perhaps this is no surprise, given Israel is reportedly the most vegan country in the world, with 5% of Israelis vegan, 4% vegetarian and 8% “flexitarian” (semi-vegetarian).

 

Water Innovation

  • Israel recycles 90% of the wastewater it creates, making it the leading nation for water recycling.
  • Around 75% of Israel’s remaining domestic water supply is desalinated seawater. Experts say that Israel’s five major desalination plants are arguably the most energy-efficient in the world. 

 

Fun facts 

  • There are more than 4,000 buildings in Tel Aviv in the Bauhaus architectural style, the largest concentration in the world. This has led to a UNESCO world heritage listing. 
  • Israel has more museums per capita than any other country – 230 and counting. A new museum dedicated to women is opening soon.
  • Israel is home to the largest known dog cemetery of the ancient world. More than 1,300 dog skeletons, most of them puppies, were found at the Ashkelon site.
  • Israel is the fourth happiest country in the world according to the 2023 figures released by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Australia is ranked 12th. 

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