Printable travel guide for Israel
Travel Guide

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Basic Facts

Official Country Name: Israel
Capital: Jerusalem
Population: ~6-7M
Telephone Code: +972
Time Zone: +2
total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Land boundaries: 1,017 km
Language(s): Hebrew and Arabic are official languages, but everybody speaks English
Ethnic Groups: Jewish, Muslim, Christian
Highest Mountain: Mt. Hermon
President/Head of State: Moshe Katzav
Government: Democracy
Currency: NIS (New Israeli Shekel)
Exchange Rate: US$1=4.6 NIS
Health Risks: none
Electricity: 220Volt
Weights & Measures: Metric
Country Name in other languages:

Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between
Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates:
31 30 N, 34 45 E
Map references:
Middle East
total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan
238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
273 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert
Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central
mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
Natural resources:
timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock,
magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use:
arable land: 16.39%
permanent crops: 4.17%
other: 79.44% (2001)
Irrigated land:
1,990 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts;
periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issues:
limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose
serious constraints; desertification; air pollution
from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater
pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical
fertilizers, and pesticides
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification,
Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer
Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol,
Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use
sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied
Golan Heights, 25 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East
Jerusalem (February 2002 est.); Sea of Galilee is an
important freshwater source


note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West
Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan
Heights, more than 5,000 in the Gaza Strip, and fewer
than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.7% (male 847,591; female 808,399)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 1,976,539; female 1,954,782)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 262,781; female 348,916)
(2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 29.2 years
male: 28.3 years
female: 30 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.29% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
18.45 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.19 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.17 years
male: 77.08 years
female: 81.37 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.47 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
2,400 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
100 (2001 est.)
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups:
Jewish 80.1% (Europe/America-born 32.1%, Israel-born
20.8%, Africa-born 14.6%, Asia-born 12.6%), non-Jewish
19.9% (mostly Arab) (1996 est.)
Jewish 80.1%, Muslim 14.6% (mostly Sunni Muslim),
Christian 2.1%, other 3.2% (1996 est.)
Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab
minority, English most commonly used foreign language
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
Government type:
parliamentary democracy
Jerusalem; note - Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its
capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other
countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
Administrative divisions:
6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa,
Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British
National holiday:
Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared
independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar
is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May
no formal constitution; some of the functions of a
constitution are filled by the Declaration of
Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament
(Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law
Legal system:
mixture of English common law, British Mandate
regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish,
Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985,
Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no
longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Moshe KATSAV (since 31 July
head of government: Prime Minister Ariel SHARON (since 7
March 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved
by the Knesset
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is
elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term; election
last held 31 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2007);
following legislative elections, the president assigns
a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the
largest party - the task of forming a governing
coalition; election last held 28 January 2003 (next to
be held fall of 2007)
election results: Moshe KATSAV elected president by the
120-member Knesset with a total of 60 votes, other
candidate, Shimon PERES, received 57 votes (there were
three abstentions); Ariel SHARON continues as prime
minister after Likud Party victory in January 2003
Knesset elections; Likud won 38 seats and then formed
coalition government with Shinui, the National
Religious Party, and the National Union
Legislative branch:
unicameral Knesset or parliament (120 seats; members
elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 28 January 2003 (next to be held fall
of 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - Likud Party
29.4%, Labor 14.5%, Shinui 12.3%, Shas 8.2%, National
Union 5.5%, Meretz 5.2%, United Torah Judaism 4.3%,
National Religious Party 4.2%, Democratic Front for
Peace and Equality 3.0%, One Nation 2.8%, National
Democratic Assembly 2.3%, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya (YBA)
2.2%, United Arab List 2.1%, Green Leaf Party 1.2%,
Herut 1.2%, other 1.6%; seats by party - Likud 38,
Labor 19, Shinui 15, Shas 11, National Union 7, Meretz
6, National Religious Party 6, United Torah Judaism 5,
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality 3, One Nation
3, National Democratic Assembly 3, YBA 2, United Arab
List 2
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (justices appointed for life by the
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) [Muhammad
BARAKA]; Green Leaf Party (no longer active) [Boaz
WACHTEL and Shlomi SANDAK]; Herut (no longer active)
[Michael KLEINER]; Labor Party [Shimon PEREZ]; Likud
Party [Ariel SHARON]; Meretz (merged with YAHAD)
[Zahava GALON]; National Democratic Assembly (Balad) [Azmi
BISHARA]; National Religious Party [Efie EITAM];
National Union (Haichud Haleumi) [Avigdor LIBERMAN]
(includes Tekuma Moledet and Yisra'el Beiteinu); One
Nation [Amir PERETZ]; Shas [Eliyahu YISHAI]; Shinui
[Tommy LAPID]; United Arab List [Abd al-Malik
DAHAMSHAH]; United Torah Judaism [Yaakov LITZMAN];
YAHAD [Yossi BEILIN]; Yisra'el Ba'Aliya or YBA (merged
with Likud) [Natian SHARANSKY]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the
West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now supports
territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip; Yesha (settler) Council promotes settler
interests and opposes territorial compromise; B'Tselem
monitors human rights abuses
International organization participation:
BIS, BSEC (observer), CE (observer), CERN (observer),
(signatory), ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO,
(observer), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), PCA, UN,
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel AYALON
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston,
Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel C. KURTZER
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 29, APO AE 09830
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7369/7453/7454/7457/7458/7551/7575
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US
mission, established in 1928, whose members are not
accredited to a foreign government
Flag description:
white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known
as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between
two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and
bottom edges of the flag

Attractions and Things to See and Do

1. Israel has more museums per capita than any country on earth Including the legendary Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

2. Israel has a network of international-standard spa
resorts in the Galilee, at the Dead Sea and at Eilat.

3. Israel's club scene - particularly in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem - is part of the Ibiza-Amsterdam-London scene,
drawing DJ's and club fans from North America
and Europe to all-night parties.

4. The Israeli landscape is of the richest around: from the Negev desert to the cold Golan heights, from the Izrael valley to the Dan national park, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean coast - our country offers a genuine and thrilling travelling experience.
5. The Dead Sea is a very special place. You can releax there from all the tension of life. There you will also find cure for almost all sickness. It's good also for cosmetic reasons. So - hurry up - don't wait for next year ! Life is short


Map of Israel with road system

Off the Beaten Path and Insider Tips

Suggested Itineraries

1 Day, 1 Week, 2 Weeks, 1 Month ...



Intercity public buses

Israel's Egged Bus Cooperative is the world's second
largest bus company (second only to London Transport),
offering frequent service between every city, town,
village, kibbutz and settlement in Israel. Services are
airconditioned, low-cost and efficient. Tel Aviv's Central
Bus Station is the world's largest. Most bus service halts
at sundown Friday and resumes at sundown Saturday.

for details have a look shekel. Pay attention if you change money on the black market, they may try to give you pre-1985 out-of-use bills. On the flea market, you can also find Palestinian pounds, which were issued by the Palestine Currency Board during the British Mandate; their face value was written in English, Arabic and Hebrew, and was equal to the British pound.
The common abreviation for the new shekel is NIS for "New Israeli Shekel", or a combination of Hebrew letters shin and het (שח) for shekel hadash. Plural is shkalim. One shekel is divided in 100 agourot.
Coins: 10 agourot, 50 agourot (half shekel), 1 shekel, 5 shkalim, 10 shkalim.
Bills: 20 shkalim, 50 shkalim, 100 shkalim, 200 shkalim. Attention, if you come across 500 or 1000 shkalim bills, they are certainly "old" shkalim, no longer in use.
Face value is written in Hebrew and Arabic, the two official languages of Israel, with a transcription in Latin characters.
Coins are inspired by antique coins and archeological findings, and display biblical Jewish symbols: a menorah on the 10 agourot coin, reminiscent of a coin from the Hamonean time; King David's harp on the half shekel; and a simple lily flower on the one shekel coin. Bills feature Zionist leaders and modern Hebrew writers, among them S.J. Agnon, the father of contemporary Hebrew literature.
Exchanging Money
1 dollar is currently about 4,5 shkalim, 1 euro is about 5,5 shkalim. To find the current exchange rate, check out the following links (Google converter):
Other currencies in use: dollar, euro are common.
Palestinians in the Territories (see Country : Palestine) use the shekel in everyday life (though they prefer not using the small coins), and switch commonly to dollar, euro and Jordanian dinar for large sums. Some salaries, for example, may be paid in Jordanian dinar.
Credit Cards
Major credit cards are widely accepted, and you will find ATMs almost everywhere. Major local banks are Bank Leumi (National Bank), Bank HaPoalim (Workers' Bank), Bank Mizrahi (Oriental Bank). In East Jerusalem, in the territories and some Arab localities inside Israel you will also find the Arab Bank and some Jordanian branches.
You will be able to use your card in most shops and restaurants, but keep some cash for the markets and street food!
Attention, there are almost no ATMs in East Jerusalem, only branches of the major banks.

The usage is fastly shifting from "service included" to "service non included", which is by now the most common case; it should be clearly written on the check. A tip is most welcome anyway.
When service is not included, the tip should be 10% to 20%.
Also, one or two shkalim are usually added to pay for the shomer (the guard protecting you from a terror attack). Technically you have the right not to pay this supplement, but why would you do this? In case of an attack, the guy would probably die so as to save you. And they are usually poor Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. Bargaining Costs...

Visa and Documents and Embassies

Who needs a visa? How to get it? Embassies & Consulates, of the country abroad and in the country.

If you are a E.U or USA citizen a visa is not required. Check the Israeli embassy in your country prior to travel.
If your passport has stamps from other Middle East countries be prepared for a long wait and questioning.
Remember why you are there and remain calm and relaxed in response to their questioning. If you have any plans regarding visit to Palestine (excluding the Betlehem trip), it is best not to share this information with the Israeli authorities. If you write about such trip in this site, it is best to hide your full name/phone number. Israeli authorities are notrious about banning/Denaying entry of anybody who is into Palestinian friends/World peace/Human rights/Studying arabic/See the other side of the occupation. If you bring with you a laptop, do not keep any palestian contacts on your hard disk - instead mail it to your email account. Try not to bring any other item which will make you suspicous of ever talking to a Palestinian or having the slightest wish of meeting one in the future. and keep calm!

Borders and Customs

Post and Communications and Internet

Post, Telephone, Fax, Internet Access ...

Questions and Answers or Forum

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Hospitality Club Meetings

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Activities and Sports

Nightlife and Entertainment

Bars, Cafes, Discos, Cinemas... Israel Has many cafes, restaurants and clubs They stay open untill late infact Telaviv never sleeps. Some places close on Saturday and Jewish holydays, but many stay open.
The Middle eastern (oriental, Mizrachit) restaurants are usually cheap and the food there is very good and tasty. Popular and typical dishes at an oriental restaurant are: 1st course Hummus (Minced chick peas)
Salat (Mixed tomato and cucamber salad)
Second Dish: Grilled chicken breast or kabab (minced), Shawarma (what in Europe is called Doner kabap or in the states Gyro) Hoever it doesn't come with yogurt souce, but with sesame sauce (I think that it is far tastier and healthier.
Coffee houses serve superb coffee many have free internet wifi for customers (such as Arcafe and Ilans chains) They also serve cakes and sandwiches.
Many places have smoking and none smoking spaces.
There are many Bars all around especially in Telaviv.

Cinemas Movies are in the original language with Hebrew subtitles and some have English subtitles as well.
Giora Alyagon

Population and People

Culture and Conduct or Local Customs

Language and Useful Phrases

Events and Holidays

Festivals, Sports, Concerts, Public Holidays...

Climate and When to Go


Environment and Flora and Fauna

Dangers and Warnings

Tourist Traps



Government and Politics


GDP, GDP per head, Annual growth, inflation, Major Industries, Major trading partners...


Music, Literature, Theater, Movies ...


Newspapers, Radio and TV, Magazines ...


Volunteer Opportunities and Work

Organized Tours

What to Bring or Packing List


Books and Further Reading

Guidebooks, Travel, History and Politics
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Other Information

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External Links

Official Country Website:
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Offtopic Messages

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