Israel (/ˈɪzreɪəl/ or /ˈɪzriːəl/), officially the State 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, situated at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, Egypt to the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalemis both its designated capital and the most populous individual city under the country's governmental administration. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.[note 2]
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. This UN plan specified borders for new Arab and Jewish states and also specified an area of Jerusalem and its environs which was to be administered by the UN under an international regime. The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day,David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel," which would start to function from the termination of the mandate. The borders of the new state were not specified in the declaration. Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former Palestinian mandate 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 has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (1956–57, 1967–82), part of South Lebanon (1982–2000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been signed. Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the world's longest military occupation in modern times.[note 3]
The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300 people. It is the world's only Jewish-majority state; 6,212,000 citizens, or 74.9% of Israelis, are designated asJewish. The country's second largest group of citizens are denoted as Arabs, with 1,718,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs). 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 Maronites, Samaritans, Dom people and Roma, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans, Armenians, Circassians, Vietnamese boat people, and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.
In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State. Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The Prime Ministerserves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 37th-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2012. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with the one of the highest percentage of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fifth highest in Asia, and has the one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
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