Israel /ˈɪzreɪəl/, officially the State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medīnat Yisrā'el, IPA: [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel] ( ); Arabic: دولة إِسرائيل, Dawlat Isrāʼīl, IPA: [dawlat ʔisraːˈʔiːl]), is a country in Western Asia, on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories (or State of Palestine) comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip on the east and southwest respectively, Egypt and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south, and it contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State; it is the world's only Jewish-majority state.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the partition plan of Mandatory Palestine. On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World 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," a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, 15 May 1948. Neighboring Arab armies invaded Palestine 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 (between 1967 and 1982), part of South Lebanon (between 1982 and 2000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It annexed portions of these territories, including East Jerusalem, but the border with the West Bank is disputed. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem is the country's most populous city and its designated capital, though internationally Jerusalem is not considered to be a part of Israel.
Ethnic groups in Israel include Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Palestinians, Sephardi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Bahrani Jews, Bedouin, Druze, and many other groups. The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300 people, of whom 6,110,600 are Jewish, a large proportion of whom come from mixed ethnic heritage. The country's second largest group are designated as Arabs, with 1,686,000 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, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans, Armenians, Circassians, Roma and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.
Israel is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage. The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel's unicameral legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member, with the 43rd-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2012. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the third highest in Asia, and among the highest life expectancies in the world.
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