The amount of attention that the Middle East's strongest economy has always attracted bears no relation to these somewhat unspectacular figures. Israel is constantly present in media and political discourse, primarily attributable to the often war-like conflict between Jews and Palestinians that has been smouldering for more than 60 years.
Languages: Hebrew, Arabic
Area: 20,770 km2 (CIA World Factbook)
Population (2008): 7,112,359 (CIA, includes Israeli settlers in der West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights)
Population density (2008): 342 inhabitants per km2 (CIA)
Population growth (2006): +1.8%
Foreign-born population as a percentage of total population (2006): 33.8%
Share of Arab population (2007): 19.9%
Labour force participation rate (2006): 55.4%
Percentage of foreign-born employees amongst gainfully employed (2007): 6.9%
Unemployment rate: 8.4% (2006), 9.0% (2005), 10.4% (2004) Religions (2004): Jews 76.4%, Muslims 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christians 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, not stated 3.9%
With regard to the subject of migration, too, Israel is unusual in one very important way: the state is virtually built on immigration. Apart from brief interruptions, Jews have immigrated continuously into the originally Ottoman and later British-administered Palestine since 1882. The holocaust in Europe lent the Zionist ideal
The population of Israel has doubled several times over the past 60 years, in particular as a result of immigration. Today the country has 7.1 million inhabitants. Since 1948 more than three million immigrants have been registered, and in the 1990s Israel was even the country with the highest percentage of immigration worldwide in proportion to the size of its population. At the same time, Israel is also a country with an indigenous Arab-Palestinian population that makes up about 20% of the total population figures.
Given the considerable number of Jewish immigrants, questions of integration and of the co-existence of new immigrants with the indigenous population play an important role in Israel. In recent times, migration and integration policy has been faced with newly developing challenges. These include labour migration, refugeeism and illegal residence – challenges with which western immigration countries have been typically confronted up to now.