Population: Officially estimated in October
1987 at 4,389,600, of whom about 82 percent Jews. Population increasing
at annual rate of about 1.8 percent, although Arab segment of
population increasing at annual rate of about 2.8 percent compared
to Jewish population growth rate of 1.3 percent.
Education: High level of education, literacy
rate of Jewish population about 90 percent. State education either
secular or religious, with independent (but substantially state-supported)
religious schools in addition; ratio of secular to religious enrollments
approximately 70 to 30. Schools are free and compulsory for students
through age fifteen, and are supplemented by scouting, youth movements,
and vocational training. Seven universities.
Health: High level of health and medical care,
with one of highest physician-patient ratios in world. Average
life expectancy of 73.9 for Jewish males and 77.3 for females;
72.0 for non-Jewish males and 75.8 for females. Steadily declining
infant mortality rates. Widespread system of public health and
broad insurance coverage contribute to eradication and prevention
of disease. Many voluntary and charitable organizations, some
funded substantially from abroad, involved in health care.
Languages: Hebrew major official language and
most widely used in daily life. Arabic, chief language of Arab
minority, also official language and may be used in Knesset (parliament)
and courts; also spoken by older Sephardim (Oriental Jews--see
Glossary). English widely spoken and taught in state schools.
Yiddish spoken by older Ashkenazim (see Glossary) and by ultra-Orthodox.
Numerous other languages and dialects spoken by smaller segments
of population, reflecting diversity of cultural origins.
Religion: Judaism dominant faith. Substantial
Sunni (see Glossary) Muslim (about 77 percent of non-Jewish population)
and smaller Christian and Druze (see Glossary) communities also
Data as of December 1988