Israel , is a country in Western Asia, on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders withLebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories (or State of Palestine) comprising the West Bank andGaza 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.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 andJordan, but efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have so far not resulted in peace.
Israel's financial center is Tel Aviv, while Jerusalem (if East Jerusalem is included) is the country's most populous city and its designated capital.[note 1] The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2013 to be 8,051,200 people, of whom 6,045,900 are Jewish. Arabs form the country's second-largest group with 1,663,400 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 areChristians and Druze. Other minorities than Arabs include Maronites, Samaritans, Black Hebrew Israelites, Armenians, Circassians 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.