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Geography & Topography

Capital: Jerusalem

Area: 22,072 km2

Population: 7,980,900

Language: Hebrew, Arabic

Religion: Jewish, Muslim, Christian

Currency: New Shekel



The State of Israel is situated in Western Asia and is the world’s only Jewish-majority state. Since Israel declared independence in 1948 it has fought a series of wars with neighboring Arab states and currently is in a state of political unrest with the West Bank (Palestine). Israel has a population of almost 8 million people, of which almost 6 million are Jewish. Arab citizens form Israel’s second largest ethnic group, which includes Muslims and Christians, and other minorities such as the Druze, Circassians and Samaritans. Israel has many religious sites of significant importance to Jews, Christians, Muslims and Bahá’í s, including the city of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias and Safed, the White Mosque in Ramla, the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, and the birthplace of Jesus.

Performing Arts

Until recently the main styles of music played in Israel were traditional Jewish Yemenite music, Mizrahi music, classical, jazz and folk music, although today psychedelic trance, pop, rock, rap, hip hop, heavy metal, Hassidic rock and electronic music are also popular.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Israeli music are:


Shofar, an ancient Hebrew instrument used in Jewish religious ceremonies

Shofar: A shofar is an ancient Hebrew instrument used for Jewish religious purposes mostly on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. It is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, which is blown into to make a shrill sound. Each shofar has a different shape and size and produces a slightly different sound.


Cymbals, a common percussion instrument used in traditional Jewish music



Cymbals: Cymbals, usually made of brass, were used in traditional Jewish music. Cymbals are a common percussion instrument consisting of thin, round plates of various alloys.




Sistrum, a percussion instrument originated from Ancient Egypt

Sistrum: The sistrum is a percussion instrument that originated in ancient Egypt. It is a type of rattle with a handle and U- shaped metal frame, usually in brass or bronze. A sistrum is played by holding it upright and shaking it up and down. The small rings of thin metal slide against the structure and create a tinkling sound.


Some interesting facts:

  • Hebrew and Arabic, the two official languages of Israel, are both written from right to left.
  • Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.
  • Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.
  • Israel has the largest raptor migration in the world, with hundreds of thousands of African birds of prey crossing as they fan out into Asia.
  • Jerusalem is a sacred city for Judaism, Islam and Christianity, every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the place and about 40 of them end up at the hospital every year due to the Jerusalem syndrome (delirious state).


Israeli community of Australia:

More information on the Israeli community: