Jerusalem, 29 September 1997


Israel’s Populaton Grew Last Year by 140,000

(Communicated by the Central Bureau of Statistics)

At the beginning of October 1997, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, the population of the State of Israel is estimated at 5,863,000 people. Of this number, over 4.7 million are Jews (80.2% of the total population), 872,000 Muslims (14.9%), about 190,000 Christians (3.2%) and some 100,000 Druze and other faiths (1.7%).

The population of Israel increased in 1996 by 140,000, of whom 88,000 are Jews, representing a lower rate of increase than last year. (The average annual growth rate was 250,000 in 1990-1991, at the height of immigration from the former USSR, and 72,000 in 1980-1989.) About 71,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel during this period. The 2.5% increase in the Israeli population in 1996 was markedly higher than the rate in Europe and North America, somewhat higher than Asia and Latin America, and slightly lower than the average rate in Africa. Population growth in Israel was higher than in Egypt and lower than Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The population of Israel has increased by a total of 26.3% since the beginning of 1990.

Internal Migration: The trend of growing internal migration which has been apparent since 1990, with the arrival and marked mobility of the immigrants from the former USSR, continued in 1996. The areas benefiting most from this trend have been the central and southern districts.

Geographical Distribution: The population of the central and southern districts increased markedly in 1996, with the highest percentage increases recorded in Bet Shemesh, Rosh HaAyin, Pardes Hanna, and Ashdod. The Jewish population of Judea, Samaria and Gaza increased in 1996 by 8.5%

(as opposed to 12% and 15% in 1992 and 1991 respectively) – about 38% of the growth rate due to natural increase. The Jewish population in these areas at the end of 1996 totaled some 150,000 (2.6% of the Israeli population).

Life Expectancy: In the past decade (1985-1995), life expectancy in Israel

(at birth) has increased from 73.5 to 75.5 years for men, and from 77.0 to 79.4 years for women. Life expectancy for Israeli men ranked third in the world in 1994 after Japan (76.6 years) and Sweden, and significantly higher than the United States (72.4 years). Life expectancy for Israeli women in 1994 (79.4 years) ranked 14th worldwide, far behind Japan and Sweden (83.0 and 81.4 years respectively), but slightly higher than the United States (79.0 years).

Tourism: In 1996, 2.5 million departures were recorded for Israelis, a new record high, an increase of 11% over 1995. There was also an increase of 9% in departures by land, reflecting primarily an increase in Israeli tourism to Jordan.

The number of incoming tourists decreased in 1996 to 2,360,000, a decline of 7% compared to 1995. The breakdown of incoming tourists by country of origin: United States – 435,000 (21% of the total); Germany – 222,000

(11%); United Kingdom – 207,000 (10%); France – 173,000 (8%); Italy – 72,000 (3%); and Russia – 65,000 (3%).