Israel’s Population to Reacfh 6 Million during 50th Year of Independence

(Communicated by the Central Bureau of Statistics Spokesman)
Jerusalem, 31 December 1997

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) estimates Israel’s population at the end of 1997 at 5.9 million, including 4.7 million Jews (80%) and approximately 1.2 million Arabs and others (20%). The rate of population increase for 1997 was 2.5% (144,900), similar to the rate for 1996.

Israel’s rate of population increase is higher than the global average of approximately 1.4%, much higher than that of developed countries (approximately 0.3%), and higher than that of developing countries (approximately 1.7%). The average rate of population increase for the Arab countries bordering Israel (i.e. Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) is approximately 2.1%.

Israel’s Jewish population grew by 91,000 in 1997. Approximately 60% of this figure was through natural increase. The rate of increase for Israel’s Jewish population in 1997 was almost 2.0%, similar to the rate for 1996.

During Israel’s 50th year of independence, its population — which was approximately 873,000 in 1948 — will reach 6 million. Israel has a larger population than such European countries as Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Croatia, Moldova and Lithuania. According to UN estimates, the four Arab countries bordering Israel have a combined population of 87 million.

The countries of the former Soviet Union are still the largest source of immigration to Israel, even though the number of immigrants from them has declined. Approximately 66,500 people immigrated to Israel in 1997 (87% of them from the countries of the former Soviet Union), a decline of approximately 6% from 1996’s total figure of 70,600 immigrants (76,400 immigrated to Israel in 1995).

Since the establishment of the state, more than 2.6 million people have immigrated to Israel: approximately 59% from Europe, 18% from Africa, 15% from Asia, and 8% from the Western Hemisphere and Oceania. The largest number of immigrants have arrived from the former Soviet Union, Poland and Morocco. Since 1948, there have been more than 900,000 immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union, approximately 340,000 from Poland, and 270,000 from Morocco.