Israel’s Population at 69 Is 8.68 Million

A view of Yerushalayim, the largest city in Israel, seen during a sunset, on top of Mt. Scopus. (Esther Rubyan/Flash90)

Israel’s population on the eve of its 69th anniversary is 8.68 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) announced Thursday, in advance of Israel Independence Day, to be commemorated next Tuesday. According to the statistics, 74.7 percent of the population, or 6,484 million, is Jewish, while 20.8 percent, or 1.808 million, are Muslim Arab. Four and a half percent, or 388,000, are Christian Arabs. The rest are non-Arab Christians or members of other religions. A total of 183,000 foreign workers from Africa, Europe, and Asia live in Israel as well.

Israel’s population increased 159,000 since last Independence Day, at a rate of 1.9 percent. Over the last year, a total of 174,000 babies were born, 30,000 people immigrated to the country, and 44,000 people passed away. Seventy-five percent of Israel’s Jewish population was born in Israel, the highest percentage ever – and half are at least second-generation Israelis. In 1948, when the state was established, less than 1 percent of the citizens of the new state was native-born.

In terms of age, Israel is a young society. Fifty-four percent of Israelis are between the ages of 19 and 64, while the under-18 number constitutes 35 percent of the country’s population. Eleven percent of Israelis are aged 65 and older. According to the CBS, there are currently 14.41 million Jews in the world, 43 percent of them living in Israel.

Forty-four percent of Israelis call themselves “secular,” while the rest identify themselves along a religious spectrum from “traditional” to “chareidi.” A total of 32 percent identify themselves as “observant,” “religious,” or “chareidi.”

The biggest city in Israel continues to be Yerushalayim, with 865,700 people. The smallest town in Israel is Neve Zohar, a small village in the Negev, which has an official population of 71 people. In general, Israel is a crowded country; the population density in the country is 373.2 per square kilometer, compared to 43.1 per square kilometer in 1948. Currently, there are 14 cities in Israel with populations exceeding 200,000.

Israelis on average get married at 26.1 years of age, and the birth rate among all Israelis is 3.1. Among Jews, that figure is 3.1 as well, somewhat lower than in 1995, when the rate was 3.6. The major change has come among Muslims, who in 1955 had an average of 8 children per family; today that figure is 3.3, almost the same as the Jewish population.

While few would deny that there is a housing problem in Israel today, with homes too expensive for many people, things have improved considerably in this area as well, the CBS said. In 1957, 42.8 percent of Israelis owned their own homes, a figure which has climbed to 67.6 percent of the population today. The percentage of people renting a home has plummeted during that time span, from 57.2 percent to 26.7 percent today.

And, the CBS said, it counted 3.24 million vehicles traveling on Israeli roads – compared to 34,000 in 1951 – a growth factor of 95 fold.