Area: 22,072 km ²
Climate: variable, but windy and cold in the mountainous regions and a Mediterranean climate in the coastal cities
Population: 7,653,600 (est. 2010)
Languages: Hebrew, Arabic
Government Type: Parliamentary democracy GDP: $206.430 billion (est. 2009)
GDP-per capita (PPP): $29,000 (est. 2009)
Information for Foreign Students in IsraelGetting There Israel's main international airport is Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport which is located approximately 40km from Jerusalem and 12 km from central Tel Aviv, and serves both cities. Ben Gurion acts as a hub for Israel's three main international airlines, El Al Israel's largest airline and flag carrier offering flights across the globe, Arkia Israel Airlines, Israel's largest domestic airline who also serve a number of European destinations, and Israir who also serve many European destinations as well as New York City. Note that security measures above and beyond what you might encounter in most countries are taken for flights both to and from Israel - these, of course, are undertaken for your and other passengers' safety and security. Arriving at the terminal at least three hours before your flight is well advised, as Israeli security procedures can be time-consuming. Bag inspection, both by machine and hand, is routine and should be expected, in addition to repeated interviews about your time in Israel. Keep your cool in what can be a frustrating time - it really is done with the best intentions, if not always the most elegant execution. Having the telephone number of friends or colleagues you may have spent time with in Israel, and who can vouch for you, always helps the process. If travelling as part of a group, they will usually question you separately before cross checking your accounts.
Obtaining a Visa Citizens from most European and North American countries as well as Argentina, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Russia do not need a visa prior to arrival. Note that German citizens born before January 1, 1928, do have to apply for a visa in advance. This visa will be given if you were not heavily involved in events during the Nazi era and will be valid for the whole time your passport is valid. Further note that in some Arab states it constitutes a crime for their citizens to enter Israel at all. Even if you're an Arab-born citizen of a European or North American country having entered Israel may have consequences when returning to your country of birth. Note that Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen block passports containing stamps or visas from Israel. If you intend to visit any of these nations, ask immigration to stamp a blank page, rather than your passport, when entering. Note that those countries will also search for Jordanian/Egyptian exit stamps from land borders with Israel and will likewise prohibit your entry if they find one.
Israel is host to a huge variety of accommodation options, from camping and hostels through to 5-star luxury hotels. Accommodation in Israel is similar to Western standards in general both in terms of price and what you can expect as service.
Cost of Living Living and travelling costs in Israel are almost on a par with Western Europe, North America and Australasia, making it by far the most 'expensive' country in the Middle East region outside the Gulf area.
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). ATMs are available everywhere. Credit cards of all kinds are widely accepted.
There are no special medical issues in Israel, and no immunizations are necessary for travel here. Pharmacies and hospitals are available in all major cities and emergency and health care is to a very high Western standard. Pharmacists and all medical personnel speak adequate English.
In general, travel to Israel is safe, and most other crime rates are well below those found in most other Western Countries. There is a risk of violence between Israeli Forces and Palestinian Militants only in the West Bank and Gaza; additionally, there is a slight risk of further military action between Israel and other countries. Currently the situation makes travel safe. Use prudence if you plan to travel to the Palestinian territories.
Buses are the most common form of public transportation for Israelis and travelers alike. They are cheap, fast and reliable. Faster than normal buses are minivans, known as monit sherut or 'service taxi', that generally follow major bus routes but can be hailed from anywhere on the route (not just official bus stops). They are usually somewhat cheaper and somewhat quicker than buses, their operations hours may be longer - and maybe most importantly, in many cases the sherut runs 7 days a week, including on Shabbat. One of the best advances in transport in Israel in recent years has been the modernization of the train system, now set for major expansion as part of the country's efforts to combat global warming, gridlock, and smog. Train fares are generally more expensive then equivalent bus fares (especially for the line from Tel Aviv to Beer Sheva, with a train fare almost double that of the bus fare). In exchange, you can generally expect a much higher level of comfort, speed, and safety.