Israel's Population Hits 8.7 Million on Eve of 69th Independence Day

Census includes Jews in West Bank as part of Israelis, but not Palestinians | Jews make up 74.7 percent of the total, while Arabs account for 20.8 percent;

People watch from a Tel Aviv beach as Israeli Air Force helicopters fly over the Mediterranean Sea, during Independence Day celebrations, April 23, 2015.
People watch from a Tel Aviv beach as Israeli Air Force helicopters fly over the Mediterranean Sea, during Independence Day celebrations, April 23, 2015. Reuters

On the eve of the 69th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, the country’s population is 8.68 million – more than 10 times what it was when the state was founded, in 1948. This and other demographic figures were announced on Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics, ahead of Independence Day on Monday.

According to the CBS, 74.7 percent (6.484 million) of Israel’s residents are Jewish, 20.8 percent (1.808 million) are Arab – both Muslim and Christian – while the remaining 4.5 percent (388,000) are non-Arab Christians, members of other religions or people of no religion. There are also 183,000 foreign nationals living in Israel.

It should be noted that the data includes the population within the Green Line with the Golan Heights, but does not include the Palestinian population living in Gaza and in the West Bank, though it does include the Jewish population living in the West Bank. That is, Jews are counted as if the entire territory is one, while Arabs are only counted within the Green Line, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip is not counted at all. The upshot is a close to 75 percent Jewish majority.

In building the census of the number of Jews living in Israel, the CBS also included Israeli Jews who live in settlements in the West Bank, but did not include the Palestinians living there. In other words, Jews were included in the census according to a single territory, which includes Israel and the West Bank, while only Arabs living in Israel proper (and East Jerusalem) were included.

The population grew by 159,000 since last Independence Day, a 1.9 percent increase. The population is projected to reach 15 million on the state’s centennial, in 2048. In the past year, 174,000 babies were born in Israel, 30,000 people immigrated to the country and 44,000 people died.

Three-quarters of Israeli residents were born in Israel, over half of them to parents who were also born here. By comparison, in 1948 only 35 percent of the country’s Jews were born here. Fifty-four percent of the population is between 19 and 64 years old, 35 percent is under 18 and 11 percent are 65 or older.

In 1948 there were 11.5 million Jews in the world, 6 percent of whom lived in Israel. As of 2015 there were an estimated 14.41 million Jews around the world, 43 percent of whom lived in Israel.

Among Jews living in Israel, 44 percent define themselves as secular, 11 percent as religious and 9 percent as ultra-Orthodox. Nearly one-fourth – 24 percent – identify as “traditional but not that religious” while 12 percent say they are traditional-religious.

The population density in 1948 was 43.1 people per square kilometer, whereas today it is 373.2 per square kilometer. The largest city is Jerusalem, with a population of 865,700. The smallest community is Neve Zohar, in the Tamar Regional Council near the Dead Sea, with only 71 residents.

When the state was established there was only one city with more than 100,000 residents, Tel Aviv. Today there are 14 such cities, eight of which number more than 200,000 residents.

Life expectancy for Israeli Jews in 2015 was 80.9 years for men and 84.5 years for women, up from 64.9 years and 67.6 years, respectively, in 1949.

The average age of marriage for women was 26.1 years in 2015, compared to 22.8 years in 1952. The average number of children per woman was 3.1 in 2015, down from four in 1955. For Muslim women this number fell to 3.3 in 2015, from eight in 1955.

In 2015 more than two-thirds of Israelis – 67.6 percent – owned their own homes, compared to just 42.8 percent in 1957.

The number of cars on Israel’s roads reached 3.24 million in 2016, compared to just 34,000 in 1951.

Finally, the statistics show that among Israelis aged 20 and up, 89 percent say they are satisfied with life in Israel, 59 percent are happy with their financial situation, 52 percent believe their life will improve in the future and 44 percent believe their economic situation will get better.