Israel's Christian Population Numbers 148,000 as of Christmas Eve

130,000 of population are Arabs, while 28,000 came to Israel with their Jewish families from Russia or Ethiopia.

Moti Bassok
Haaretz Correspondent
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Moti Bassok
Haaretz Correspondent

Israel's Christian population numbered 148,000 as of Christmas Eve, 2.1 percent of the total population.

Most, about 120,000, are Arabs, while 28,000 came to Israel with their Jewish families under the Law of Return, mainly during the wave of immigration from Russia and Ethiopia in the 1990s.

Although most of the Christian population is Arab, its demographic patterns more closely resemble those of the Jewish population: According to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average Christian household contains 3.5 persons, as compared to 3.1 persons in Jewish households and 5.2 in Muslim ones.

In 2005, 33 percent of Christians were under age 19, the same as among the Jewish population. However, 55 percent of Muslims were in this age range.

The average bridegroom in a first marriage was aged 28.7 in 2004, one year older than the average Jewish bridegroom and three years older than the average Muslim. The average bride was 23.5, one year younger than the average Jewish bride, but three years older than the average Muslim bride.

As a result of their declining natural population growth, Christians are declining as a proportion of the total population. In 1948, Christians totaled 2.9 percent of the population, and in 1972, the figure was 2.3 percent of the population.

The percentage of matriculating students among Christians is the highest of any religious sector, at 64 percent. This compares with 55 percent of Jews, 50 percent of Druze and 45 percent of Muslims.

Some 98 percent of Christian Israelis are urban residents, as compared to 91 percent of Jews and 93 percent of Muslims. 60 percent of all Christians live in the north, with one third of these living in Nazareth and 15 percent in Haifa.

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