Israel at 50: History

Israel has been a crossroads for humanity from prehistoric times. Today Israel is home to Christians and Muslims as well as Jews from many places, seeking to live peacefully among themselves and with their Arab neighbors.

Anniversary a reminder of Palestinians' anguish
Palestinians are dispersed
A knot to untangle

Israel at a glance
20,770 square kilometers, about the size of New Jersey Israel Map
5.5 million people, nearly 10 times the number in 1948; 82 percent Jewish, 18 percent non-Jewish (mostly Arab)
2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Annual expenditures, $53 billion, including $9.2 billion for defense
U.S. foreign aid, $1.2 billion
Ranks 21st worldwide in gross domestic product; 23rd in standard of living, based on per capita income, life expectancy and educational standard


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