officially "State of Israel", Hebrew Medinat Yisra'el, Arabic Isra'il country in the Middle East, located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded to the north by Lebanon, to the northeast by Syria, to the east and southeast by Jordan, to the southwest by Egypt, and to the west by the Mediterranean Sea. The total area is 7,992 square miles (20,700 square kilometres) excluding East Jerusalem and other territories occupied in the 1967 war. Jerusalem is the capital and the seat of government.

Following the United Nations partition of Palestine, Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. It was the first Jewish state to be established in nearly 2,000 years. Its creation represented a fulfillment of the historic ideal of the Jewish people stemming from the traditional religious belief in God's promise of the land of Israel to the people of Israel. The ideal found practical expression in a desire to forge a nation without dependence on the goodwill of others.

Among the population of Israel are hundreds of thousands of immigrants, many of them survivors of Nazi persecution in Europe or victims of anti-Semitism elsewhere. Israeli society has engaged in pioneering activities, including the rehabilitation of neglected agricultural lands. This has led to the creation of a Jewish rural population, which, though it makes up only about one tenth of the total, also represents something almost unknown in the Diaspora (the historical scattering of the Jews in countries outside of Palestine). The revival of the Hebrew language has helped to make possible the assimilation of the newcomers.

Hostile relations between Israel and its neighbouring Arab states have prevailed from the outset, with Israel obtaining victories over the Arabs after battles fought in 1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982. Territory that was occupied by Israeli forces after the conflicts that took place in 1967 and 1973--including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights region of Syria--is mostly is still held by Israel and policed by military rather than civil authorities.