The roots of the culture of Israel developed long before the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and reflect Jewish history in the diaspora, Jewish culture, the ideology of the Zionist movement that developed in the late 19th century, as well as the history and traditions of the Arab Israeli population and ethnic minorities that live in Israel, among them Druze, Circassians, Armenians and more.
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are considered the main cultural hubs of Israel. The New York Times has described Tel Aviv as the “capital of Mediterranean cool,” Lonely Planet ranked it as a top ten city for nightlife, and National Geographic named it one of the top ten beach cities.
With over 200 museums, Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world, with millions of visitors annually. Major art museums operate in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Herzliya, as well as in many towns and Kibbutzim. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra plays at venues throughout the country and abroad, and almost every city has its own orchestra, many of the musicians hailing from the former Soviet Union. Folkdancing is popular in Israel, and Israeli modern dance companies, among them the Batsheva Dance Company, are highly acclaimed in the dance world. The national theatre, Habima was established in 1917. Israeli filmmakers and actors have won awards at international film festivals in recent years. Since the 1980s, Israeli literature has been widely translated, and several Israeli writers have achieved international recognition.
Israel is located, between 29°-33° north of the equator, which is characterized as a subtropical region, between the temperate zone and the tropical zone. The northern and coastal regions of Israel show Mediterranean climate characterized by hot and dry summers and cool rainy winters.
Time & Date: GMT +3
The Israeli new shekel (Hebrew: שֶׁקֶל חָדָשׁ Sheqel H̱adash; Arabic: شيقل جديد shēqel jadīd; sign: ₪; code: ILS), also known as simply the Israeli shekel and formerly known as the New Israeli Sheqel (NIS), is the currency of Israel and is also used as a legal tender in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The new shekel is divided into 100 agora. The new shekel has been in use since 1 January 1986, when it replaced the hyperinflated old shekel at a ratio of 1000:1.
The currency sign for the new shekel ⟨ ₪ ⟩ is a combination of the first Hebrew letters of the words shekel (ש) and ẖadash (ח) (new). Alongside the shekel sign, the following abbreviations of NIS, ש”ח and ش.ج are also used commonly to denominate prices.
The Israeli population is a linguistically and culturally diverse community. The 19th edition of Ethnologue lists 35 languages and dialects spoken in local communities. Hebrew, which is one of the country’s two official languages, is the primary language of Israel, and almost the entire population speaks it either as native speakers or proficiently as a second language. Its standard form, known as Modern Hebrew, is the main language used for communication. Arabic, used mainly by Israel’s Arab minority, which comprises about one-fifth of the population, is the country’s second official language. English, spoken as a second language by the majority of the Israeli population, is used widely in official logos, road signs and product labels. Russian, spoken by the large immigrant population from the former Soviet Union, is also heavily used.
Modern Hebrew emerged as a result of the revival of the Hebrew language that began the late 19th century, and is based on different dialects of ancient Hebrew and somewhat influenced by many languages (English, Jewish languages, Slavic languages, Arabic, Aramaic, German and others).
According to a 2011 Government Social Survey of Israelis over 20 years of age, 49% report Hebrew as their native language, Arabic 18%, Russian 15%, Yiddish 2%, French 2%, English 2%, 1.6% Spanish, and 10% other languages (including Romanian, German and Amharic, which were not offered as answers by the survey). This study also noted that 90% of Jews and over 60% of Arabs have a good understanding of Hebrew.
When buying your travel insurance, always check the small print – some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which could be anything from scuba diving to horse riding. You should check whether the medical coverage is on a pay first, claim later basis and, more importantly, ensure that your medical coverage includes the cost of medical evacuation.
A B/2 visa is granted to someone who wishes to stay in Israel for only a short time (for a visit, tourism, a business meeting or study in a Hebrew ulpan). A person who enters Israel on a B/2 visa is not allowed to work in the State of Israel.
A B/2 visa is valid for up to three months from the date of issue. The duration of the stay in Israel will be determined by the Border Police. A visitor who wishes to extend his visit may submit an application at one of the regional population administration offices of the Ministry of the Interior.
The visa will be issued by the mission upon provision of the following:
• A completed and signed application for a visa to enter Israel (Download the application for Visa to enter Israel).
• Itinerary including plane ticket, and hotel reservation information or address of where you will be staying
• Passport (must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of the stay in Israel) or travel document (must be valid for at least one year beyond the period of the stay in Israel)
• Two passport pictures.
• Health Insurance (a letter stating that you are fully covered for your international travel).
• Letter from Employer, stating that you are currently employed and will continue to work once you return from your trip,
• Valid re-entry visa to the United States OR original permanent resident (Green card).
• Payment of the fee (Table of Fees)
Tel Aviv Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion
Eilat Eilat-J. Hozman3
Haifa Haifa-U. Michaeli
Currency: New Shekel
Population: 8.55 million
Official languages: Hebrew, Arabic