Despite war and lack of water and natural resources,
Israel is the Middle East's most industrialized country. In
addition, agriculture provides high returns. However,
without extensive US military and financial support (which,
however, has led to Israel having the world's highest
foreign debt per inhabitant), the economy would hardly be
viable. The country has a mixed economy with state,
cooperative and private companies.
Agriculture employs 2 percent of the labor force and
accounts for an equal share of GDP. The lack of water and
the large desert areas means that only 1/5 of the area is
cultivated, of which just over 3/4 is irrigated. The most
important cultivation areas are the northern parts of the
country, especially the Yizre Valley, the coastal plain and
the northern Negev. The highly mechanized Jewish agriculture
is mainly focused on cereals, sugarcane, potatoes and fruits
(especially citrus fruits) and vegetables. Arab agriculture
is more traditional, extensive and needs-oriented. About 80
percent of Israel's land is owned by the state or the Jewish
National Fund. In occupied areas, land ownership is
contentious. Jewish colonists have created various forms of
cooperative and collective farming.
Fishing takes place mainly in Lake Kinnerets, in the
Mediterranean coastal waters and in fish farms. The latter
has the greatest economic significance. Sea fishing accounts
for about 20 percent of the catch.
countryaah, Israel is relatively mineral-poor, but phosphate from the
Negev and mineral salts from the Dead Sea are exported.
Israel accounts for 12-15 percent of world calcium carbonate
production and is one of the world's largest exporters of
bromine and bromine derivatives.
Israel's oil and gas deposits are insignificant, and
pipelines lead imported oil from Eilat on the Red Sea to
Haifa and Ashqelon on the Mediterranean. In 1994,
electricity generation was based entirely on coal and
oil-fired power plants. Controversial plans exist to divert
water from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea for the
production of electricity.
The industry was initially protected by import
restrictions and customs walls. Important products were
soap, vegetable oil, preservatives and building materials.
The many small industries at the kibbutz were of great
Despite the lack of domestic raw materials and fuels,
Israel today has a versatile industrial structure,
especially in the engineering and chemical industries. The
production is mainly based on imports and further processing
of semi-finished products. The electronics and weapons
industries are also significant. Israel is a world leader in
diamond grinding; the approximately 650 grinding mills
handle more than half of the world's rough diamonds, which
are imported from mainly South Africa. The most important
industrial areas are located in and around Tel Aviv and
Israel has long had a significant trade deficit. This has
been partly covered by gifts from Jews living outside Israel
and through revenues from the tourism industry, but above
all through extensive US assistance. Imports mainly consist
of processed goods (gemstones, textiles, iron and steel,
workshop products, electronics) and coal and oil. Exports
consist largely of the same products as well as citrus
fruits. Israel's most important trading partners are the EU
countries, China and the US.
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourism is an important part of the Israeli economy.
However, the number of visitors varies considerably
periodically due to political unrest and terrorism. In 2015,
the country was visited by 2.8 million tourists. Most came
from the US, followed by Germany and the UK.
Many tourists are attracted by Israel's numerous
historical sites and monuments, not least religious ones.
The country also has extensive bathing tourism, which seeks
for the warm climate and beaches of the Mediterranean as
well as Eilat on the Red Sea. Popular among young people is
also working on kibbutz to get to know the country and meet
The gastronomic conditions in Israel can be said to
consist of a mixture of a variety of cultures, strict
religious regulations, a climate that permits the
cultivation of most and a marked dominance of Middle Eastern
cuisine. Vegetables and fruits occupy a prominent place. In
combination with the most common dishes hummus
(chickpea pasta with olive oil) with pita bread and foul
(beans), falafel (fried chickpea balls) and
schwarma (shawarma) or kebab on lamb or
turkey, the result is a useful and inexpensive eating
attitude. Turkey and chicken meat mainly dominates the
Western or Eastern European inspired kitchens. Chicken soup,
dishes on the intestines, on the skin and on the chicken fat
are foods that testify that the diet is adapted to a lean
cash register. Helzel is the neck skin of
a chicken filled with a spiced dough of onions and bread
crumbs and baked in the oven, the vultures being
the crispy fried, shredded skin of a cooked chicken.
Lamb predominates in oriental cuisine; Common in
Jerusalem are malukki (rice, lamb, eggplant and
other vegetables). The spice is generally dominated by
coriander, cumin, mint, turmeric, chili and black pepper,
cardamom, onion and garlic. Carp are grown in males, redfish
are found in Lake Kinnerets and octopus in the sea. The
desserts are oriental sweet and powerful, full of honey,
nuts and almonds.