Though known as the Jewish State, Israel is a complex multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with around 8.5m inhabitants – approximately 75% Jewish, 21% Arabs (including Muslims, Christians and Druze) and 4% other ethnic groups. A new law passed in 2018 made Hebrew the sole official language of Israel.
Israel’s history has been complex since it gained independence from Britain in 1948. Long-lasting conflicts with the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states remain unresolved, and many Muslim countries do not recognise Israel as a nation state. It has normal diplomatic relations with most other countries.
Officially the capital is Jerusalem; however, Tel Aviv, with a metropolitan area of around 3.7m inhabitants, is internationally regarded as the effective capital.