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Amazing Facts About Israel That May Surprise You
Do you ever want to visit Israel?
Despite what we see on the nightly news, Israel is a thriving country with a diverse culture that mixes the old with new seamlessly. Established in 1948, they have established a country that leads in technological advances while at the same time worships in the same way as many have for hundreds of years.
Israel and Health
- Israelis consume the most veggies and sweets per capita of any people in the world.
- There are 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv, surpassed in number by only Tokyo and New York City.
- Israel was the first nation to ban the use of underweight models to support the fight against anorexia.
- An Israeli company has developed a device that can monitor coronary disease by using future generations of cell phones.
Energy and Einstein
- Israel has the most Bauhaus buildings in the world.
- There are 137 official beaches in Israel comprising 237 kilometers.
- Beersheba has the most chess grandmasters per capita in the world.
- The Mount of Olives is the oldest and most continuously used cemetery in the world.
- Albert Einstein was offered the Presidency of Israel but graciously turned down the offer.
- Israel has the 3rd highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world.
- Israel has the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women and people over 55 in the world.
- Voicemail technology was developed in Israel.
- The first antivirus software was developed by Israel in 1979.
- Israel is so small that you can run from West to East in 2 hours.
- Jerusalem receives 1000 letters each year addressed to God.
- In 2013, Israel had 34 political parties.
- There are tzedakah (charitable giving) boxes at many Israeli bus stops.
- Israel is the only country in the world to draft women into the military.
Israeli Street Food
Felafel, a deep fried chickpea fritter, is ubiquitous in Israel. Served in a pita with salad and tahini sauce, it is practically Israel's national food.
Schwarma, grilled meat that is either chicken, lamb or turkey, it is also served in pita with salad. It can ordinarily be found right next to felafel on the menu.
Schnitzel, which has its origins in Eastern Europe, is usually chicken or veal that is breaded and fried.
Hummus is pureed chickpeas and tahini and is traditionally served with a drizzle of olive oil and pita bread.
Bourekas are pastries that are filled with potatoes, spinach, cheese or mushrooms. Bourekas are a traditional food in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina that came to Israel with the Jews who emigrated there after the war.
Israel - Perfectly Unordinary
- The glue on Israeli stamps is kosher.
- Israeli doctors are successfully using magnets to treat post traumatic stress disorder.
- An Israeli company developed a workable cardboard bicycle that was made from 100% recyclable materials.
- Israel has developed an anti-date rape straw that changes color in the presence of known date rape medications.
- Israel was the first country to adopt the "Kimberly Process" used to verify that diamonds are conflict free.
Israel's National Symbol - The Hoopoe
The Hoopoe was chosen as Israel's national bird in 2008. Living in holes in trees, cliffs, even small openings in tall buildings, the mother Hoopoe will barricade herself and her babies in their nest and wait for her mate to bring them food. To protect themselves from predators both the mom and chicks can emit a stinky odor to mask their presence and the chicks have also been known to strategically aim their droppings at an enemy.
The Hoopoe male is know to bring insects to a female when he is wooing her. This is referred to as "courtship feeding".
Hoopoes can be identified by their unique flight. Their wings flap in waves resulting in what looks like the flutter of a butterfly.
Despite being located in the oil rich Middle East, when it comes to gasoline Israel is out of luck. Forced to import gas from the US due to an Arab embargo, the cost of gasoline is a whopping $8.28 a gallon.
Israel's National Dog - The Canaan
The Canaan Dog, Israel's national dog, dates back to ancient times and lived in the region that now encompasses modern-day Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. The oldest remains of Canaan's have been found in the caves of Einan and HaYonim and date back 10,000 years.
The breed remained unchanged until 1934 when Dr. Rudolphina Menzel was asked by the Haganah to start a breeding program that would provide dogs for the military. In 1949 she attempted to train the dogs to serve as guides for the blind but found they were too independent and small.
Menzel sent four dogs to the US in 1965 and the Canaan Dog Club was created that same year. The AKC officially recognized the breed in 1997 and it is now the 177th most popular breed in the US.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions
- Old City, Jerusalem - In 1538 CE, defensive walls were built by Suleiman The Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Totaling 2.8 miles in length the height of the wall reaches from 16 feet high up to 49 feet high.
- Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum - Yad Vashem, established in 1953, is the world's largest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust.
- Western Wall - A temple, destroyed by Herod in 70 CE, the Western Wall is all that remains of the original structure. Often referred to as the Wailing Wall, it is a revered holy place in Judaism. Currently the Wall is divided into a Women's and Men's section. There is some controversy surrounding the Wall as women are forbidden to read from the Torah at the Wall, spurring a group known, as Women of the Wall, to fight for religious equality there.
- Masada - An ancient fortress built by Herod, it was the site of a mass suicide of Jews who were determined not to be enslaved by Roman forces during the first Jewish-Roman war.
- Israel Museum - An art and history museum, the Israel museum has 1,000,000 visitors every year.
- Western Wall Tunnels - Running the full the length of the Western Wall, the underground tunnels allow visitors to see an additional 485 meters of the wall that cannot be viewed above ground.
- Old Jaffa - In existence for almost 4000 years as revealed in historical documents, Old Jaffa is a port city that served both the Egyptians and Phoenicians. Today it is filled with art studios, quaint boutiques and a diverse collection of restaurants that serve the many tourists who visit each year.
- Ramon Crater - Created by receding ocean waters, the Ramon Crater, exposed to the elements for millions of years, reveals ancient rock at its bottom that is almost 200 million years old.
- Bahai'i Gardens - A series of 19 terraced gardens, the Bahai'i Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is visited by 500,000 people every year.
- Hezekiah's Tunnel - In the 8th century BCE, as Assyrian forces were marching to take possession of Jerusalem, King Hezekiah ordered his men to dig a tunnel that would divert the water system to flow under the city. Workers dug down 1750 feet through solid rock which can still be visited to this day.
Sderot, a town in Israel which is about a half a mile from the Gaza Strip, has been bombarded by thousands of rockets coming from Gaza over the past fifteen years. This sad fact has resulted in concrete reinforced play structures on children's playgrounds to give them protection from incoming rockets. They have 19 seconds to reach safety.
A fascinating country, Israel has accomplished so much since its inception in 1948. An outpost of democracy and an ally of the US, may it see a bright future.
© 2015 Chantelle Porter