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Amazing Facts About Israel That May Surprise You

Updated on December 7, 2015
Old Yaffo, Israel
Old Yaffo, Israel | Source

Do you ever want to visit Israel?

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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.

Pomegranates in Carmel market
Pomegranates in Carmel market | Source

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.

Albert Einstein latte art
Albert Einstein latte art | Source

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.

Tel Aviv beach, Israel
Tel Aviv beach, Israel | Source

Israeli Innovation

  • 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
Israel | Source

Uniquely Israeli

  • 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.

Masada, israel
Masada, israel | Source
Caro Synagogue
Caro Synagogue | Source

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.

Hoopoe
Hoopoe | Source

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.

The Canaan Dog
The Canaan Dog | Source

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

  1. 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.
  2. Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum - Yad Vashem, established in 1953, is the world's largest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Israel Museum - An art and history museum, the Israel museum has 1,000,000 visitors every year.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

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.

show route and directions
A markerHaifa -
Haifa, Israel
get directions

B markerTel Aviv -
Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
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C markerDead Sea -
Dead Sea
get directions

D markerMasada -
Masada, Israel
get directions

E markerJerusalem -
Jerusalem, Israel
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F markerSafed, Israel -
Safed, Israel
get directions

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

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    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 15 months ago from Essex, UK

      Some very interesting facts Chantelle, most of which were new to me. It's not a country that I've really thought about visiting, but your hub certainly raises the possibility.

      It is difficult to talk about Israel without delving into Middle Eastern politics, and although you admirably largely steer clear of that, one fact you present will stick in my mind:

      'Israel is so small that you can run from West to East in 2 hours'.

      Although I have strong sympathies with Palestinian desires for a State of their own, the narrowness of Israel at some points does emphasise the great vulnerability of the nation and the understandability of the determination to protect itself. And Israel must be protected at all costs as the truest and most stable democracy in that volatile region.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 22 months ago from Chicago

      Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Linnea Lewis profile image

      Linnea Lewis 22 months ago from South Carolina, USA

      Very interesting, and informative, thank you for such a fascinating article! I was really thinking of visiting Israel one day, and it gives me even deeper look into this interesting country.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      Thanks!. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 23 months ago from Washington KS

      Great hub!! I've always wanted to visit Israel and your hub took me there. Thanks for the fascinating info and pictures. Well done. (I'd vote it up but can't find any "vote up" area here.)

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      I hope you make it there and share your pictures!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 23 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great story, and you told me things about the hoopoe that I didn't know. I'd love to photograph that bird, so maybe I could go to Israel for the birds one day.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      It is pretty expensive to go there. This is one of those places you save for for a long time. Glad you liked the article.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 23 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Thanks for this fun Hub with beautiful pictures. Israel is on my very, very long list of places I'd love to visit some day ... but it might not happen in this life. Not only am I broke :-), but it looks like the conflict there is getting worse and worse all the time.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      Glad I could help you take a stroll down memory lane.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 23 months ago from south Florida

      I had the good fortune, Chantelle, to visit Israel once and saw many of the cities and historical sites you mentioned. The larger cities are as modern as any in the U.S. and a visit to the Dead Sea was a highlight for me. Imagine floating in a sitting position like you are in a rocking chair with no effort at all. Thanks for this fond deja vu.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      I am so glad you enjoyed it. I always imagined Israel looked like a bunch of sand with some rocks strewn around but parts are amazingly green and beautiful. Thank you for reading the article.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was surprisingly interesting an packed full of information Chantelle. I only really knew anything about Israel from the news and things I have seen on TV. It always looks so unattractive an uninviting. Your hub has made me think ifferently. The Jewish are certainly very innovative. The Canaan dog looks like a white dingo..interesting.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      It is quite amazing what they have been able to accomplish. Before doing this article I had no idea how many of our technological and medical advances came from Israel. I would love to go there someday but from the US it is pricey. Guess I'll just keep saving my pennies. Thanks for reading!

    • esja profile image

      Esmé 23 months ago from South Africa

      Hi Chantelle, I'm very much pro-Israel and am aware of many of its achievements. I often stand amazed at who the Jews are as a people and what they have achieved in such a small space and so little time.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image
      Author

      Chantelle Porter 23 months ago from Chicago

      readmikenow, kalinin and RTalloni-

      I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub. I really wanted to show that there was so much more to Israel than what you see on the evening news and that they have really contributed so much. Thank you for stopping by!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 23 months ago from the short journey

      Thank you for this amazing look at this tiny nation that is trying to survive against all apparent odds. So full of diverse people, yet still Israel, I would love to visit there.

      Your information is quite a look at this country, and it made me smile to think of how beyond that, all the accomplishments and blessings we have because of Jewish peoples' contributions to societies everywhere is simply an extension of who they are.

      In America alone we have a long history of the successful efforts in business, medicine, and more from the Jewish community of interesting peoples. Our lives have been richly blessed through them.

      Something I've found interesting is the response of Israeli hospitals to care for injured terrorists as fellow human beings in the face of all that the Jewish nation is accused of every day.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 23 months ago from California

      Very interesting hub Chantelle! I didn't know most of the facts. Israel is a wonderful country, I've been once, would love to go again! 10 days is not enough for a place as rich and diverse as Israel.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 23 months ago

      This is a lot of good information. I always recommend people visit Israel. They come away with a whole new perception of the country and its people. I was amazed with I was there to discover Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Enjoyed reading this.