Israel is an explicitly Jewish state. About 76.7% of Israelis list Judaism as their religion, and it is official policy to preserve this aspect of the country"s character. Israel, however, is not a theocracy and other religions are respected. Muslims make up 15.8% of Israelis, 2.1% are Christian, 1.6% are Druze and the remaining 3.7% (including Russian immigrants and some Jews) were not classified by religion. Of the Arab Israelis 82.3% are Muslim, 9% are Christian and 8.5% are Druze.
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas, and coal), grains, beef, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains and beef. Diamonds, high-technology, military equipment, software, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables and flowers) are leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government"s external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict; difficulties in the high-technology, construction, and tourist sectors; and fiscal austerity in the face of growing inflation led to small declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002. The economy grew at 1% in 2003, with improvements in tourism and foreign direct investment. In 2004, rising business and consumer confidence - as well as higher demand for Israeli exports boosted GDP by 3.9%.
Currency - New Israeli Sheqel
The New Israeli sheqel (NIS, currency code ILS) is the currency of Israel. The NIS, issued by the Bank of Israel, was introduced on 4 September 1985. It replaced the "old" sheqel, at a rate of one new sheqel per 1000 "old" sheqel. On 18 August 2005, the NIS exchange rate stood at 5.45907 NIS per one euro and at 4.48142 NIS per one USD. Since 1 January 2003, the NIS has been a freely convertible currency.
Main Sporting Events and Achievement in Olympics
The popular sports in the country include soccer (football), basketball, tennis and water sports, like swimming and water skiing. In 1970, Israel qualified for the final stage of the FIFA World Cup tournament in Mexico. Israel won one gold (from sailing) and one bronze (judo) in the 2004 Athens Olympics. In the 2000 Olympics, it won one bronze (canoe/kayak) and another bronze medal (from sailing) in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
As the Holy land, Israel is full with ancient churches, and holy music of various sorts, including ligathorica and Gregorian chanting, either remain popular or have been revived.
Israeli music tends to be very eclectic and contains a wide variety of influences from the Diaspora and more modern cultural importation: Hassidic songs, Asian and Arab pop, especially Yemenite singers, and hip hop or heavy metal. Modern Israeli music is heavily influenced by its constituents, which include Palestinians and Jewish immigrants from more than 120 countries around the world, making Israel a global melting pot.
Israeli folk songs are meant mainly to be sung in public by the audience or in social events. Some are children"s songs; some combine European folk tunes with Hebrew lyrics; some come from military bands and others were written by poets such as Naomi Shemer and Chaim Nachman Bialik. Those songs are very canonical and often deal with Zionist hopes and dream and glorify the life of idealistic Jewish youth who intend on building a home and defending their homeland. Tempo varies widely, as do the content. Some songs show a leftist or right-wing bent, while others are typically love songs, lullabies or other formats; some are also socialist in subject, due to the long-standing influence of socialism on Jews in parts of the Diaspora. Patriotic folk songs are common, mostly written during the Israeli wars.
Israel is well known for its famous classical orchestras and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under the management of Zubin Mehta has a worldwide reputation.
Israel is committed to animal rights. Israel has banned Dissection of animals in elementary and secondary schools and performance by trained animals in circuses.
以色列是一个犹太人国家。大约 76.7% 的以色列人信仰犹太教，官方对此也持支持和保护态度。然而, 以色列并不是一个神权政体，也尊重其他的宗教。 穆斯林教徒大约有15.8% ，2.1% 是基督教徒，1.6% 是德鲁士，而且剩余的占3.7%(包括俄国移民和一些犹太人)是不按宗教分类的。阿拉伯以色列人中 82.3% 是穆斯林，9% 是基督教徒，而8.5%是德鲁士。
以色列有发达的市场经济体制，政府大量参与市场运作。以色列的化石燃料 (原油，天然气和煤)、谷物、牛肉、原材料和军事的仪器设备主要依赖进口。尽管受到其自然资源的限制，在过去20年里，以色列还是集中发展了它的农业及工业。 除了谷物和牛肉以外，以色列的农产品大都可以自给自足。以色列还是主要的钻石、军事设备、医药、精细化工和农产品(水果、蔬菜及花卉)出口国。 以色列政府大量的货币帐户赤字，主要是由海外转帐支付及国外贷款造成的。大概有一半的政府债务来自美国，而美国是以色列政府的主要经济与军事援助国。剧烈的巴以冲突、高技术、建筑业和旅游部门的困难以及财政的紧缩面临的进一步通货膨胀导致了2001年和2002年GDP微微下滑。由于旅游业的改善及外国直接投资的提高，2003年以色列经济以1%增长。2004年,由于商业的恢复和消费者信心的提高，以及国外对以色列出口商品需求的提高促使以色列的GDP以3.9%增长。
新以色列以谢克尔(NIS, 货币代码 ILS) 是以色列的通用货币。从1985 年9月 4 日开始使用，是由以色列的银行发行的。它代替了" 旧的 " 谢克尔, 一个新的谢克尔相当与1000" 旧的谢克尔。 2005 年8月 18 日，NIS 汇率为1欧元= 5.45907 NIS 和1美元=4.48142 NIS。从 2003 年1月 1 日始， NIS成为可自由兑换货币。
在以色列受欢迎的运动有足球、篮球、网球、水上运动犹如游泳和滑水。 1970 年在墨西哥举行的足球世界杯，以色列打入了决赛圈。 在2004年雅典奥运会上，以色列嬴得了一枚金牌 (风帆赛) 和一枚铜牌(柔道) 。在2000年的奥运会中，它嬴得了一枚铜牌 (独木舟/爱斯基摩人用的皮船) ，另外还有1996年亚特兰大奥运会的一枚铜牌 (来自风帆赛)。
作为一片圣地,以色列到处都古老的教堂和各种不同种类的圣歌，包括 ligathorica 和格利高里圣歌，一些是一直流行的，一些是后来复苏的。以色列音乐趋向于兼收并蓄的，包含着来自犹太人的各式各样的影响以及现代的文化引进：Hassidic歌，亚洲人和阿拉伯人流行音乐, 尤其是也门人歌手，还有hip hop和“重金属”电子摇滚乐。以色列有来自全球的 120多个国家的巴勒斯坦人和犹太人的移民，而以色列音乐很大程度上受到了影响。
以色列民谣主要在公共场合或在社会活动中为人们所唱。有的是儿歌；有融合了欧洲的民间乐曲和希伯来人的抒情诗。一些来自军乐队，其它的是诗人 Naomi Shemer 和 Chaim Nachman Bialik 写的乐曲。 这些歌通常涉及支持犹太人复国 运动者的希望和梦，而且赞美理想主义犹太人的年轻人打算过建筑家园和保卫祖国的生活。节奏随着内容有大范围的变化。一些歌代表着左派或右派的倾向，其它的则是典型的情歌、摇篮曲或其他形式的歌曲。由于社会主义对犹太人的持久影响力，还存在一些关于社会主义的主题。爱国的民谣很常见，大多是在以色列战争期间写的。
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