Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
Religious Adherence, 2009 (other estimates)2
Based on its pre-1967 borders, the country has an area of 7,685 square miles and a population of 7.3 million, of which 5.5 million are Jewish, 1.5 million are Arabs, and 320,000 are classified as "other"--mostly persons from the former Soviet Union who immigrated under the Law of Return but who did not qualify as Jews according to the Orthodox Jewish definition or the definition used by the Government for civil procedures. According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2005, the latest year such information was available, 7 percent of the Jewish population are Haredi, 10 percent are Orthodox, 38 percent describe themselves as "traditionally observant" or "traditional," and 45 percent describe themselves as "secular" Jews, most of whom observed some Jewish traditions. A growing but still small number of traditional and secular Jews associate themselves with the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist streams of Judaism, which are not officially recognized for purposes of civil and personal status matters involving their adherents. Although the Government does not officially recognize them, these streams of Judaism received a small amount of government funding and were recognized by the courts. There is a small but growing community of approximately 10,000 Messianic Jews.
Slightly more than 20 percent of the population is non-Jewish, the vast majority of whom are ethnic Arabs. Of the non-Jewish population, Muslims constitute 16.5 percent, Christians 2.1 percent; Druze 1.7 percent; other religious groups 0.5 percent, including relatively small communities of, among others, Messianic Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Baha'is.
The Government reported that during 2007 it issued 88,500 permits for foreigners to work in the country, and estimated that another 84,000 illegal foreign workers reside in the country. Most foreign workers are Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim.
Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.
1. The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
3. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.