51 Facts About Israel That Will Surprise You

The highs and lows of your AOL Instant Messaging years and the lowest place on Earth have something in common. These tidbits and 49 other facts will have you ReThinking what you thought you knew about Israel.

1. There are over 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv…
2. …making it the city with the most sushi restaurants per capita after Tokyo and NYC.
3. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship in the world.
4. It has the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women and people over 55 in the world.
5. Israel was the first country to ban underweight models.
6. Israeli banknotes have braille markings on them.
7. Israel won the Eurovision song competition three times.
8. The last time they won, they were represented by a transgender pop star, Dana International. The only other time that’s happened is this year’s winner, Conchita Wurst, from Austria.

Peter Bischoff / Getty Images

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / Getty Images

 

9. Israelis consume the third most amount of vegetables and sweets in the world.
10. When Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel in 1969, she was only the third woman elected to lead a country in the modern world.
11. The largest known dog cemetery in the ancient world was discovered in the coastal city of Ashkelon.
12. There’s a rollerblading party that happens every Tuesday night in Tel Aviv.
13. Out Magazine names Israel the gay capital of the Middle East.
14. The country has the most Bauhaus buildings in the world.
15. Israel has 137 official beaches (but only 273 km of coastline).

16. In regards to its population, Israel has the highest ratio of college degrees.
17. The same goes for the ratio of its museums
18. …and startup companies!
19. Motorola developed the cell phone in Israel.
20. Voicemail technology was developed in Israel.
21. The first antivirus software for computers was created in Israel in 1979.
22. Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic.
23. Israel published more books translated from other languages than any other nation in the world.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / amazon.com

The Giving Tree / amazon.com

Mockingjay / amazon.com

 

24. The city of Beersheba has the highest number of chess grandmasters per capita in the world.
25. Only two countries began the 21st century with a net gain in their number of trees; Israel was one of them.
26. The opening scene of the Al Pacino film The Insider was shot in Israel.
27. Haifa, Israel has one of the smallest subway systems in the world with a 1.8-km track and only four carriages — how cute!
28. Israel is one of only three democracies in the world without a codified constitution. The other two are New Zealand and Britain.
29. The Sea of Galilee — located .212 km below sea level — is the lowest freshwater lake in the world (and the largest in Israel).
30. The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth. Period.
31. People can easily float in the Dead Sea due to its unusually high salt concentration. It’s almost impossible to dive into it.

IsraelTourism (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Flickr: visitisrael

32. Israel is the only country to revive an unspoken language and establish it as its national tongue.
33. Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives is the world’s oldest continuously used cemetery.
34. El Al, Israel’s national airline, set the world record for the most passengers on a commercial flight.
35. The world’s largest pepper was grown in Israel’s Moshav Ein Yahav, as recorded by The Guinness Book of World Records in 2013.
36. Life expectancy at birth in Israel is at 82 years (two years more than the OECD average).
37. Eilat and the Hula Valley Reserve are some of the best bird-watching sites in the world
38. Israel’s national bird is the hoopoe.

Antony Grossy (CC BY 2.0) / Flickr: atony

39. Heart tissue regeneration is possible in the U.S. thanks to Israeli stem-cell technology.
40. A cooking oil developed in Israel is capable of breaking up cholesterol and other blood fats.
41. An Israeli company has developed the world’s first jellyfish repellent.
42. Israel is one of only nine countries in the world that can launch its own satellites into space.
43. AOL Instant Messaging was designed by an Israeli software company.
44. Yityish Aynaw became Israel’s first Ethiopian Miss Israel in 2013.

AVISHAG SHAR YASHUV / EPA / Newscom

45. Israeli scientists have discovered the cause of chronic bad breath and an easy way to fix it!
46. More than 44% of all lawyers registered in Israel are women.
47. Israel chose its first woman president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, who served from 2006-2012.
48. Israel has the world’s second highest per capita of new books.
49. A group of Israeli artists have started bus stop libraries that are available free of charge to commuters traveling across Israel.
50. Israel’s national flower is the Cyclamen persicum.
51. Last Valentine’s Day, 60 million Israeli flowers were sent to Europe for sale.

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