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Economy

Despite a lack of natural resources and the constant drain on the economy created by massive defence expenditure and the absorption since 1948 of over 2.6 million immigrants, Israel has a diversified, modern economy. Its per capita GDP of US$16,800 (1997) places it 21st amongst 200 countries in the world.

Although agriculture accounts for less than 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), intensive farming has made the country virtually self-sufficient and also provides food for export. Principal agricultural products are citrus and other fruits, vegetables and cotton; poultry, cattle, sheep and dairy and livestock products also figure prominently.

Israelís natural resources include copper, phosphates, bromide, potash, clay, sand, sulphur, asphalt, manganese and small amounts of natural gas and crude oil. Its industrial base is broad and includes high-technology electronics, biotechnology, chemicals, metal products, military equipment, transportation equipment, electrical equipment, diamond cutting and polishing, machinery, potash mining, textiles, clothing and food processing. Service industries account for most of the GDP, with tourism playing an important role despite the Palestinian troubles. Exports include machinery and equipment, cut diamonds, chemicals, textiles and apparel, agricultural products and metals; imports include military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, oil and consumer goods. Israelís major trading partners are the United States, the European Union (EU) countries and Japan.

Israelís currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) which comprises 100 New Agorot.