With its history that goes back to the earliest human civilization, the State of Israel is one of the most interesting travel destinations in the world. The reason is obvious: This small country in the Middle East remains a window to biblical times while at the same time keeping up with the rest of the world in the modernity ladder.
Israel’s epic story begins and ends with land conquest – from Moses and the twelve tribes’ journey toward this Promised Land to the country’s persistent dispute with Palestinian-Arabs over territories, which continues to threaten the security in some parts of Israel.
Largely, though, Israel is a safe place with tight security, a never-failing magnet for travelers who desire to have an adventure in its ancient cities and experience the diversity of its culture.
This diversity is reflected in Israel’s society. Due to its history of diasporas and resettlements, Israel is home to culturally different groups of people, with Jews comprising 80% of the population and non-Jews (mainly Arabs and a few ethnic and religious groups) making up the remaining 20%. The Jew and non-Jew populations are subdivided, further creating a patchwork of a culture.
It goes without saying that Israel’s 7.9 million people observe different faiths, in particularly, the three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
These religions are very much represented in Israel’s society, and they form part of the country’s culture and traditions.
This fact explains why Israel is heralded as – and indeed is – a prime pilgrimage and holy destination.
Whether you go as a pilgrim or as a traveler set out to explore an ancient land, expect a vacation filled with wonder and discoveries. Make sure to explore the country in all ways possible. See the holy sites, but remember to observe proper decorum and wear conservative clothing.
And don’t forget to make friends with the locals. Although they are oftentimes very direct and look tough, Israelis are sweet and hospitable people. And because the locals speak very good English, expect to have no language barrier.
English is next to the official languages – Hebrew and Arabic – in importance in Israel, and it is actually widely used in the media.
The borders along Gaza and the West Bank are the riskiest areas in Israel. On the other hand, it is still best to read travel advisories and the news before you go anywhere in the country.
In case you’re bringing electrical devices, know that the country’s electricity runs on 220 volts (50HZ). The Israeli H plug (three-pronged) is mostly used, but the C plug (two-pronged) is also now used for many outlets.