The modern state of Israel was founded in 1948 and is home to just over 7 million people. Israel is an extremely safe country to visit and the Israeli tourist industry growing. In 2008, three million tourists visited the country primarily from the USA, Russia, France, the UK and Germany. This set a new record for inbound tourist. Israel offers the visitor a rich variety of historic and religious sites in the Holy Land as well as modern beach resorts.
Israel is located in Southwest Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and the deserts of Syria and Arabia. The country’s geographical borders are the Mediterranean to the West, the Jordan Valley Rift to the East, the mountains of Lebanon to the North with Eilat Bay marking the country’s southern tip. Although small in territory, Israel’s landscape and climate are varied, and its dense population does not interfere with a wealth of plants and wildlife, as well as many natural attractions.
Israel has much to offer the visitor. The Red Sea resort of Eilat in the very south offers visitors a place to relax with excellent scuba diving in the Red Sea. Its capital city, Jerusalem is one of the most exciting cities which is a melting pot for people, history and culture. The waters of the Dead Sea are renowned for it’s healing properties is a wonderful place to recharge your batteries. Tel Aviv sits on the Mediterranean coast and is Israel’s largest city.
The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS) or shekel for short (pluralized as shkalim in Hebrew or shekels in English). There are 100 agorot (agora in singular) in each shekel. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200; coins are in denominations of NIS10, NIS5, NIS1 and 50, 10 and 5 agorot. Foreign currency can be exchanged without any problems in Israel and major credit cards are widely accepted. It is recommended, though not obligatory, to carry a small amount of US dollars, since certain tourist sites, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem, take payment in dollars.
Visitors holding a full UK passport must ensure there is 6 months validity from their return date. Whilst Israel is as safe for tourists as anywhere, security at airports is taken incredibly seriously and you should read the travel advice issued by both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Israeli Embassy in the UK. Also be aware that several Middle East countries will refuse you entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. When you arrive is Israel, you can ask them not to stamp your passport.
Israeli power sockets use the standard European 2 round pin plugs at 220v 50Hz. Visitors can use standard UK electrical items but will need a UK to European converter which are readily available at UK airports.