ISRAEL. Before you go!

·                                 CAPITAL OF ISRAEL: JerusaleM

·                                 GOVERNMENT: Parliamentary Democracy

·                                 OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Hebrew, Arabic, (English is widely spoken in all parts of the country)

·                                 POPULATION: 8.1 Million

·                                 CURRENCY: New Israeli Shekel (NIS), 1 Shekel = 100 Agorot (singular: agora) Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 200, 100, 50 and 20 shekels and coins of 10 shekels, 5 shekels, 2 shekels, 1 shekel, 50 agorot and 10 agorot.

·                                 POPULAR CITIES: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa & Eilat

·                                 INTERNATIONAL CALLING CODE: +972

·                                 INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CODE: TLV (BenGurionInternationalAirport) VDA (OvdaInternationalAirport)

·                                 CROSSING BORDERS BY LAND: You can travel betweenIsrael,JordanandEgypt, but should check with the relevant embassies if you need a visa to these countries

·                                 VACCINATIONS: Visitors enteringIsraelare not required to undergo vaccinations prior to their arrival.

·                                 TRANSPORTATION: Egged is the leading public transport operator inIsraelaccounting for over 60% of all public transport services through out the country. Dan is the largest public transportation company in the area of greater Tel Aviv. Public transport service stops at sundown Fridays and resumes at sundown Saturdays, but a shared 10-seater van service called “Sherut” is available on an inter-city and local bus routes and charges fares about 30% higher than a bus.

·                                 CAR RENTAL: To rent a car inIsraelthe driver must be over 21 years of age, and must have a valid international drivers license and an international credit card.

·                                 DRIVING: Driving inIsraelcan be a challenge. Speed limits are in kilometers: 50 kph in the city, 80 on inter-city roads and 90 on highways, unless otherwise specified. Seat belts must be worn in  front and in back at all times. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed in the front seat unless they are infants in a safety seat. Driving is on the right; passing is on the left.

·                                 DRINKING: It's hot inIsrael. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Alcohol is not recommended in high temperature zones in mid-day. Minimum alcohol drinking age is 18.

·                                 ELECTRICITY: 220 volt AC, single phase, 50 Hertz

·                                 CURRENCY EXCHANGE: It is possible to charge currency in all major banks and post office as well as licensed exchange points all over the country.

·                                 ATM: Most ATM’s accept all major credit cards such as Master Card, Visa, Diners, and American Express.

·                                 SHABBAT: All public offices inIsraelare closed on Shabbat (Friday afternoon – Saturday), as are most private businesses. In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) does not operate, and most, but not all, restaurants are closed with exception of Tel Aviv where most restaurants and coffee shops are open for business. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.

·                                 TIPPING: It is customary to tip waiters adding 10%-15% to the bill, and taxi drivers with 5%.

·                                 SECURITY: Security guards at public buildings such as shopping malls may often check your bags. Be cooperative - it is for your safety too. Never leave your bag unattended!

·                                 EMERGENCY NUMBERS: Police – 100 Ambulance – 101 Fire Department 102.

·                                 CLIMATE: On average, January is the coldest month with average temperatures ranging from 6 °C (43 °F) to 15 °C (59 °F), and July and August are the hottest months at 22 °C (72 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F) on average across the country. Summers are very humid along the Mediterranean coast but dry in the central highlands, the Rift Valley, and theNegevDesert. In Eilat, the desert city, summer daytime-temperatures are often the highest in the state, at times reaching 44 °C (111 °F) to 46 °C (115 °F).More than 70% of the average rainfall inIsraelfalls between November and March; June through September are usually rainless. Rainfall is unevenly distributed, significantly lower in the south of the country. In the extreme south, rainfall averages near 30 millimeters (1 in) annually; in the north, average annual rainfall exceeds 900 millimeters (35 in).