Although a relatively new country at only 81 years old, Israel is home to many ancient wonders, including the long-lived city walls of Jerusalem, old olive groves of Gethsemane, and mysterious waters of the Dead Sea. But do you know why we float? Read on to discover the secret to floating on the Dead Sea and more fascinating facts about Israel.
1. Israel is home to 80,000 dogs
Dog lovers, rejoice! Israel is home to 80,000 dogs that enjoy long walks in the 60 dog parks across the country. What’s more, the biggest dog cemetery in the world was discovered in Ashkelon National Park. Archaeologists suggest that it’s the result of a religious cult that believed in the healing powers of dog saliva (…yuck).
2. Israel has the highest proportion of start-ups
Also known as the “Startup Nation”, Israel has the largest number of start-ups per capita in the world. There is approximately one start-up per 1,400 people. Many are doing great things, like Intuition Robotics, whose social companion technology is improving the lives of older people.
3. It’s the chess master capital of the world
The sleepy Israeli city of Be’er Sheva is home to a few chess champions – 20,000 to be precise. The city holds the world record for the highest number of chess grand masters per capita. Check mate.
4. The USB stick is an Israeli invention
This handy little stick was invented by Dov Moran, an Israeli entrepreneur, inventor and investor. He is one of the most prominent Israeli hi-tech leaders in the world. Born to a family of Holocaust survivors, Dov’s interest in technology was apparent from a very early age. He would order electronic parts from MAD magazine, in the hope of inventing something new. In the late ’90s, he did just that. The USB changed the way we share information forever.
5. Home to the first transgender person to win the Eurovision song contest
Home to one of the friendliest LGBTQ+ cities in the world (Tel Aviv), it was no surprise when Israel entered the first transgender contestant into the 1998 Eurovision song contest. Not only that, Dana International went on to win! With LGBTQ+ hotels, bars, beaches and gyms located across Tel Aviv, it’s no surprise that the city is a popular travel destination with the LGBTQ+ community.
RELATED CONTENT: Which country is the most LGBTQ+ friendly for travellers?
6. People on average live to 84
Ranked seventh in the world for longevity, Israelis are expected to live to the grand old age of 84. Why is Israel’s life expectancy so high? Unsurprisingly, money. More money means greater access to health care. But a “Mediterranean-style” diet consisting of fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, gorgeous sunshine and long daylight hours, also help.
7. Israelis invented a pill that can photograph your body from the inside
Probably one of the less obvious facts about Israel, but maybe the most fascinating. Developed in Israel, the PillCam is a non-invasive, painless way to diagnose gastrointestinal irregularities. Its precise image capturing helps doctors to clearly detect abnormalities and make a more accurate diagnoses.
8. Tel Aviv is one of the vegan capitals of the world…
Knocking Berlin off the top spot, the self-proclaimed “Vegan Nation” is home to 400,000 vegans. With mouth-watering dishes like khinkali dumplings, sambusak, Basbousa and more than 400 vegan/vegan-friendly restaurants dotted across the city, you’re spoiled for choice.
RELATED CONTENT: Where to eat in Tel Aviv, Israel’s blossoming foodie capital
9. …and second only to Tokyo in the number of sushi bars per square metre
Not only is it a vegan mecca but also a sushi lover’s dream, with more than 100 sushi restaurants in the city serving everything from kosher sushi to Inari (fried tofu pockets). Arguably, the best restaurant in town is Onami. Why? Warm atmosphere, elegant decor and the most beautiful sushi. Try the agedashi tofu, you won’t regret it.
10. Israelis consume 10 litres of ice cream a year
Giving Italians a run for their money, Israelis consume between 8 – 10 litres of ice cream a year. And they’ve got some pretty wacky flavours too. From Bulgarian cheese & watermelon, to olive oil & caramelised cherry tomatoes, when it comes to Israel anything is popsicle.
11. The only place in the world where the number of trees increases year by year
Israel is one of the only of the places in the world that entered the 21st century with more trees than it had 100 years ago. Tree planting is an ancient Jewish tradition. Since 1948, Israel has been dedicated to afforestation and sustainable forest management. As a result, the country is now home to over 200 million trees.
12. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world
OK, so this may be one of the better known facts about Israel, but do you know when the city was founded?* Not only is it very old but it’s incredibly sacred. Jerusalem is home to several holy sites held in deep reverence by billions of people around the world. For Christians these include the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden Tomb and the Garden of Gethsemane. For Muslims, both the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque are sacred spots, the latter being the third holiest mosque in Islam.
13. You can float in Israel’s Dead Sea
Always wondered why we float on the Dead Sea? Well, the extremely high concentration of dissolved mineral salts in the water causes the water to be denser than fresh water. Since our body weight is lighter (less dense) than the density of the water, our body is more buoyant in the Dead Sea, making us float.
14. Emmy winning series Homeland was written in Israel
Homeland is based on the series Prisoners of War, written by Israeli born Gideon Raff. The series was the country’s highest-rated drama of all time and went on to win several Israeli television awards. Even before filming Prisoners of War began, the rights to develop an American version of the series had been sold to 20th Century Fox Television.
Fancy uncovering more of Israel for yourself? Take a look at our Best of Israel and Jordan with Dead Sea extension trip. Know any unusual facts about Israel? Share them in the comments below!