On eve of 2011, Israel's population reaches 7.7 millionBy RUTH EGLASH
In terms of ethnic divisions, Israel's Jews now count for some 5,802,000 or 75.4 percent of the population; Arabs 20.4% or 1,573,000 people and the remaining 320,000, 4.2%, people not registered as Jews or Arabs by the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority.
Overall, the numbers show a steady growth rate of 1.9% or an increase of 143,000 individuals to the population over the past year, a rise that has been consistent since 2003 and that reflects a similar growth rate to the 1980s, prior to the mass aliya of Jews from the Former Soviet Union during the 1990s.
Of the 143,000 individuals that joined the Israeli population in 2010, the majority (88%) was the result of births; and the rest were either as new immigrants (16,000) or children born to returning ex-pat Israelis (6,000). An additional 4,000 came to Israel under a special government program that unites non-Jewish relatives with their families here.
According to CBS statistics released three months ago, Israel is still a fairly young nation with 28% of its population being under the age of 14, compared to 17% in most other Western countries and only 10% of the population being over 65. In other Western countries that average is closer to 15%.
The data also shows that the average Jewish family still hovers between 2.8 and 2.9 children. In the Muslim community, the average number of children per mother is 3.73 and among Christian families its 2.1.
In terms of demographic distribution, the majority of the Jewish population is concentrated in Jerusalem or the center of the country, including Tel Aviv, and 60% of the Arab population lives in the North.
In fact, annual data from the CBS shows that while one fifth of the general population lives in the North, only 10% of those people are Jewish. In the South, the split falls in the opposite direction, with only 11% of the population there being Arabs, mostly Bedouins.