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Home > Virtual Office > Useful Information > About Israel > Towns and Communities

Towns and Communities

 

Michael Paul Gollmer  Enlarge
Haifa Shrine of the Bab (Bahai) and Port

The State of Israel covers less than 8,000 square miles (about 21,000 square kilometers) and is similar in size to the US state of Massachusetts. In addition to the cities and towns in Israel there are several unique types of communities, for instance the moshav, the kibbutz and cooperative communities called “Yishuv Kahilaty.” 

Most cities and towns in Israel are municipalities which are administered by locally elected bodies and officials. In the smaller, more traditional villages and hamlets, the local officials are often representatives of the village's leading families. These types of communities are situated mainly in the outlying areas such as the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Negev Desert region. Most of the largest cities and developed towns are found along the western coastline of Israel; to name a few Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod and Israel’s diamond district Ramat Gan.

The historical City of David, otherwise known as Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, is also Israel's largest city. Tel-Aviv is considered to be the financial center and is the second largest city in Israel. It is situated in the heart of the Dan Region, which is the country’s largest population center.

A closer look at Israel's unique communities is imperative, since they are an integral part of modern Israel and are legendary for their contribution to the establishment of the state. Firstly, there are about 230 kibbutzim in Israel which make up only 3 to 4% of the country's population. The first kibbutzim were founded at the turn of the last century and some have already celebrated their centennials. Originally agricultural by nature, modern kibbutzim have shifted to industry but still maintain their cooperative community lifestyles. Another sort of cooperative community unique to Israel is the moshav. The moshav is similar to the kibbutz but allows for more personal and financial freedom in its administration. More than a century ago, when the country was largely unsettled and undeveloped, the moshav and kibbutz were the practical and ideological answer to the early immigrants' needs for food, shelter and protection as well as realizing the dream of creating communities based on principles of equality and democracy. 

 

The most recent type of community constructed in Israel is the residential community referred to as the “Yishuv Kahilaty,” or community settlement. These communities are organized by groups of homeowners who form the core of a suburban community which includes a few shops and services as well as preschool education. They do not feature cooperative ownership or shared assets, but have a fully independent lifestyle similar to that common to North America and Europe.  

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