The Central Bureau of Statistics has released the latest population figures for Israeli cities and towns.
Israel’s population as of June 30, 2009 stood at nearly 7.43 million – nearly three-quarters of a percent more than it was at the end of 2008. Some 623,000 people (8.4%) live in rural villages and towns of fewer than 2,000 residents.
Israel's growth rate currently stands at an annual rate of approximately 1.5% - compared to 1.188% for the entire world in 2008.
The ranking of Israel’s 20 largest cities did not change. Jerusalem is still the largest city, with a population of 769,400, followed by Tel Aviv (393,200), Haifa (265,300), Rishon LeTzion (226,500), and Ashdod (210,500).
Jerusalem also grew by the largest amount – 5,800 people, just over three-quarters of a percent. It was followed by Petach Tikvah, Israel’s sixth-largest city, which added more than 2,000 more people (just over 1%) in the first half of 2009.
The hareidi-religious city of Modi'in Illit, also known as Kiryat Sefer, jumped next-highest, by 1,800 people - a full 4.3% - to 43,500 people.
Rounding out Israel's top ten cities are Be'er Sheva (up .032% in the first half of 2009), Netanya (.067), Holon (.064), and Bnei Brak (.091).
Only three cities dropped in population during the first half of 2009: Eilat, Tiberias, and Nazareth Illit, each by between 200 and 300 residents.
Growth in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s fastest-growing regions, continued to surpass that of the rest of the country, but slightly less so. Beitar Illit grew during the first half of 2009 by 2.9%, to a population of 35,700 residents, and Beit El grew by 3.7% to a population of 5,600.
Between 1995 and 2007, the population of Judea and Samaria grew by 107%, from 130,000 to 270,000 people - compared with 29% in the rest of the country. From 2005 until 2007, population growth in Judea and Samaria was three times higher than it was in the rest of Israel - 5% a year compared to 1.7%.