As the sun sets on the year 2009, many Israelis reflect on how good their lives have been – especially those blessed with one of the country's 160,000 new babies.
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) has released population data and statistics for 2009, showing the population grew by 1.8%, as it did last year, and in the five years before that. There are now 7,509,000 Israeli citizens.
Not all the population growth was due to Israel's bountiful birthrate, however – over 16,000 Jewish immigrants also arrived over the past year from countries all over the world.
Israelis also said goodbye to 39,000 souls who passed on in 2009.
The Jewish state continues to hold strong with an overwhelming Jewish majority – Israel's Jews now make up 75.4% of the population, or 5,664,000 people, Arabs are 20.3%, or 1,526,000 citizens, and the remaining 4.3% (319,000) are registered by the Interior Ministry as "others".
This year's birthrates indicate a continuing increase in the Jewish birthrate, and a continuing decrease for Arabs. Jewish families expanded to 2.96 children per household on average, up from 2.8 children per home in 2008. The opposite is the case for Arab families: in 2008, Arab women had an average of 3.84 children, down for 2 years in a row, having reached 3.97 in 2007.
Israel's population is very young in relationship to the Western world. While nearly 30% of Israelis are under the age of 14, just 17% of citizens of other Western countries are that age.