Geographic coordinates: 31 30 N, 34 45 E
Area total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Border: total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Coastline: 273 km
Population: 6,029,529 (July 2002 est.)
Density of population: person/km sq
Nationality: noun: Israeli(s)
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
Ethnic groups: Jewish 80.1% (Europe/America-born 32.1%, Israel-born 20.8%, Africa-born 14.6%, Asia-born 12.6%), non-Jewish 19.9% (mostly Arab) (1996 est.)
Religions: Jewish 80.1%, Muslim 14.6% (mostly Sunni Muslim), Christian 2.1%, other 3.2% (1996 est.)
Life expactancy at birth
total population: 78.86 years
male: 76.82 years
female: 81.01 years (2002 est.)
Currency: new Israeli shekel (ILS)
Government: parliamentary democracy
Hatikvah or Hatikva (Hebrew: התקווה "The Hope"') is the national anthem of Israel.
The Hatikvah text was written by the Galician poet Naphtali Herz Imber in Zloczow (Ukraine) in 1878 as a nine-stanza poem named Tikvatenu ("Our Hope").
In 1897, at the First Zionist Congress, it was adopted as the anthem of Zionism; later it was arranged by the composer Paul Ben-Haim, who based the composition partly on ukrainian Jewish folk tunes.
Later the text was edited by the settlers of Rishon LeZion and it underwent a number of other changes until 1948, when the state of Israel was created, and it was proclaimed as the national anthem of Israel.
In its modern version, the anthem text only has the first stanza and chorus of the original poem. The most important addition in those parts is that the hope is no longer to return to Zion, but to be a free nation in it.
It is an interesting, but not widely known fact, that the Tikva was never offically declared as or chosen to be the national anthem of Israel.
The music for Hatikva is based on a folk song of unknown origin. The earliest known appearance in print was early 17th century Italy as "The Dance of Mantua". It has also been recognized in Spanish religious music as the Catholic song "Virgen de la Cueva" ("Virgin of the Cave") and the Jewish song "Prayer for the Dew". It's also recognizable as the Polish folk song Pod Krakowem.
The folk song was also used by a English-Jewish cantor named Meier Leon, who used the stage name Michael Leoni to perform secular and Christian music such as Handel's Messiah. Leon adapted the song into the Jewish hymn Yaigdal for his synagogue. This hymn was later adapted by Welselyan minister Thomas Oliver into the hymn To The God of Abraham Praise.
Bedrich Smetana likely adapted the melody from a Swedish version of the melody, "Ack, Värmeland" and used it for his symphonic poem "The Moldau", part of Má Vlast. This later became a Czech folk song, "Kočka leze dírou".
The modern adaptation of the music for Hatikvah was probably composed by Samuel Cohen in 1888. It's possible that he took the melody from Smetana's work, or that he got the melody from a Romanian version of the folk song, "Carul cu boi" ("Carriage and Oxen").
Hatikvah is written in a minor key, one that may seem depressing or mournful to some people. However, as the title ("The Hope") would indicate, the mood of the song is uplifting.
The great Al Jolson recorded the original lyrics circa 1929. It is still obtainable I believe
כל עוד בלבב פנימה
נפש יהודי הומיה,
ולפאתי מזרח קדימה
עין לציון צופיה -
עוד לא אבדה תקותנו,
התקוה בת שנות אלפים,
להיות עם חופשי בארצנו
ארץ ציון וירושלים.
Kol 'od balevav P'nimah -
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah
Ulfa'atey mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tzion tzofiyah.
'Od lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim:
Li'hyot am chofshi b'artzenu -
Eretz Tzion vi'Yerushalayim
As long as in the heart, within,
A Jewish soul still yearns,
And onward toward the East,
An eye still watches toward Zion.
Our hope has not yet been lost,
The two thousand year old hope,
To be a free nation in our own homeland,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.