What continent is Israel in?

Israel is a country in Asia. It is located on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in the region known as the Middle East.

Although Israel is geographically located in Asia, the country has strong historical, cultural, sporting and economic links with Europe. Additionally, one of its neighbours is one of the largest countries in Africa.

Even the Israeli government adds to the confusion sometimes – in an article about Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains that Israel “lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.”

So it is not surprising that many people ask the simple question – just what continent is Israel in? In this article we provide the definitive answer, as well as respond to a number of misconceptions.

Is Israel in Asia?

Yes. Israel is geographically located in Asia.

The continent itself spreads from Turkey in the far West, through to Japan and Russia in the East of Asia; and from Arctic Russia in the North to the islands of Indonesia in the South. Here is a map of Asia, including Israel in the far left:

Asia Map

Although the exact border between Europe and Asia is not clearly defined, most geographers agree that it runs south from the Ural Mountains, along the coasts of the Caspian and Black Seas, and the far eastern coast of the Mediterranean.

Politically, Israel doesn’t have particularly close ties with the rest of Asia (or the Middle East for that matter – see below). Until its exclusion in the mid-1970s, for example, Israel competed in Asian sporting competitions. However, since the 1990s, Israel has more commonly participated in European sporting contests – for example it is a member of UEFA.

Did you know? The highest temperature ever recorded in the continent of Asia was in Israel – in 1942 a temperature of 54.0 °C / 129.2 °F was recorded in Tirat Zvi.

Is Israel in the Middle East?

Yes, Israel is a geographically a part of the Middle East, a region which runs from the far East of Europe (Cyprus), through to Iran in the East and Egypt, which is in both Africa and Asia.

Politically and culturally, however, Israel does not have close relations with its Middle Eastern neighbours. Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has been in a more or less continuous state of conflict (including numerous wars) with many of its Arab neighbours in the Middle East.

At its root (and at great risk of over-simplification) the conflict is between two religious groups, both of whom claim the same territory as their homeland – both geographically and religiously. Click here for more detail on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Is Israel in Europe?

No. Israel is not geographically a part of Europe.

It does, however, have close ties with the continent – historical, cultural, sporting and economic.

Most Jewish people who live in Israel today either emigrated directly from Europe to Israel, or had ancestors who emigrated during the last century. Prior to this mass emigration (known as Aliyah) the vast majority of Jews in the world lived as a part of the Jewish diaspora, spread primarily across Europe and the United States.

Because of this, Israel has strong cultural, historical and economic ties to Europe – all of which have a strong influence on Israel today.

Partly because of this, but more importantly because of poor relations with other countries in the Middle East and Asia, has close ties with European political and sporting organisations.

Israel has close links with the European Union and, although perhaps not realistic in the short term, there are many people who support the idea of Israel joining the EU.

In the sporting arena, since its exclusion from competition in Asia, Israel competes primarily in Europe. For example, Israel’s route to qualification for the football World Cup is through UEFA. It also competes in the Eurovision Song Contest (although arguably with the introduction of Australia, this is now a global contest!).

Is Israel in Africa?

No. Israel is not in the continent of Africa. It shares a border with Egypt, a country which is in both Africa and Asia.

A small minority of people argue that because, in the Bible, Israel used to be called the land of Canaan, Israel should be considered to be African. Canaan was the son of Ham, who is considered by many to be the father of Africa – in the Bible, Egypt is called the “land of Ham.”

What continent is Jerusalem in?

Geographically, Jerusalem is in Asia.

Jerusalem is considered a holy city by three religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Although it is claimed as the capital city by both Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem is currently occupied entirely by Israel.

With a population of 850,000 people, Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel.

Beijing population 2016

At the start of 2016, the population of Beijing was 21,700,000.

Beijing is the capital city of China, the second largest city in China (after Shanghai), and the third largest city in the world (after Shanghai and Karachi).

Beijing has always been one of the world’s largest cities. From 1425 to 1650, and then again from 1710 to 1825, it was the largest city in the world. It was also the first city in the modern era to reach a population of more than one million people – a feat it achieved in 1775.

Population of Beijing map

The population of Beijing has grown rapidly in recent years, but Chinese authorities have plans to limit the city’s growth in the near future.

How many people live in Beijing today?

The latest official population data was outlined in the Chinese Government’s most recent (2016-2020) five year plan.

It reported that at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016, the population of Beijing was 21.7 million people.

The majority of people living in Beijing (13 million) are permanent residents and hold an official Hukou permit. The other 8 million are temporary residents who have migrated to Beijing from other parts of the country, often looking for better opportunities for work.

Permanent residents13 million
Migrants9 million

Beijing population growth

Beijing’s population has grown rapidly in the past sixty years. In 1953, when China held its first post-war census, the population of Beijing was recorded at just 2.7 million people. Today, the population is more than eight times as high.

In the 25 years since China’s market reforms began in earnest, the number of people living in Beijing has more than doubled – from 10.8 million people in 1990 to 21.7 million people today.

Here is a table that lists the Beijing population during selected years, from 1953.


Recent population growth has been driven primarily by migration. The birth rate in the city is quite low, at 8.93 births per thousand population per year.

Improved health care has meant that people in Beijing are also living longer. The average life expectancy in Beijing is now 81.95 years. This is well above the national average of 75.15 years, although below the average in some other major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai where life expectancy recently hit 84.8 years.

Beijing life expectancy81.85 years
China life expectancy75.15 years
Shanghai life expectancy84.8 years

Although population growth is slowing, it is still causing concern in the Chinese and Beijing government. Continued population rises can put strain on a city’s infrastructure, and Beijing’s residents suffer from problems with pollution – particularly the dangerously toxic Beijing smog which often shrouds the city.

To address this problem the city has plans to limit population growth in Beijing in the next few years and, potentially, to even reduce the city’s population.

As a part of its five year plan, the government plans to limit Beijing’s population to a maximum of 22 million people in 2016 and 23 million by 2020.

It is not certain that the government will be able to achieve this ambition, however. It has set targets aimed at limiting growth in the past, none of which have been met.

Beijing population density

1,322 people live in every square kilometer of Beijing.

This figure was calculated by taking the 2016 population of Beijing (21.7 million) and dividing it by the size of the city (16,411 km sq).

The bulk of the population in Beijing is concentrated in its central areas, and more than half of the residents of China’s capital city live in just six of its sixteen administrative districts.

For example, the two central districts of Chaoyang and Shijingshan are each home to more than three million people. These two districts, respectively, have a population density of 7,528 people per square mile and 7,701 people per square mile.

Beijing1,322 people per sq km
Chaoyang district 7,528 people per sq km
Shijingshan district7,701 people per sq km

This puts immense pressure on the city’s infrastructure and limits people’s quality of life. To address this the city government, as a part of its five year plan, intends to redistribute some the city’s population from the centre to the suburbs. They hope that the population of Beijing’s six central districts will fall by 15% by 2020.

Ethnic groups in Beijing

Han Chinese are the largest single ethnic group in Beijing. They make up 95.69% of the city’s population (2010 census data).

Other groups with significant numbers in the city are Manchu (1.84%) and Hui (1.74%).

Han Chinese95.69%

There is also a large number of foreign residents in Beijing. Although their numbers are not reliably captured in census data, there were thought to be at least 90,000 foreign residents in Beijing at the time of the 2010 census.

Beijing demographics

Reflecting its status as a city of internal migrants, many of whom have come to the capital to find work, Beijing has a higher ratio of males:females than the rest of the country. At the time of the 2010 census, the city’s gender balance was 51.6% male and 48.4% female.

Male 51.6%Female 48.4%

The majority of the city’s population is also of working age. According to data from 2004, when the population was much lower at 14.2 million people, the number of residents aged 0-14 was 1.4 million (10%), the number of residents aged 15-64 was 11.2 million (79%) and the number of residents aged over 65 was 1.6 million (11%).

0-14 years1.4 million (10%)
15-64 years11.2 million (79%)
Over 65 years1.6 million (11%)

It is likely that the percentage of people who are of working age has increased slightly over the decade since these figures were released.

Where is Beijing?

Beijing is a city in northern China, located near the coast.

Population of Beijing map

It is surrounded by Hebei province in the north, south and west. Tianjin province is to the south east of Beijing and, sandwiched between Beijing and the coast, acts as the city’s port.

Beijing has been the capital city of China for most of the last eight hundred years.

The name Beijing means ‘Northern Capital’. It was previously known outside of China as Peking.

World Leaders 2017

Updated: 24 January 2017

This page contains a list all world leaders, including a list of all Presidents, Prime Ministers and Monarchs for every country in the world that is a member of the UN or an observer at the UN. It includes the names of the head of state and head of government of each country.

It also includes a list of the heads of significant global and regional organisations – for example, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank or NATO.

The data is accurate as of April 2016.

List of world leaders

This table contains a list of heads of state and heads of government. Where the two roles are combined, only one person is listed.

Where we have written an article about a person included in this list, you can click on a link to visit that article.

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What is the difference between head of state and head of government?

The head of state is almost always an individual. They are often elected but not always – for example, some heads of state are monarchs. Their main role is to act as the representative of that state – for example meeting foreign dignitaries, opening parliaments, or calling elections.

The head of government is usually a prime minister, who leads the government and the legislature. They are responsible for implementing laws and ensuring that the country’s bureaucracy runs smoothly.

Most countries separate the two roles, and appoint a different person to fulfil each function. However some countries, usually in countries with a Presidential system of government, allow one person to fulfil both roles.


Elizabeth II is the only person to be head of state of more than one country. This is because many countries that used to be a part of the British Empire have kept her as their head of state. In total, she is Queen of sixteen countries. She is also head of the Commonwealth of Nations. In countries other than the United Kingdom, she is represented by a Governor-General.

Bhumibol Adulyadejs, also known as Rama IX, is the longest serving head of state. He is also the longest serving current monarch. He has reigned as King of Thailand since 9 June 1946. This is more than five years longer than Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 5 February 1952.

The longest serving head of state who is not a monarch is Paul Biya of Cameroon. He took office on 30 June 1975.

Three countries have more than one head of state. These countries are Switzerland, where members of the federal council take it in turns to take on the role of President, San Marino, which is led by two Captains-Regent, and Bosnia & Herzegovina, which has a three-member Presidency with one member drawn from each of its three nations.

List of organisation leaders

This table contains a list of the leaders of selected international organisations.

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