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The Christian Population of Israel

The Central Bureau of Statistics reported at the end of 2019 that the Christian population of Israel was approximately 177,000, or 2% of the overall population. 

More than three-quarters (77.5%) of Christians are Arabs, representing 7.2% of all Israeli-Arab citizens. The majority of non-Arab Christians (roughly 40,000) living in Israel are citizens who immigrated to Israel since 1990, together with Jewish family members under the Law of Return mainly from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

Some 70.6% of Arab-Christians live in northern Israel today, while 13.3% reside in the coastal city of Haifa and 9.5% live in Jerusalem. The nation’s most populous Christian cities are Nazareth (21,900 inhabitants), Haifa (16,100), Jerusalem (12,700) and the Galilee city of Shfaram (10,300).

The average fertility rate among Christians in 2018 was 2.06 children per woman, compared to 3.2 for Muslim women, 3.17 for Jewish women and 2.16 for Druze women.

Historically, on the eve of World War I, the Christian population was about 70,000 - 10% of the population. Over the 20th century, while absolute numbers increased, the relative number of Christians declined. By 1947, on the eve of Israeli independence, the Christian population in Mandatory Palestine was 143,000 - 7% of the total population. 34,000 Christians remained within the borders of the State of Israel, less than 3% of the population.

The average age of marriage for Christian men was 30.1 years old, approximately one-and-a-half years older than Druze men, two-and-a-half years older than Jewish men and three-and-a-half years older than Muslim men. Among Christian women, the average age of marriage was 26 years old – similar to the average age among Jewish women, one year older than Druze women and three-and-a-half years older than Muslims

During the 2018-19 academic year, there were 6,200 Christian students – representing 2.3% of all students in Israeli higher education. A total of 94.3% of Christian students were of Arab descent.

See also The Christian Communities of Israel.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry;
Eytan Halon, “Israel’s Christian population grows to 177,000 citizens,” Jerusalem Post, (December 23, 2019).