January/February 2000

Holy Land's Population Triple of 2,000 Years Ago

By Gil Hoffman

JERUSALEM (December 31) - The population has reached 6.2 million and the Jewish population is approaching five million, according to new figures published yesterday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

A CBS spokesman said he expects rapid population growth to continue into the new millennium, reaching the seven million mark by 2006-2007 and eight million by 2013-2018. By 2020, the CBS predicted the population may reach nine million.

However, when figures from areas under Palestinian rule are included, the nine million milestone has already been reached, up from 600,000 in 1900, the most rapid population growth in the region of any century in recorded history.

The last period of rapid population growth began at the time of King David in 1000 BCE, when slightly fewer than 2 million people lived here.

The population grew until the first century CE, when it peaked at fewer than 3 million.

The population dropped to 500,000 a millennium ago and did not begin to rise dramatically until the British Mandate and the founding of the state, growing to 2.3 million by the end of 1949.

The current increase in Jewish population is due in part to a 28 percent increase in immigration, up to 77,000 in 1999, from 60,000 last year. The overall population increased 2.7% this year (160,000 people), up from 2.4% in 1998.

The estimated non-Jewish population of more than 1.2 million includes 936,000 Moslems, 131,000 Christians, and 101,000 Druse.

© Jerusalem Post

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