Israel is an old-new country, small in size, but with a widely varied landscape and a culturally active, heterogeneous population of some 5.9 million. It is a place where East meets West, where past and present touch, and where ideologies mold lifestyles. Four thousand years of Jewish heritage, more than a century of Zionism, the 'ingathering of the exiles' and five decades of modern statehood have contributed to a culture which has already created an identity of its own, while preserving the uniqueness of 70 different communities.
A largely immigrant and second-generation society, Israel's creative expression has absorbed many different cultural and social influences, as the traditions of each group not only vie with those of other groups, but also contend with the country's recent history and life in a Middle Eastern context. The constant search for cultural identity is expressed through creativity in a broad range of art forms, appreciated and enjoyed by a great many people as part of daily life.
Israel's international cultural ties focus on cooperation in a broad range of fields, including language, literature, the arts, science, media and sports. Based on cultural agreements with more than 70 countries, in addition to links with many others, activities range from student and academic exchange programs and reciprocal tours by dance troupes, theater companies, art exhibits, musicians and orchestras, to participation in book fairs, film festivals and sports competitions as well as the teaching of the language and cultural traditions of both countries.