Language: Hebrew (official), Arabic (official)
Climate: Long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters. Precipitation varies throughout the country but during January and February, it may take the form of snow at the higher elevations of the central highlands, including Jerusalem.
Time Zone: IST — Israel Standard Time
International phone code: 972
Currency: New Israeli Sheqel
Transportation: Israel's main international airport is Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport which is approximately 40km from Jerusalem and 12 km from central Tel Aviv. Note that security measures above and beyond what you might encounter in most countries are taken for flights both to and from Israel and there are specific visa requirements for entry.
There are land routes from both Egypt and Jordan to Israel. There are no land routes to either Syria or Lebanon, due to the continuing state of hostilities with these countries. The border crossings have security measures similar to the airports.
In getting around Israel, be aware of the Sabbath: from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, train and bus services are not available. Buses are the most common form of public transportation for Israelis and travellers alike. They are cheap, fast and reliable. One of the best advances in transport in Israel in recent years has been the modernization of the train system. Most major international car rental companies operate in Israel: Hertz, Avis, Budget and Sixt, as well as many Israeli ones, including Eldan (Israel's largest car rental company), Traffic and Tamir.
Israel boasts that it's the most progressive country in the Middle East when it comes to LGBT rights. It does not criminalize homosexual acts in private between consenting adults, and protects gay people under anti-discrimination laws.
Out Magazine has named Tel Aviv "the gay capital of the Middle East," famous for its annual Pride parade and gay beach. But the rest of Israel, especially Jerusalem, is not as secular. It is considered the homeland of Judaism, and when travelling to Holy Sites, men and women should dress in modest clothing to respect the sanctity of the site and avoid trouble.