On Christmas eve 2009,some 154.5 thousand Christians live in Israel, representing 2.1% of the total population, according to a report published Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The data does not include foreign workers residing in Israel.
The majority of the Christian population – some 20,000 – lives in the northern city of Nazareth, while another 14,100 live in Haifa, 12,800 live in Jerusalem and 9,100 in the northern town of Shfaram.
Some 29,000 Christians, representing 19% of the total Christian population in Israel, arrived from the former Soviet Union during the migration waves of the 90s and reside in the three largest cities: 3,400 in Haifa, 2,600 in Jerusalem and 2,600 in Tel Aviv.
Eighty one percent of Christians in Israel are Arabs; the majority of them residing in the north, while another 10.5% live in the Jerusalem area, 37% in the Haifa district, 32% in the central district and Tel Aviv area, and another 18% in the southern district.
Birth rate down 50% since the 1960s
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were some 57,000 Christian households in 2008, representing 3% of total households in Israel. Christian families have an average of 3.4 family members, slightly higher than in Jewish households (3.1) and lower than Muslim households (5).
Since 1992, the number of family members in the Christian household has decreased from 4.2 to 3.4. One of the contributing factors was the immigration wave from the Former Soviet Union during the 1990s, which was characterized by relatively small households.
The Christian population growth rate at the end of 2008 stood at 1%, compared with 1.7% growth rate in the Jewish population and 2.8% in the Muslim population.
During the same year, Christian women gave birth to 2,511 children, 81% of which belonged to the Arab sector.
The birth rate among Christian women has decreased over 50% since the 1960s. In 1960, the average birthrate was 4.6 children, whereas today it is two. – the lowest birth rate among the different religious groups in Israel.
In contrast, Jewish woman gave birth to an average of 2.9 children, while Muslim woman had 3.8 children and Druze woman 2.5.
The age distribution in the Christian population is similar to that in the Jewish population, with 32% between the ages of 0-19, compared with 33% in the Jewish population and 52% in the Muslim population.