Israel is a young country, small in size, but with a widely varied landscape and a culturally active, heterogeneous population of justover 5 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 and over four decades of modern statehood have contributed to an Israeli culture which strives to create an identity of its own, while preserving the uniqueness of each contributing community. Emerging from the encounter between the individuals and the society, it blends tradition and innovation, steers a course between Israeli particularism and universal elements, and grows from a conflict between artistic freedom and the need to cater to public tastes.

An immigrant society, its creative expression has absorbed many different cultural and social influences, as the traditions of each group not only contend with those of other groups, but also confront the country's recent history and life in a Middle Eastern context. The ongoing search for cultural identity is expressed through dynamic creativity in a broad range of art forms, appreciated and enjoyed by a great many people, not as an elitist activity but 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 official two-way agreements with some 45 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 and the teaching of the language and cultural traditions of both countries.