|Hebrew: יהודים (Yehudim)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Rest of the world||218,100|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Samaritans,Druze, other Levantines,Arabs,Assyrians|
The Jews (/dʒuːz/;Hebrew: יְהוּדִים ISO 259-3 Yehudim, Israeli pronunciation [jehuˈdim]), also known as the Jewish people, are an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites, or Hebrews, of the Ancient Near East. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.
Jews originated as a national and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE, in the part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel. The Merneptah Stele appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel, associated with the god El, somewhere in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE (Late Bronze Age). The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population, consolidated their hold with the emergence of the Kingdom of Israel, and the Kingdom of Judah. Some consider that these Canaanite sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as 'Hebrews'. Though few sources in the Bible mention the exilic periods in detail, the experience of diaspora life, from the Ancient Egyptian rule over the Levant, to Assyrian Captivity and Exile, to Babylonian Captivity and Exile, to Seleucid Imperial rule, to the Roman occupation, and the historical relations between Israelites and their homeland, became a major feature of Jewish history, identity and memory.
The worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million prior to World War II, but approximately 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Since then the population has slowly risen again, and as of 2015[update] was estimated at 14.3 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank, or less than 0.2% of the total world population (roughly one in every 514 people). According to the report, about 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (6.2 million), and 40% in the United States (5.7 million), with most of the remainder living in Europe (1.4 million) and Canada (0.4 million). These numbers include all those who self-identified as Jews in a socio-demographic study or were identified as such by a respondent in the same household. The exact world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure. In addition to issues with census methodology, disputes among proponents of halakhic, secular, political, and ancestral identification factors regarding who is a Jew may affect the figure considerably depending on the source. Israel is the only country where Jews form a majority of the population. The modern State of Israel was established as a Jewish state and defines itself as such in its Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws. Its Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to any Jew who requests it.
Despite their small percentage of the world's population, Jews have significantly influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, including philosophy,ethics,literature, business, fine arts and architecture, music, theatre and cinema, medicine, as well as science and technology, both historically and in modern times.