• U.S. News and World Report ranks Israel the eighth most powerful nation in the world. Bloomberg News names the Jewish state the 10th most innovative worldwide, edging out the United States.

Israel’s population in 2018 stands at 8.84 million. The average life expectancy in Israel is the fifth highest worldwide, at 80.7 years for men, and 84.2 years for women. In addition, the country comes in 11th in overall happiness.

• In the high tech industry, there are now 8,000 active high-tech companies operating in Israel, according to Israel Venture Capital Research Center. The center also reported there are 1,487 life science companies, 505 cyber security companies, 356 Israel accelerators and incubators, and 365 active foreign R&D centers.

• The first direct proof of the existence of dark matter in the universe is revealed by Tel Aviv University astrophysicist Rennan Barkana based on radio signals emanating from outer space.

• Israeli trauma experts fly to Houston to train educators and counselors in resilience following Hurricane Harvey and to Florida after a mass school shooting in Parkland. The Israel Trauma Coalition also is leading trainings in Mexico and in Las Vegas for communities affected by an earthquake and a mass shooting, respectively, in late 2017.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat showing Giro d’Italia cyclists around the city at the Big Start announcement in September 2017. Photo: courtesy

• Israel hosts the Big Start tour preceding the Giro D’Italia cycling race, marking the first time a Grand Tour is taking place outside of Europe.

• Israeli electronics firm Orbotech is acquired for $3.4 billion.