The first enumeration of the population in the State of Israel was held in November, 1948, a short time after the establishment of the State - at the height of the War of Independence. The census was conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior. In this census, the residents were listed with the main purpose of establishing a Population Register and preparing a basis for distributing identity cards to the residents for the first Knesset elections. The 1948 census created the base for statistical data in the country. Since then, ongoing statistics on the population have been conducted by monthly updates of data, which are diligently compiled with the aid of information obtained from listings of births and deaths, address changes, and arrivals and departures to and from the country, as well as tourism records. 

The census was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, the enumerators visited the residents' homes before the census date, and filled out the questionnaires that included questions on basic demographic subjects, on employment, on knowledge of reading and writing, and spoken languages. In the second stage, on the day of the census - 8 November, 1948 - a general home curfew was declared for 7 hours. The purpose of the curfew was to ensure that all residents would be in their homes during the enumerators' visit and, concurrently, to reduce the risk of people being enumerated more than once, in two different places. During the curfew the enumerators returned to homes they had visited previously and checked the accuracy of their records from the first stage, added or subtracted the people who had accumulated or been reduced since their first visit, received a photograph from each one of the residents and presented them with a voucher that included their Identity Number, with which they would later receive their official Identity Card.