Gaza Strip


Middle East :: Gaza Strip

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Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., Gaza has been dominated by many different peoples and empires throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. Gaza fell to British forces during World War I, becoming a part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt administered the newly formed Gaza Strip; it was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Under a series of agreements signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid- 2000. In early 2003, the "Quartet" of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, presented a roadmap to a final peace settlement by 2005, calling for two states - Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political party) as the PA president, Israel and the PA agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, but continues to control maritime, airspace, and other access. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won the Palestinian Legislative Council election and took control of the PA government. Attempts to form a unity government between Fatah and HAMAS failed, and violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS's violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Fatah and HAMAS in early 2011 agreed to reunify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but the factions have struggled to implement details on governance and security. Brief periods of increased violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in 2007-08 and again in 2012, both led to Egyptian-brokered truces. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA governing the West Bank.


Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel

Geographic coordinates:
31 25 N, 34 20 E

Map references:
Middle East

Total: 360 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 206
Land: 360 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
Total: 72 km
Border countries: Egypt 13 km, Israel 59 km

40 km

Maritime claims:
see entry for Israel
note: effective 3 January 2009 the Gaza maritime area is closed to all maritime traffic and is under blockade imposed by Israeli Navy until further notice

temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers

flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Awdah) 105 m

Natural resources:
arable land, natural gas

Land use:
Arable land: 7.39%
Permanent crops: 10.96%
Other: 81.64% (2011)

Irrigated land:
240 sq km; note - includes West Bank (2003)

Natural hazards:

Environment - current issues:
desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources

Geography - note:
strategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes has experienced an incredibly turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history

People and Society

Noun: NA
Adjective: NA

Ethnic groups:
Palestinian Arab

Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood)

Muslim 98.0 - 99.0% (predominantly Sunni), Christian <1.0%, other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1.0%
note: dismantlement of Israeli settlements was completed in September 2005; Gaza has had no Jewish population since then (2012 est.)

1,816,379 (July 2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 152

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.2% (male 402,848/female 381,155)
15-24 years: 20.6% (male 191,710/female 182,405)
25-54 years: 30.1% (male 280,551/female 266,756)
55-64 years: 3.5% (male 31,711/female 31,515)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 19,617/female 28,111) (2014 est.)
Population pyramid:

Dependency ratios:
Total dependency ratio: 74.1 %
Youth dependency ratio: 68.8 %
Elderly dependency ratio: 5.3 %
Potential support ratio: 19
note: data represents the Palestinian Territories (2014 est.)

Median age:
Total: 18.2 years
Male: 18 years
Female: 18.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
2.91% (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 13

Birth rate:
32.2 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 35

Death rate:
3.09 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 220

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 108

Urban population: 74.3% of total population (2011)
Rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
At birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2004 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
64 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Country comparison to the world: 94

Infant mortality rate:
Total: 15.46 deaths/1,000 live births
Country comparison to the world: 105
Male: 16.51 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
Total population: 74.64 years
Country comparison to the world: 109
Male: 72.9 years
Female: 76.48 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
4.24 children born/woman (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 34

Drinking water source:
urban: 81.6% of population
rural: 82.3% of population
total: 81.8% of population
urban: 18.4% of population
rural: 17.7% of population
total: 18.2% of population

note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 94.8% of population
rural: 92.8% of population
total: 94.3% of population
urban: 5.2% of population
rural: 7.2% of population
total: 5.7% of population

note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 95.3%
Male: 97.9%
Female: 92.6%
note: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2011 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
Total: 38.8%
Country comparison to the world: 16
Male: 34.5%
Female: 62.2%
note: includes West Bank (2012)


Country name:
Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Gaza Strip
Local long form: none
Local short form: Qita' Ghazzah


Economy - overview:
Israeli security controls imposed since the end of the second intifada have degraded economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories. Israeli-imposed border closures, which became more restrictive after HAMAS seized control of the territory in June 2007, have resulted in high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and a sharp contraction of the private sector that had relied primarily on export markets. Gazans increasingly turned to tunnels that ran under the Egyptian border to bring in fuel, construction materials, and consumer goods. In July 2013, Egyptian authorities began a serious crackdown on the tunnels, causing shortages in Gaza. The population depends on government spending - by both the Palestinian Authority and HAMAS's de facto government - and humanitarian assistance. Changes to Israeli restrictions on imports in 2010 resulted in a rebound in some economic activity, but regular exports from Gaza still are not permitted. Standard-of-living measures remain below levels seen in the mid-1990s.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
see entry for West Bank

GDP - real growth rate:
see entry for West Bank

GDP - per capita (PPP):
see entry for West Bank

GDP - composition, by end use:
Household consumption: 99.5%
Government consumption: 29.5%
Investment in fixed capital: 18%
Investment in inventories: 0%
Exports of goods and services: 14.9%
Imports of goods and services: -62%
(2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
see entry for West Bank

Agriculture - products:
olives, fruit, vegetables, flowers; beef, dairy products

textiles, food processing, furniture

Labor force:
348,200 (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 161

Labor force - by occupation:
Agriculture: 5.1%
Industry: 15.6%
Services: 79.3% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate:
22.5% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 170
23% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
38% (2010 est.)

see entry for West Bank

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 53
2.8% (2012 est.)
note: includes West Bank

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
see entry for West Bank

Stock of broad money:
$2.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148
$1.814 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.248 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 148
$1.042 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Current account balance:
(2011 est.)

(2011 est.)

Exports - commodities:
strawberries, carnations, vegetables (small and irregular shipments, as permitted to transit the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing)

see entry for West Bank

Imports - commodities:
food, consumer goods
note: Israel permits basic commercial imports through the Kerem Shalom crossing, but many "dual use" goods, such as construction materials and electronics, are smuggled through tunnels beneath Gaza's border with Egypt

Debt - external:
see entry for West Bank

Exchange rates:
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.621 (2012 est.)
3.5781 (2012 est.)
3.739 (2010 est.)
3.9323 (2009)
3.56 (2008)


Electricity - production:
51,000 kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 219

Electricity - consumption:
202,000 kWh (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 218

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 147

Electricity - imports:
193,000 kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 109

Crude oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 142


Telephones - main lines in use:
406,000 (includes West Bank) (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 105

Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.041 million (includes West Bank) (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 131

Telephone system:
General assessment: Gaza continues to repair the damage to its telecommunications infrastructure caused by fighting in 2009
Domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed-line services; the Palestinian JAWWAL company provides cellular services
International: country code - 970 (2009)

Broadcast media:
1 TV station and about 10 radio stations (2008)

Internet country code:
.ps; note - same as West Bank

Internet users:
1.379 million (includes West Bank) (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 87


1 (2013)
Country comparison to the world: 218

Airports - with paved runways:
Total: 1
Over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1 (2013)

note: see entry for West Bank

Ports and terminals:
Major seaport(s): Gaza


Military branches:
Hamas does not have a conventional military in the Gaza Strip, but maintains security forces in addition to its military wing, the 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades; the military wing reports to the external Hamas Political Bureau leadership, which has been in exile in Cairo and Doha since closing its Damascus headquarters in late 2011 (2013)

Manpower available for military service:
Males age 16-49: 385,961 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
Males age 16-49: 335,820
Females age 16-49: 319,847 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
Male: 18,805
Female: 17,903 (2010 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
the status of the Gaza Strip is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations; Israel removed settlers and military personnel from Gaza Strip in August 2005

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Refugees (country of origin): 1,240,082 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)) (2014)
IDPs: at least 146,000 (persons displaced within both the Gaza strip and the West Bank, some fled as long ago as 1967 but confirmed cumulative figures do not go back beyond 2006) (2013)