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 known as the Oslo accords signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the newly-created 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 in 2001, after which the area witnessed a violent intifada or uprising.

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. Following PA President Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political faction) as the PA president in 2005, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel by late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, but continues to control the Gaza Strip’s land and maritime borders and airspace. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council election. Attempts to form a unity government between Fatah and HAMAS failed and violent clashes between their respective supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS's violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Israel and Egypt since HAMAS’s takeover have enforced tight restrictions on movement and access of goods and individuals into and out of the territory. Since then, Fatah and HAMAS have reached a series of agreements aimed at restoring political unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank but have struggled to implement them. In April 2014, the two factions signed an agreement and two months later President ABBAS formed an interim government of independent technocrats, none of whom were affiliated with HAMAS. The factions, however, continue to disagree over how to implement the deal and HAMAS remains in de facto control of the Gaza Strip.

In July 2014, HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant groups engaged in a 51-day conflict with Israel—the third conflict since HAMAS’s takeover in 2007—culminating in late August with an open-ended truce that continues to hold despite the absence of a negotiated cease-fire and occasional violations by both sides. Reconstruction efforts since the end of the conflict have been hampered by Israeli restrictions on goods entering the Gaza Strip and inadequate donor aid. The UN in 2015 published a study assessing that the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable by 2020 absent a substantial easing on border restrictions.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

31.25° N, 34.20° E

Area 206/257

total: 360 sq km

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 (2): Egypt 13 km, Israel 59 km

Coastline

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

Climate

temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers

Terrain

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

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Awdah) 105 m

Natural resources

arable land, natural gas

Irrigated land

240 sq km; note - includes West Bank (2012)

Natural hazards

droughts

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; there are no Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip; the Gaza Strip settlements were evacuated in 2005 (2014)

People and Society

Nationality

noun: NA

adjective: NA

Ethnic groups

Palestinian Arab

Languages

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

Religions

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

Population 152/238

1,869,055 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.75% (male 410,599/female 388,473)

15-24 years: 20.34% (male 194,798/female 185,295)

25-54 years: 30.66% (male 293,556/female 279,471)

55-64 years: 3.59% (male 33,843/female 33,198)

65 years and over: 2.67% (male 20,667/female 29,155) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 76%

youth dependency ratio: 70.8%

elderly dependency ratio: 5.2%

potential support ratio: 19.2%

note: data represents Gaza and the West Bank (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.4 years

male: 18.2 years

female: 18.6 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 13/233

2.81% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 37/224

31.11 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 221/225

3.04 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 96/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 75.3% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.81% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

note: data represents Gaza Strip and West Bank

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: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19

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

Maternal mortality rate 94/184

45 deaths/100,000 live births

note: data represents Gaza Strip and West Bank (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 105/224

total: 14.94 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 15.97 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 110/224

total population: 74.87 years

male: 73.11 years

female: 76.74 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 35/224

4.08 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

52.5% (includes Gaza Strip and West Bank) (2010)

Physicians density

2.1 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 50.7% of population

rural: 81.5% of population

total: 58.4% of population

unimproved:

urban: 49.3% of population

rural: 18.5% of population

total: 41.6% of population

note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 93% of population

rural: 90.2% of population

total: 92.3% of population

unimproved:

urban: 7% of population

rural: 9.8% of population

total: 7.7% of population

note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 12 years

female: 14 years

note: data represents Gaza and West Bank (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 14/134

total: 41%

male: 37%

female: 64.7%

note: includes West Bank (2013 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Gaza Strip

local long form: none

local short form: Qita' Ghazzah

etymology: named after the largest city in the region, Gaza, whose settlement can be traced back to at least the 15th century B.C. (as "Ghazzat")

Economy

Economy - overview

Israeli security measures and Israeli-Palestinian violence continue to degrade economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories. Israeli-imposed border controls became more restrictive after HAMAS seized control of the territory in June 2007. They have produced high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and a sharp contraction of the private sector, which had relied primarily on export markets.

Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on the Gaza Strip’s extensive tunnel-based smuggling network has exacerbated fuel, construction material, and consumer goods shortages in the territory. The 51-day conflict in July 2014 that HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant groups fought with Israel further depressed the Gaza Strip’s already aid-dependent economy. Donor support for reconstruction and relaxed Israeli import restrictions in late 2014 and 2015 have fallen short of postconflict needs, with almost 100,000 people remaining internally displaced because their homes have yet to be rebuilt or repaired.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

see entry for West Bank

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.938 billion

note: excludes West Bank

GDP - real growth rate 223/225

-15% (2014 est.)

6% (2013 est.)

7% (2012 est.)

note: data exclude West Bank

GDP - per capita (PPP)

see entry for West Bank

GDP - composition, by end use

data exclude West Bank (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

4%

20.2%

75.8%

note: data exclude West Bank (2014 est.)

Agriculture - products

olives, fruit, vegetables, flowers; beef, dairy products

Industries

textiles, food processing, furniture

Industrial production growth rate 81/202

3.1% see entry for West Bank

Labor force 143/233

1.117 million

note: excludes West Bank (2014 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 8.4%

industry: 12.3%

services: 79.3%

note: data exclude West Bank (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate 177/207

25% (2014 est.)

26.9% (2013 est.)

note: data exclude West Bank

Population below poverty line

39%

note: data exclude West Bank (2011 est.)

Budget

see entry for West Bank

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 134/226

note: 2.9% excludes West Bank

Commercial bank prime lending rate

see entry for West Bank

Stock of narrow money

see entry for West Bank

Stock of broad money 149/193

$2.356 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$2.16 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 153/191

$1.274 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$1.147 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance 156/197

note: -$2.894 billion see entry for West Bank

Exports 146/224

$1.692 billion (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Imports

see entry for West Bank

Imports - commodities

food, consumer goods, fuel

Debt - external

see entry for West Bank

Exchange rates

see entry for West Bank

Energy

Electricity - production 220/220

51,000 kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption 218/219

202,000 kWh (2009)

Electricity - exports 149/218

0 kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - imports 111/219

193,000 kWh (2011 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 144/215

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

403,118 (includes West Bank) (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 3,197,550 (includes West Bank)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 117 (includes West Bank) (2014 est.)

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; satellite TV accessible (2008)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 0, FM 10, shortwave 0 (2008)

Television broadcast stations

1 (2008)

Internet country code

.ps; note - same as West Bank

Internet users

total: 1,379,000 (includes West Bank)

percent of population: 34.4% (includes West Bank) (2009)

Transportation

Airports 219/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Roadways

note: see entry for West Bank

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gaza

Military and Security

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 Hamas Political Bureau leadership, which remains scattered throughout the region since relocating from its Damascus headquarters in early 2012 (2015)

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): 1,258,559 (Palestinian refugees) (2014)

IDPs: at least 263,500 (includes persons displaced within the Gaza strip due to the intensification of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since June 2014 and other Palestinian IDPs in the Gaza Strip and West Bank who fled as long ago as 1967, although confirmed cumulative data do not go back beyond 2006) (2015)