country profile - PALESTINE

The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel still controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. Violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007 resulted in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. In February 2007, ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June 2007, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal, and despite multiple rounds of Egyptian-brokered reconciliation negotiations, the two groups have failed to bridge their differences. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and ABBAS and the Fatah-dominated PA governing the West Bank. FAYYAD and his PA government continue to implement a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS has said he will not resume negotiations with current Prime Minister NETANYAHU until Israel halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Location: Middle East, west of Jordan
Area: total: 5,860 sq km
land: 5,640 sq km
water: 220 sq km
note: includes West Bank, Latrun Salient, and the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea, but excludes Mt. Scopus; East Jerusalem and Jerusalem No Man's Land are also included only
Land boundaries: total: 404 km
border countries: Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km
Coastline: none
Climate: temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
Natural resources: arable land
Population: 2,514,845
note: the population estimates previously published on this site for the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are under review, please check back in the future for revised estimates. (July 2010 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 36.5% (male 471,472/female 447,502)
15-64 years: 59.8% (male 770,496/female 732,787)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 38,452/female 54,136) (2010 est.)
Median age: total: 20.9 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 21.1 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.13% (2010 est.)
Birth rate: 24.91 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate: 3.62 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Nationality: Palestinian
Ethnic groups:  
Religions: Islam
Languages: Arabic
Country name: Palestine
Government type: Semi-presidential
Parliamentary democracy
Capital: Ramallah
Administrative divisions:  
National holiday:  
Legal system:  
Executive branch:  
Legislative branch:  
Judicial branch:  
Political parties and leaders:  
Political pressure groups and leaders:  
International organization participation:  
Flag description:  
Telephones - main lines in use: 360,400 (includes Gaza Strip) (2010)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.405 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2010)
Telephone system: general assessment: continuing political and economic instability has impeded significant liberalization of the telecommunications industry
domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services; PALTEL plans to establish a fiber-optic connection to Jordan to route domestic mobile calls; the Palestinian JAWWAL company and WATANIYA PALESTINE provide cellular services
international: country code - 970; 1 international switch in Ramallah (2009) (2009)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 27, shortwave 0 (2010)
Television broadcast stations: 31 (2010)
Internet country code: .ps
Internet hosts:  
Internet users: 356,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2008)
Airports: 2 (2009)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:  
Roadways: total: 5,147 km
paved: 5,147 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2006)
Merchant marine:  
Ports and terminals:  
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew from four settlements in the northern West Bank in August 2005; since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem, monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region
Update: This page was last updated on 3 August 2010

1. CIA, The World Factbook,