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Middle East :: West Bank Print
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WEST BANK
  • Introduction :: West Bank
  • Background field listing

    Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., the West Bank has been dominated by many different peoples through out its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. The West Bank fell to British forces during World War I, becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan), which annexed the West Bank in 1950; 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 West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stallled in 2001, after which the area witnessed a violent intifada or uprising.

    Roughly 60% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains under Israeli military control. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council election and since 2007, the PA has administered areas of the West Bank under its control while HAMAS maintains de facto control of Gaza. Fatah, the dominant Plaestinian political party in the West Bank, and HAMAS have made several attempts at reconciliation, but the factions have been unable to implement any agreements reached; a reconciliation agreement signed in October 2017 remains unimplemented.

  • Geography :: West Bank
  • Location field listing
    Middle East, west of Jordan, east of Israel
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    32 00 N, 35 15 E
    Map references field listing
    Middle East
    Area field listing
    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 as a means of depicting the entire area occupied by Israel in 1967

    country comparison to the world: 172
    Area - comparative field listing
    slightly smaller than Delaware
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 478 km
    border countries (2): Israel 330 km, Jordan 148 km
    Coastline field listing
    0 km (landlocked)
    Maritime claims field listing
    none (landlocked)
    Climate field listing
    temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
    Terrain field listing
    mostly rugged, dissected upland in west, flat plains descending to Jordan River Valley to the east
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Dead Sea -431 m
    highest point: Khallat al Batrakh 1,020 m
    Natural resources field listing
    arable land
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 43.3% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 7.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 11% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 24.9% (2011 est.)
    forest: 1.5% (2011 est.)
    other: 55.2% (2011 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    Irrigated land field listing
    240 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2012)
    Population distribution field listing
    Palestinian settlements are primarily located in the central to western half of the territory; Jewish settlements are found in pockets throughout, particularly in the northeast, north-central, and around Jerusalem
    Natural hazards field listing
    droughts
    Environment - current issues field listing
    adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment
    Geography - note field listing
    landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are about 380 Israeli civilian sites, including about 213 settlements and 132 small outpost communities in the West Bank and 35 sites in East Jerusalem (2017)
  • People and Society :: West Bank
  • Population field listing
    2,798,494 (July 2017 est.) (July 2018 est.)

    note: approximately 391,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2016); approximately 201,200 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2014)

    country comparison to the world: 140
    Nationality field listing
    noun: NA
    adjective: NA
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Palestinian Arab, Jewish, other
    Languages field listing
    Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
    Religions field listing
    Muslim 80-85% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 12-14%, Christian 1-2.5% (mainly Greek Orthodox), other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1% (2012 est.)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 36.09% (male 518,376 /female 491,676)
    15-24 years: 21.17% (male 302,474 /female 289,852)
    25-54 years: 34.48% (male 489,559 /female 475,402)
    55-64 years: 4.74% (male 68,317 /female 64,233)
    65 years and over: 3.52% (male 44,662 /female 53,943) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios field listing
    total dependency ratio: 75.8 (2015 est.)
    youth dependency ratio: 70.5 (2015 est.)
    elderly dependency ratio: 5.2 (2015 est.)
    potential support ratio: 19.1 (2015 est.)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Median age field listing
    total: 21.4 years
    male: 21.2 years
    female: 21.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Population growth rate field listing
    1.81% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    Birth rate field listing
    26 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    Death rate field listing
    3.5 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Net migration rate field listing
    -4.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 187
    Population distribution field listing
    Palestinian settlements are primarily located in the central to western half of the territory; Jewish settlements are found in pockets throughout, particularly in the northeast, north-central, and around Jerusalem
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 76.2% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 3% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate field listing
    45 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 100
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 13.6 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 15.3 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 75.4 years
    male: 73.4 years
    female: 77.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Total fertility rate field listing
    3.2 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Contraceptive prevalence rate field listing
    57.2% (2014)
    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank
    Drinking water source field listing
    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 (2015 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Physicians density field listing
    1.3 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    1.3 beds/1,000 population (2017)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 93% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 90.2% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 92.3% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 7% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 7.7% of population (2015 est.)

    note: note includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    NA
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight field listing
    1.4% (2014)

    note: estimate is for Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 118
    Education expenditures field listing
    5.3% of GDP (2017)

    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 55
    Literacy field listing
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2016 est.)
    total population: 96.9%
    male: 98.6%
    female: 95.2% (2016 est.)

    note: estimates are for Gaza and the West Bank

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 13 years
    male: 12 years
    female: 14 years (2017)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 field listing
    total: 46.9%
    male: 40.5%
    female: 75.3% (2018 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 7
  • Government :: West Bank
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: West Bank
    etymology: name refers to the location of the region - occupied and administered by Jordan after 1948 - that fell on the far side (west bank) of the Jordan River in relation to Jordan proper; the designation was retained following the 1967 Six-Day War and the subsequent changes in government
  • Economy :: West Bank
  • Economy - overview field listing

    In 2017, the economic outlook in the West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian Territories – remained fragile, as security concerns and political friction slowed economic growth. Unemployment in the West Bank remained high at 19.0% in the third quarter of 2017, only slightly better than 19.6% at the same point the previous year, while the labor force participation rate remained flat, year-on-year.

    Longstanding Israeli restrictions on imports, exports, and movement of goods and people continue to disrupt labor and trade flows and the territory’s industrial capacity, and constrain private sector development. The PA’s budget benefited from an effort to improve tax collection, coupled with lower spending in 2017, but the PA for the foreseeable future will continue to rely heavily on donor aid for its budgetary needs and infrastructure development.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $21.22 billion (2014 est.)
    $20.15 billion (2013 est.)
    $19.95 billion (2012 est.)

    note: data are in 2014 US dollars; includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 147
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $9.828 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    5.3% (2014 est.)
    1% (2013 est.)
    6% (2012 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 45
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $4,300 (2014 est.)
    $4,400 (2013 est.)
    $4,600 (2012 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 175
    Gross national saving field listing
    7.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
    9.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
    5% of GDP (2012 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 170
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 91.3% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 26.7% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 23% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 20% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -61% (2017 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 2.9% (2017 est.)
    industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)
    services: 77.6% (2017 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    Agriculture - products field listing
    olives, citrus fruit, vegetables; beef, dairy products
    Industries field listing
    small-scale manufacturing, quarrying, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    2.2% (2017 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 127
    Labor force field listing
    1.24 million (2017 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 139
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 11.5%
    industry: 34.4%
    services: 54.1% (2013 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    Unemployment rate field listing
    27.9% (2017 est.)
    27% (2016 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 202
    Population below poverty line field listing
    18% (2011 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: 3.2%
    highest 10%: 28.2% (2009 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    Distribution of family income - Gini index field listing
    34.5 (2009 est.)
    38.7 (2007 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 103
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 1.314 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 1.278 billion (2017 est.)

    note: includes Palestinian Authority expenditures in the Gaza Strip

    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    13.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    0.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    Public debt field listing
    24.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
    23.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    Fiscal year field listing
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    0.2% (2017 est.)
    -0.2% (2016 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 18
    Commercial bank prime lending rate field listing
    5.8% (31 December 2017 est.)
    6.15% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    Stock of narrow money field listing
    $416.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $317.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Stock of broad money field listing
    $416.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $317.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Stock of domestic credit field listing
    $2.211 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.712 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Market value of publicly traded shares field listing
    $3.339 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
    $3.187 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
    $3.247 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Current account balance field listing
    -$1.444 billion (2017 est.)
    -$1.348 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    Exports field listing
    $2.126 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.827 billion (2016 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 139
    Exports - commodities field listing
    stone, olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
    Imports field listing
    $6.565 billion (2017 est.)
    $6.207 billion (2016 est.)

    note: data include the Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 118
    Imports - commodities field listing
    food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold field listing
    $0 (31 December 2017 est.)
    $583 million (31 December 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    Debt - external field listing
    $1.662 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
    $1.467 billion (31 March 2015 est.)
    note: data include the Gaza Strip
    country comparison to the world: 158
    Exchange rates field listing
    new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
    3.606 (2017 est.)
    3.841 (2016 est.)
    3.841 (2015 est.)
    3.8869 (2014 est.)
    3.5779 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: West Bank
  • Electricity access field listing
    electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

    note: data for West Bank and Gaza Strip combined

    Electricity - production field listing
    1.093 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    6.489 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Electricity - imports field listing
    5.473 billion kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    170,000 kW (2016 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 170
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    78% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    22% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2018)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    24,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    19 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    22,740 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 214
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    3.113 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
  • Communications :: West Bank
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 472,293 (includes Gaza Strip)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 4,135,363 (includes Gaza Strip)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 150 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: continuing political and economic instability has impeded liberalization of the telecommunications industry (2018)
    domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed-line services; two Palestinian cellular providers, JAWWAL and WATANIYA MOBILE, launched 3G mobile networks in the West Bank in January 2018 after Israel lifted its ban (2018)
    international: country code - 970; 1 international switch in Ramallah
    Broadcast media field listing
    the Palestinian Authority operates 1 TV and 1 radio station; about 20 private TV and 40 radio stations; both Jordanian TV and satellite TV are accessible
    Internet country code field listing
    .psnote - same as Gaza Strip
    Internet users field listing
    total: 2.673 million (includes Gaza Strip)
    percent of population: 57.4% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 371,299
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2017 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 89
  • Transportation :: West Bank
  • Airports field listing
    2 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 2 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    Heliports field listing
    1 (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 4,686 km (2010)
    paved: 4,686 km (2010)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 145
  • Military and Security :: West Bank
  • Military branches field listing
    in accordance with the Oslo Accords, the PA is not permitted a conventional military but maintains security and police forces; PA security personnel have operated almost exclusively in the West Bank since HAMAS seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 (2012)
  • Terrorism :: West Bank
  • Terrorist groups - home based field listing
    Kahane Chai (Kach):
    aim(s): restore the biblical state of Israel; expel Arabs from Israel's biblical lands
    area(s) of operation: present in West Bank Jewish settlements, especially the Qiryat Arba' settlement in Hebron, where operatives have conducted bombings and shootings against Muslim and Christian Palestinians; operationally inactive in recent years (April 2018)
    Terrorist groups - foreign based field listing
    HAMAS:
    aim(s): grow its political and operational presence in the West Bank
    area(s) of operation: mostly political activity; small cells scattered throughout the West Bank for militant and illicit finance purposes (April 2018)
    Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps -- Qods Force (IRGC-QF):

    aim(s):  launch attacks against Israel, reduce Israel’s presence and influence in the West Bank, and destroy the state of Israel; works through proxies and allies such as Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

    area(s) of operations:  West Bank

    (June 2019)
    Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ):
    aim(s): enhance its staging capabilities in the West Bank to launch attacks against Israel
    area(s) of operation: mostly political activity; strives to maintain an operational presence (April 2018)
    Palestine Liberation Front (PLF):
    aim(s): enhance its networks in the West Bank and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel; establish a secular, Marxist Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
    area(s) of operation: maintains a recruitment and training presence in some of the West Bank's refugee camps (April 2018)
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP):
    aim(s): bolster its recruitment networks in the West Bank
    area(s) of operation: mostly political activity, maintains a recruitment presence targeting youths (April 2018)
  • Transnational Issues :: West Bank
  • Disputes - international field listing

    the current status of the West Bank is 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 Gaza and 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

    Refugees and internally displaced persons field listing
    refugees (country of origin): 846,465 (Palestinian refugees) (2019)
    IDPs: 238,000 (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) (2018)