Middle East :: Gaza Strip
  • Introduction :: Gaza Strip
  • Background:

    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.

    Israel by late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, but it 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. Since HAMAS’s takeover, Israel and Egypt have enforced tight restrictions on movement and access of goods and individuals into and out of the territory. Fatah and HAMAS have since reached a series of agreements aimed at restoring political unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank but have struggled to effect them; a reconciliation agreement signed in October 2017 remains unimplemented.

    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 periodic attacks. The UN in 2015 published a study assessing that the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable by 2020 unless steps are taken to address Gaza’s economic and humanitarian situation.

  • Geography :: Gaza Strip
  • Location:
    Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
    Geographic coordinates:
    31 25 N, 34 20 E
    Map references:
    Middle East
    Area:
    total: 360 sq km
    land: 360 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 207
    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:
    0 m lowest point: Mediterranean Sea
    105 highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Awdah)
    Natural resources:
    arable land, natural gas
    Irrigated land:
    240 sq km; note - includes the West Bank (2012)
    Population distribution:
    population concentrated in major cities, particularly Gaza City in the north
    Natural hazards:
    droughts
    Environment - current issues:
    soil degradation; desertification; water pollution from chemicals and pesticides; salination of fresh water; improper sewage treatment; water-borne disease; 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 (2017)
  • People and Society :: Gaza Strip
  • Population:
    1,836,713 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    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 <1.0%, other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1.0% (2012 est.)

    note: dismantlement of Israeli settlements was completed in September 2005; Gaza has had no Jewish population since then

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 44.1% (male 415,746 /female 394,195)
    15-24 years: 21.34% (male 197,797 /female 194,112)
    25-54 years: 28.5% (male 256,103 /female 267,285)
    55-64 years: 3.48% (male 33,413 /female 30,592)
    65 years and over: 2.58% (male 24,863 /female 22,607) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios:
    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:
    total: 17.4 years
    male: 17.1 years
    female: 17.8 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 219
    Population growth rate:
    2.25% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    Birth rate:
    30.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    Death rate:
    3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 222
    Net migration rate:
    -5.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    Population distribution:
    population concentrated in major cities, particularly Gaza City in the north
    Urbanization:
    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:
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate:
    45 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 98
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 17.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 74.4 years (2018 est.)
    male: 72.7 years (2018 est.)
    female: 76.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    Total fertility rate:
    3.97 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    Contraceptive prevalence rate:
    57.2% (includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank) (2014)
    Physicians density:
    2.2 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density:
    1.32 beds/1,000 population (2015)
    Drinking water source:
    improved: urban: 50.7% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 81.5% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 58.4% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 49.3% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 18.5% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 41.6% of population (2015 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Sanitation facility access:
    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:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
    1.4% (2014)

    note: estimate is for Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 117
    Education expenditures:
    5.7% of GDP (2016)

    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 43
    Literacy:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2016 est.)
    total population: 96.9% (2016 est.)
    male: 98.6% (2016 est.)
    female: 95.2% (2016 est.)

    note: estimates are for Gaza and the West Bank

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
    total: 13 years (2015)
    male: 12 years (2015)
    female: 14 years (2015)

    note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
    total: 40.7% (2015 est.)
    male: 36.4% (2015 est.)
    female: 60.8% (2015 est.)

    note: includes the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 11
  • Government :: Gaza Strip
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Gaza Strip
    local long form: none
    local short form: Qita' Ghazzah
    etymology: named for the largest city in the region, Gaza, whose settlement can be traced back to at least the 15th century B.C. (as "Ghazzat")
  • Economy :: Gaza Strip
  • Economy - overview:

    Movement and access restrictions, violent attacks, and the slow pace of post-conflict reconstruction continue to degrade economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories. Israeli controls became more restrictive after HAMAS seized control of the territory in June 2007. Under Hamas control, Gaza has suffered from rising unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and a sharp contraction of the private sector, which had relied primarily on export markets.

    Since April 2017, the Palestinian Authority has reduced payments for electricity supplied to Gaza and cut salaries for its employees there, exacerbating poor economic conditions. Since 2014, Egypt’s crackdown on the Gaza Strip’s extensive tunnel-based smuggling network has exacerbated fuel, construction material, and consumer goods shortages in the territory. Donor support for reconstruction following the 51-day conflict in 2014 between Israel and HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant groups has fallen short of post-conflict needs.

    GDP (purchasing power parity):

    see entry for the West Bank

    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $2.938 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)

    note: excludes the West Bank

    GDP - real growth rate:
    -15.2% (2014 est.)
    5.6% (2013 est.)
    7% (2012 est.)

    note: excludes the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 223
    GDP - per capita (PPP):

    see entry for the the West Bank

    GDP - composition, by end use:
    household consumption: 88.6% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 26.3% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 22.4% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 18.6% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -55.6% (2017 est.)

    note: data exclude the West Bank

    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 3% (2017 est.)
    industry: 21.1% (2017 est.)
    services: 75% (2017 est.)

    note: data exclude the West Bank

    Agriculture - products:
    olives, fruit, vegetables, flowers; beef, dairy products
    Industries:
    textiles, food processing, furniture
    Industrial production growth rate:
    2.2% (2017 est.)

    note: see entry for the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 125
    Labor force:
    1.24 million (2017 est.)

    note: excludes the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 138
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 84.8% (2015 est.)
    industry: 10% (2015 est.)
    services: 84.8% (2015 est.)

    note: data exclude the West Bank

    Unemployment rate:
    27.9% (2017 est.)
    27% (2016 est.)

    note: data exclude the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 201
    Population below poverty line:
    30% (2011 est.)

    note: data exclude the West Bank

    Budget:
    see entry for the West Bank
    Fiscal year:
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    0.2% (2017 est.)
    -0.2% (2016 est.)

    note: excludes the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 16
    Commercial bank prime lending rate:

    see entry for the West Bank

    Stock of narrow money:

    see entry for the West Bank

    Stock of broad money:
    $2.901 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $2.538 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 129
    Stock of domestic credit:
    $2.041 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $1.712 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Current account balance:
    -$1.444 billion (2017 est.)
    -$1.348 billion (2016 est.)

    note: excludes the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 152
    Exports:
    $1.955 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.827 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 142
    Exports - commodities:
    strawberries, carnations, vegetables, fish (small and irregular shipments, as permitted to transit the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing)
    Imports:

    see entry for the West Bank

    Imports - commodities:
    food, consumer goods, fuel
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
    $446.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $583 million (31 December 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    Debt - external:

    see entry for the West Bank

    Exchange rates:

    see entry for the West Bank

  • Energy :: Gaza Strip
  • Electricity access:
    population without electricity: 80,930 (2012)
    electrification - total population: 98% (2012)
    electrification - urban areas: 99% (2012)
    electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

    note: data for Gaza Strip and West Bank combined

    Electricity - production:
    51,000 kWh (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Electricity - consumption:
    202,000 kWh (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Electricity - exports:
    0 kWh (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Electricity - imports:
    193,000 kWh (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    Crude oil - proved reserves:
    0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 139
  • Communications :: Gaza Strip
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 432,000 (includes the West Bank); (July 2016 est.) (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (includes the West Bank); (July 2016 est.) (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 3,531,000 (includes the West Bank) (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 76 (includes the West Bank) (July 2016 est.)
    Telephone system:
    general assessment: Israel has final say in allocating frequencies in the Gaza Strip and does not permit anything beyond a 2G network (2018)
    domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed-line services; the Palestinian JAWWAL company provides cellular services; a slow 2G network allows calls and limited data transmission (2018)
    international: country code - 970 (2018)
    Broadcast media:
    1 TV station and about 10 radio stations; satellite TV accessible (2008)
    Internet country code:
    .psnote - same as the West Bank
    Internet users:
    total: 2.673 million (includes the West Bank) (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 57.4% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions:
    total: 320,500 (2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2016 est.)

    note: includes West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 93
  • Transportation :: Gaza Strip
  • Airports:
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 222
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 1 (2017)
    over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)
    Heliports:
    1 (2013)
    Roadways:

    note: see entry for the West Bank

    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Gaza
  • Military and Security :: Gaza Strip
  • 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 based in the Gaza Strip (2018)
  • Terrorism :: Gaza Strip
  • Terrorist groups - home based:
    Army of Islam (AOI):
    aim(s): stage attacks against Israel and Egypt from the Gaza Strip and, ultimately, establish an Islamic emirate in the region
    area(s) of operation: headquartered in Gaza; heaviest presence and operational activity is in the Gaza Strip
    note: operatives have a history of launching low-impact rockets into Israeli and Egyptian territory; the Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam, JAI) in Syria is unrelated to AOI (April 2018)
    HAMAS:
    aim(s): maintain control of the Gaza Strip to facilitate Palestinian nationalist aims
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in Gaza (April 2018)
    Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC):
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip against Israel and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in Gaza, although present in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Israel (April 2018)
    Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ):
    aim(s): enhance its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip to launch attacks against Israel
    area(s) of operation:
    stages rocket attacks against civilians and military personnel primarily in southern Israel (April 2018)
    Palestine Liberation Front (PLF):
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip against Israel and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel in order to establish a secular, Marxist Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
    area(s) of operation:
    based in Gaza; maintains a recruitment and paramilitary training presence in most of the refugee camps across the Gaza Strip (April 2018)
    PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC):
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities to prepare fighters for deployment to Syria and to launch occasional attacks inside Israel; ultimately, seeks to establish a Palestinian state
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in Gaza; as a longtime supporter of the Syrian Government, the group trains and deploys fighters to Syria to fight on behalf of President Bashar al-ASAD; stages occasional small-scale attacks inside Israel (April 2018)
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP):
    aim(s): destroy the state of Israel and, ultimately, establish a secular, Marxist Palestinian state
    area(s) of operation:
    headquartered in Gaza, recruiting and training fighters; stages limited attacks against Israel (April 2018)
    Terrorist groups - foreign based:
    Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB):
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip against Israel to continue its attempts to disrupt Israel's economy and its efforts to establish security
    area(s) of operation:
    launches homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip into populated Israeli territory, primarily the cities of Nahariya and Ashkelon (April 2018)
    al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB):
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip against Israel and, ultimately, establish a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem
    area(s) of operation:
    stages attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli soldiers and civilians inside Israel, including launching rockets and missiles (April 2018)
    Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS)-Sinai:
    aim(s): bolster its staging capabilities in the Gaza Strip against Israel and, ultimately, establish a regional Islamic caliphate
    area(s) of operation:
    stages attacks against Egyptian forces along the Gaza Strip-Egypt border and launches rockets into southern Israel from the border closest to Israel
    note: formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (April 2018)
  • Transnational Issues :: Gaza Strip
  • Disputes - international:
    the status of the Gaza Strip is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiationsIsrael removed settlers and military personnel from Gaza Strip in September 2005
    Refugees and internally displaced persons:
    refugees (country of origin): 1,348,536 (Palestinian refugees) (2017)
    IDPs: 231,000 (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) (2017)