Middle East :: West Bank
  • Introduction :: West Bank
  • Background:

    From the early 16th century through 1917, the area now known as the West Bank fell under Ottoman rule. Following World War I, the Allied powers (France, UK, Russia) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. After World War II, the UN passed a resolution to establish two states within the Mandate, and designated a territory including what is now known as the West Bank as part of the proposed Arab state. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan), which annexed the West Bank in 1950. In June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel transferred security and civilian responsibility for a number of Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under a series of agreements signed between 1993 and 1999, the so-called "Oslo Accords." Roughly 60% of the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) remains under Israeli military control. Follow-on negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid-2000. Since HAMAS's violent seizure of military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip in 2007, the PA has administered those areas of the West Bank under its control while Hamas maintains de facto control of Gaza. Fatah and HAMAS have made several attempts at reconciliation, but the factions have been unable to implement any agreements reached.

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

    country comparison to the world: 172
    Area - comparative:
    slightly smaller than Delaware
    Land boundaries:
    total: 478 km
    border countries (2): Israel 330 km, Jordan 148 km
    Coastline:
    0 km (landlocked)
    Maritime claims:
    none (landlocked)
    Climate:
    temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
    Terrain:
    mostly rugged, dissected upland in west, flat plains descending to Jordan River Valley to the east
    Elevation:
    -431 m lowest point: Dead Sea
    1020 highest point: Khallat al Batrakh
    Natural resources:
    arable land
    Land use:
    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:
    240 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2012)
    Population distribution:
    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:
    droughts
    Environment - current issues:
    adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment
    Geography - note:
    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:
    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:
    noun: NA
    adjective: NA
    Ethnic groups:
    Palestinian Arab, Jewish, other
    Languages:
    Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
    Religions:
    Muslim 80-85% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 12-14%, Christian 1-2.5% (mainly Greek Orthodox), other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1% (2012 est.)
    Age structure:
    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:
    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: 21.4 years
    male: 21.2 years
    female: 21.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Population growth rate:
    1.81% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    Birth rate:
    26 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    Death rate:
    3.5 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Net migration rate:
    -4.5 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    Population distribution:
    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:
    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: 1.04 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.04 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: 100
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 13.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 15.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 104
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 75.4 years (2018 est.)
    male: 73.4 years (2018 est.)
    female: 77.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Total fertility rate:
    3.2 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    Contraceptive prevalence rate:
    57.2% (includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank) (2014)
    Physicians density:
    1.3 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density:
    1.26 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: 118
    Education expenditures:
    5.7% of GDP (2015)

    note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

    country comparison to the world: 47
    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 Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 12
  • Government :: West Bank
  • Country name:
    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:

    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):
    $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):
    $9.828 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 45
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $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:
    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:
    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:
    agriculture: 2.9% (2017 est.)
    industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)
    services: 77.6% (2017 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: includes Gaza Strip

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

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: includes Gaza Strip

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

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 103
    Budget:
    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:
    13.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
    0.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 39
    Public debt:
    24.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
    23.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    Fiscal year:
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    0.2% (2017 est.)
    -0.2% (2016 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 18
    Commercial bank prime lending rate:
    5.8% (31 December 2017 est.)
    6.15% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 128
    Stock of narrow money:
    $416.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $317.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 176
    Stock of broad money:
    $416.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $317.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Stock of domestic credit:
    $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:
    $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:
    -$1.444 billion (2017 est.)
    -$1.348 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    Exports:
    $2.126 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.827 billion (2016 est.)

    note: excludes Gaza Strip

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

    note: data include the Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 118
    Imports - commodities:
    food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
    $0 (31 December 2017 est.)
    $583 million (31 December 2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    Debt - external:
    $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:
    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:
    population without electricity: 80,930 (2012)
    electrification - total population: 98% (2012)
    electrification - urban areas: 99% (2012)
    electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

    note: data for West Bank and Gaza Strip combined

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

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 170
    Electricity - from fossil fuels:
    78% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Electricity - from other renewable sources:
    22% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    Crude oil - production:
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 214
    Crude oil - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Crude oil - imports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Crude oil - proved reserves:
    0 bbl (1 January 2018)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Refined petroleum products - production:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Refined petroleum products - consumption:
    24,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    Refined petroleum products - exports:
    19 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Refined petroleum products - imports:
    22,740 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 113
    Natural gas - production:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 214
    Natural gas - consumption:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Natural gas - exports:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Natural gas - imports:
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Natural gas - proved reserves:
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
    3.113 million Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
  • Communications :: West Bank
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 472,293 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 4,135,363 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 150 (includes Gaza Strip) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    Telephone system:
    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 (2018)
    Broadcast media:
    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 (2013)
    Internet country code:
    .psnote - same as Gaza Strip
    Internet users:
    total: 2.673 million (includes Gaza Strip) (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 57.4% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions:
    total: 371,299 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2017 est.)

    note: includes Gaza Strip

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

    note: includes Gaza Strip

    country comparison to the world: 153
  • Military and Security :: West Bank
  • Military branches:
    in accordance with the Interim Agreement, the PA is not permitted a conventional military but can maintain security forces; PA security forces have operated almost exclusively in the West Bank since Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007
  • Terrorism :: West Bank
  • Terrorist groups - home based:
    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:
    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)
    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:
    the current status of the West Bank is subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiationIsrael continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West BankIsrael withdrew from Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank in August 2005since 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:
    refugees (country of origin): 809,738 (Palestinian refugees) (2017)
    IDPs: 131,000 (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)