This image covers an area roughly 100x150 km; due to shuttle orientation, north is located at approximately eleven o'clock in this image. Shown are the Gaza Strip (roughly the center third of the coastal strip) and the Mediterranean Sea. The straight-line Egypt-Israel border is apparent in the lower center because of a difference in vegetation patterns, the Egyptian side (south) being less vegetated perhaps due to heavy use of the land for grazing. Photo courtesy of NASA.
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Introduction

Background

The Gaza Strip has been under the de facto governing authority of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) since 2007, and has faced years of conflict, poverty, and humanitarian crises. Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., the Gaza Strip area has been dominated by many different peoples and empires throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. The Gaza Strip 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; Israel captured it in the Six-Day War in 1967. Under a series of agreements known as the Oslo accords signed between 1993 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.

In 2000, a violent intifada or uprising began, and in 2001 negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West bank and Gaza Strip stalled. Subsequent attempts to re-start negotiations have not resulted in progress toward determining final status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel in 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, HAMAS won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council election. Fatah, the dominant Palestinian political faction in the West Bank, and HAMAS failed to maintain a unity government, leading to violent clashes between their respective supporters and HAMAS’s violent seizure of all PA 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 enact them.

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israel Defense Forces periodically exchange projectiles and air strikes, respectively, threatening broader conflict. In May 2021, HAMAS launched rockets at Israel, sparking an 11-day conflict that also involved other Gaza-based militant groups. Egypt, Qatar, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process have negotiated ceasefires to avert a broader conflict. Since 2018, HAMAS has also coordinated demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel security fence. Many of these protests have turned violent, resulting in several Israeli soldiers’ deaths and injuries as well as more than 200 Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries, most of which occurred during weekly March of Return protests from 2018 to the end of 2019. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

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

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

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

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

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

Natural resources

arable land, natural gas

Irrigated land

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

Population distribution

population concentrated in major cities, particularly Gaza City in the north

Geography - note

once a strategic strip of land along Mideast-North African trade routes that has experienced an incredibly turbulent history; the town of Gaza itself has been besieged countless times in its history; Israel evacuated its civilian settlements and soldiers from the Gaza Strip in 2005

People and Society

Population

1,997,328 (2022 est.)

Nationality

noun: NA

adjective: NA

Ethnic groups

Palestinian Arab

Languages

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

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:

Religions

Muslim 98.0 - 99.0% (predominantly Sunni), Christian <1.0%, other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1.0% (2012 est.)

note:  Israel dismantled its settlements in September 2005; Gaza has had no Jewish population since then

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.53% (male 418,751/female 397,013)

15-24 years: 21.67% (male 210,240/female 205,385)

25-54 years: 29.47% (male 275,976/female 289,277)

55-64 years: 3.66% (male 36,409/female 33,731)

65 years and over: 2.68% (male 27,248/female 24,191) (2020 est.)

2022 population pyramid
2022 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 71.2

youth dependency ratio: 65.7

elderly dependency ratio: 5.5

potential support ratio: 18.2 (2020 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Median age

total: 18 years

male: 17.7 years

female: 18.4 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

2.02% (2022 est.)

Birth rate

27.67 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Death rate

2.91 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Net migration rate

-4.55 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

Population distribution

population concentrated in major cities, particularly Gaza City in the north

Urbanization

urban population: 77.3% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.85% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

27 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.23 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 16.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.4 years

male: 73.65 years

female: 77.25 years (2022 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.44 children born/woman (2022 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

57.3% (2019/20)

note:  includes Gaza Strip and West Bank

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.9% of population

rural: 99% of population

total: 98.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.1% of population

rural: 1% of population

total: 1.1% of population (2020 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Physicians density

2.71 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99.9% of population

rural: 98.6% of population

total: 99.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.1% of population

rural: 1.4% of population

total: 0.4% of population (2020 est.)

note: note includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Major infectious diseases

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Asia; the Gaza Strip is currently considered a high risk to travelers for polio; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

2.1% (2019/20)

note: estimate is for Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0.7%

women married by age 18: 13.4% (2020 est.)

note: includes both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Education expenditures

5.3% of GDP (2018 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.5%

male: 98.8%

female: 96.2% (2020)

note: estimates are for Gaza Strip and the West Bank

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 12 years

female: 14 years (2020)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 42.1%

male: 36.6%

female: 70% (2020 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

Environment

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

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 3.23 megatons (2016 est.)

note: data represent combined total from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Climate

temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers

Urbanization

urban population: 77.3% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.85% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

note: on 21 March 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Asia; the Gaza Strip is currently considered a high risk to travelers for polio; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1.387 million tons (2016 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 6,935 tons (2013 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 0.5% (2013 est.)

note: data represent combined total from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 181.2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 32 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 162 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

note: data represent combined total from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Total renewable water resources

837 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

note: data represent combined total from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Government

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 enclave, Gaza, whose settlement can be traced back to at least the 15th century B.C. (as "Ghazzat")

Economy

Economic 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.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

see entry for the West Bank

Real GDP growth rate

-15.2% (2014 est.)

5.6% (2013 est.)

7% (2012 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

Real GDP per capita

$6,220 (2019 est.)

$6,318 (2018 est.)

$6,402 (2017 est.)

see entry for the the West Bank

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.938 billion (2014 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.2% (2017 est.)

-0.2% (2016 est.)

note: excludes 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

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

Agricultural products

tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, poultry, milk, potatoes, sheep milk, eggplants, gourds

Industries

textiles, food processing, furniture

Industrial production growth rate

2.2% (2017 est.)

note: see entry for the West Bank

Labor force

1.24 million (2017 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 5.2%

industry: 10%

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

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 42.1%

male: 36.6%

female: 70% (2020 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

Population below poverty line

30% (2011 est.)

note: data exclude the West Bank

Budget

see entry for the West Bank

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.444 billion (2017 est.)

-$1.348 billion (2016 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

Exports

$1.955 billion (2017 est.)

$1.827 billion (2016 est.)

Exports - commodities

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

Imports

$8.59 billion (2018 est.)

$7.852 billion (2017 est.)

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.)

Debt - external

see entry for the West Bank

Exchange rates

see entry for the West Bank

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2018)

note: data for Gaza Strip and West Bank combined

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 215,000 kW (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

consumption: 5,702,816,000 kWh (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

imports: 5.9 billion kWh (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

transmission/distribution losses: 847 million kWh (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 100% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

refined petroleum consumption: 24,600 bbl/day (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

3.341 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.) Data includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

from petroleum and other liquids: 3.341 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.) Data includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.) Data includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

Energy consumption per capita

13.604 million Btu/person (2019 est.) Data represented includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 466,283 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2020 est.)

includes the West Bank

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4,274,119 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 84 (2020 est.)

includes the West Bank

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

Israel, which controls Palestinian frequencies and telecom infrastructure, limits mobile internet speeds in the Palestinian territories to levels that are significantly lower than in Israel and Jewish West Bank settlements; the World Bank urged Israel to let Palestinian cellular companies set up more advanced networks, and to ease restrictions on the import of equipment needed to build and operate them; Israel is rolling out fifth generation technology for its citizens, while the West Bank operates on 3G and Gaza, 2G; Israeli mobile operators don’t officially service Palestinian areas, but many Palestinians use the faster Israeli networks with SIM cards; the Times of Israel reported in November that Israel tentatively agreed to let Palestinian operators launch 4G services

(2022)

domestic: Israeli company BEZEQ 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; fixed-line 9 per 100 and mobile-cellular 84 per 100 (includes West Bank) (2020)

international: country code 970 or 972 (2018)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced a downturn, particularly in mobile device production; progress toward 5G implementation has resumed, as well as upgrades to infrastructure; consumer spending on telecom services has increased due to the surge in demand for capacity and bandwidth; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home is still evident, and the spike in this area has seen growth opportunities for development of new tools and increased services

Broadcast media

1 TV station and about 10 radio stations; satellite TV accessible

Internet country code

.ps; note - IANA has designated .ps for the Gaza Strip, same as the West Bank

Internet users

total: 3,602,452 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 75% (2020 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 376,911 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2020 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

Transportation

Airports

total: 1 (2021)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2021)

note - non-operational

Heliports

1 (2021)

Roadways

note: see entry for the West Bank

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gaza

Military and Security

Military and security forces

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; there are several other militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip, most notably the Al-Quds Brigades of Palestine Islamic Jihad, which are usually but not always beholden to HAMAS's authority (2022)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the military wing of HAMAS has an estimated 20-25,000 fighters (2022)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military wing of HAMAS is armed with light weapons, including an inventory of improvised rocket, anti-tank missile, and mortar capabilities; HAMAS acquires its weapons through smuggling or local construction and receives some military support from Iran (2021)

Military - note

since seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, HAMAS has claimed responsibility for numerous rocket attacks into Israel and organized protests at the border between Gaza and Israel, resulting in violent clashes, casualties, and reprisal military actions by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF); HAMAS and Israel fought an 11-day conflict in May of 2021, which ended in an informal truce; sporadic clashes continued into 2022, including incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza and retaliatory IDF strikes; Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has conducted numerous attacks on Israel since the 1980s, including a barrage of mortar and rocket strikes in 2020, also prompting IDF counter-strikes; see Appendix T for more details on HAMAS and PIJ

in 2017, HAMAS and PIJ announced the formation of a "joint operations room" to coordinate the activities of their armed wings; by late 2020, the formation consisted of 12 militant groups operating in Gaza and had conducted its first joint training exercise (2022)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Army of Islam; Abdallah Azzam Brigades; al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade; HAMAS; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Qods Force; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham - Sinai Province (ISIS-SP); Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ); Palestine Liberation Front; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); PFLP-General Command

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

according to the Oslo Accords, 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 September 2005

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 1,476,706 (Palestinian refugees) (2020)

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) (2020); note - data represent Gaza Strip and West Bank