Photos of Gaza Strip

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 in response to perceived Israeli provocations, and in 2001 negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip stalled. Subsequent attempts to re-start negotiations have not resulted in progress toward determining final status and resolving 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 borders, maritime territorial waters, cyberspace, telecommunications, 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 negotiated 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 negotiated ceasefires, averting 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. Hamas has also stood by while other militant groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, fought brief conflicts with Israel, most recently in August 2022 and May 2023.

On 7 October 2023, Hamas militants inside the Gaza Strip launched a combined unguided rocket and ground attack into Israel. The attack began with a barrage of more than 3,000 rockets fired toward Israel from Gaza, and included thousands of terrorists infiltrating Israel by land, sea, and air via paraglidersMilitants attacked military bases, clashed with security forces mostly in southern Israel, and simultaneously infiltrated civilian communitiesDuring the attack, terrorists carried out massacres and murdered civilians, including torture, acts of abuse and rape, a massacre at the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re'im, as well as kidnapping approximately 240 civilians, including men, women, children, and soldiers. These attacks were followed soon after by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) air strikes inside Gaza. The following day, Israeli Prime Minister NETANYAHU formally declared war on Gaza. The IDF, on 28 October, launched a large-scale ground assault inside Gaza that is ongoing as of January 2024.

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

comparison ranking: total 206

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

(2013) 151 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

2,098,389 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 150

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

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 39.75% (male 415,804/female 394,236)

15-64 years: 57.34% (male 580,693/female 587,807)

65 years and over: 2.91% (2023 est.) (male 31,671/female 27,533)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 74.3

youth dependency ratio: 68.2

elderly dependency ratio: 6.1

potential support ratio: 16.5 (2021 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Median age

total: 19.2 years (2023 est.)

male: 18.9 years

female: 19.5 years

comparison ranking: total 209

Population growth rate

2.07% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 41

Birth rate

27.5 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 38

Death rate

3 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 225

Net migration rate

-3.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 190

Population distribution

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

Urbanization

urban population: 77.6% of total population (2023)

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

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

20 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

comparison ranking: 126

Infant mortality rate

total: 16 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 17.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 14.6 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 91

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 73 years

female: 76.8 years

comparison ranking: total population 133

Total fertility rate

3.38 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 42

Gross reproduction rate

1.64 (2023 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

comparison ranking: 102

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

62.4% (2023 est.)

note: data includes Gaza 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

comparison ranking: 66

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 (2021)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and 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

Climate

temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers

Urbanization

urban population: 77.6% of total population (2023)

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

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 197

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 30.82 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 3.23 megatons (2016 est.)

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

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

840 million cubic meters (2020 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, 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

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$27.779 billion (2021 est.)
$25.95 billion (2020 est.)
$29.262 billion (2019 est.)

see entry for the West Bank

comparison ranking: 142

Real GDP growth rate

7.05% (2021 est.)
-11.32% (2020 est.)
1.36% (2019 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

comparison ranking: 56

Real GDP per capita

$5,600 (2021 est.)
$5,400 (2020 est.)
$6,200 (2019 est.)

see entry for the the West Bank

comparison ranking: 169

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.938 billion (2014 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.24% (2021 est.)
-0.74% (2020 est.)
1.58% (2019 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

comparison ranking: 39

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

comparison rankings: services 47; industry 138; agriculture 150

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

6.22% (2021 est.)

note: see entry for the West Bank

comparison ranking: 70

Labor force

1.249 million (2021 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

comparison ranking: 137

Unemployment rate

24.9% (2021 est.)
25.89% (2020 est.)
25.34% (2019 est.)

note: data exclude the West Bank

comparison ranking: 221

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 39.6% (2021 est.)

male: 33.7%

female: 69%

note: includes the West Bank

comparison ranking: total 15

Population below poverty line

30% (2011 est.)

note: data exclude the West Bank

Remittances

18.81% of GDP (2021 est.)
16.48% of GDP (2020 est.)
18.4% of GDP (2019 est.)

Budget

revenues: $3.803 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $5.002 billion (2020 est.)

see entry for the West Bank

Taxes and other revenues

18.78% (of GDP) (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 100

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$1.486 billion (2021 est.)
-$1.903 billion (2020 est.)
-$1.779 billion (2019 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

comparison ranking: 145

Exports

$3.18 billion (2021 est.)
$2.385 billion (2020 est.)
$2.659 billion (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 147

Exports - commodities

building stone, scrap iron, plastic lids, furniture, seating, dates, olive oil (2021)

note: data includes both Gaza Strip and West Bank export commodities

Imports

$10.245 billion (2021 est.)
$8.065 billion (2020 est.)
$9.161 billion (2019 est.)

see entry for the West Bank

comparison ranking: 112

Imports - commodities

food, consumer goods, fuel

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$872.541 million (31 December 2021 est.)
$697.075 million (31 December 2020 est.)
$658.352 million (31 December 2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 152

Debt - external

see entry for the West Bank

Exchange rates

see entry for the West Bank

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

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

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 168; transmission/distribution losses 96; imports 37; exports 157; consumption 122

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

comparison ranking: total emissions 145

Energy consumption per capita

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

comparison ranking: 143

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 457,706 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2021 est.)

note: data includes both the Gaza Strip and West Bank

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 97

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4,052,966 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 78 (2021 est.)

includes the West Bank

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 132

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: fixed-line 9 per 100 and mobile-cellular 28 per 100 (includes West Bank) (2021)

international: country code 970 or 972 (2018)

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

comparison ranking: total 114

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 376,911 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2020 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

comparison ranking: total 100

Transportation

Roadways

note: see entry for the West Bank

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gaza

Military and Security

Military and security forces

HAMAS maintains security forces inside Gaza in addition to its military wing, the 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades; the military wing ostensibly reports to the HAMAS Political Bureau but operates with considerable autonomy; there are several other militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip, most notably the Al-Quds Brigades of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which are usually but not always beholden to HAMAS's authority (2024)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the military wing of HAMAS has an estimated 20-25,000 fighters (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military wing is armed with light weapons, including an inventory of rocket, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, indirect fire (typically mortars), and armed UAV capabilities; HAMAS acquires its weapons through smuggling or local construction and receives significant military support from Iran (2024)

Military - note

since seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, HAMAS has had repeated clashes with Israel, including armed conflicts in 2008-2009, 2012, 2014, 2021, and 2023; Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also operates in the Gaza Strip and has cooperated with HAMAS; see Appendix T for more details on HAMAS and PIJ (2023)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

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

borders with both Egypt and Israel are sealed with barriers, fences, and walls; Israel completed an underground anti-tunnel barrier in 2021

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 1.6 million (Palestinian refugees) (2022)

IDPs: 1.7 million or approximately 75% of the population (as of 26 January 2024, since HAMAS's attack on Israel on 7 October 2023)

1.6 million (includes persons displaced within the Gaza Strip due to the intensification of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict between June 2014 and 7 October 2023 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) (2022)