Photos of Gaza Strip

Introduction

Background

Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., the Gaza Strip 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 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, the dominant Palestinian political faction in the West Bank, and HAMAS failed, leading to violent clashes between their respective supporters and 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 enact 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 culminating in late August with an open-ended truce. Since 2014, Palestinian militants and the Israel Defense Forces have exchanged projectiles and air strikes respectively, sometimes lasting multiple days and resulting in multiple deaths on both sides. Egypt, Qatar, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process have negotiated multiple ceasefires to avert a broader conflict. Since March 2018, HAMAS has coordinated weekly demonstrations along the Gaza security fence, many of which have turned violent, resulting in one Israeli soldier death and several Israeli soldier injuries as well as more than 200 Palestinian deaths and thousands of injuries.

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

country comparison to the world: 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

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m

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

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

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

People and Society

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: 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.)

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.)

country comparison to the world: 213

Birth rate

28.1 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 37

Death rate

2.94 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 225

Net migration rate

-4.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 197

Population distribution

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

Urbanization

urban population: 76.7% of total population (2020)

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

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

15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.13 male(s)/female

total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

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

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 117

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.6 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 16.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 14.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.14 years

male: 73.38 years

female: 77 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 124

Contraceptive prevalence rate

57.2% (2014)

note:  includes Gaza Strip and West Bank

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.1% of population

rural: 97.1% of population

total: 96.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.9% of population

rural: 2.9% of population

total: 3.2% of population (2017 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Physicians density

2.77 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 99.3% of population

total: 99.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0.7% of population

total: 0.2% of population (2017 est.)

note: note includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

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: 122

Education expenditures

5.3% of GDP (2017)

note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 45

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.2%

male: 98.7%

female: 95.7% (2018)

note: estimates are for Gaza and the West Bank

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2013)

note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 42.2%

male: 37%

female: 69.4% (2018 est.)

note: includes the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 8

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 region, 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 growth rate

-15.2% (2014 est.)

5.6% (2013 est.)

7% (2012 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 222

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.2% (2017 est.)

-0.2% (2016 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 27

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

see entry for the West Bank

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.938 billion (2014 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

country comparison to the world: 164

Gross national saving

15.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

14.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

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

country comparison to the world: 125

Labor force

1.24 million (2017 est.)

note: excludes the West Bank

country comparison to the world: 133

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

country comparison to the world: 200

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

country comparison to the world: 157

Exports

$1.955 billion (2017 est.)

$1.827 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 145

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

country comparison to the world: 115

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

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2018)

note: data for Gaza Strip and West Bank combined

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 472,293 (includes the West Bank); (July 2016 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (includes the West Bank); (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 92

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4,135,363 (includes the West Bank)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 76 (includes the West Bank) (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 128

Telecommunication systems

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; fixed-line 9 per 100 and mobile-cellular 76 per 100 (includes West Bank)

international: country code 970 or 972 (2018)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

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

Internet country code

.psnote - same as the West Bank

Internet users

total: 2.673 million (includes the West Bank)

percent of population: 57.4% (July 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 320,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2016 est.)

note: includes West Bank

country comparison to the world: 100

Transportation

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

under 914 m: 1

note - non-operational

Heliports

1 (2013)

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 leadership; there are several other militant groups operating in Gaza, most notably the Al-Quds Brigades of Palestine Islamic Jihad, which are usually but not always beholden to HAMAS's authority (2021)

Military and security service personnel strengths

the military wing of HAMAS has an estimated 20-25,000 fighters (2020)

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; Iran provides military support to HAMAS (2020)

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 (ISIS)-Sinai Province; Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; Palestine Islamic Jihad; Palestine Liberation Front; PFLP-General Command; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (2019)

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

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): 1,460,315 (Palestinian refugees) (2020)

IDPs: 243,000 (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) (2019)