Photos of West Bank

Introduction

Background

The landlocked West Bank - the larger of the two Palestinian territories - is home to some three million Palestinians. Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., the West Bank has been dominated by many different peoples throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. The West Bank fell to British forces during World War I, becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan), which annexed the West Bank in 1950; it was captured by Israel 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 West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.

In addition to establishing the PA as an interim government, the Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas with one fully managed by the PA, another fully administered by Israel, and a third with shared control until a permanent agreement could be reached between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. In 2000, a violent intifada or uprising began across the Palestinian territories, and in 2001 negotiations for a permanent agreement between the PLO and Israel on final status issues stalled. Subsequent attempts to re-start direct negotiations have not resulted in progress toward determining final status of the area.

The PA last held national elections in 2006, when the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). 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. In December 2018, the Palestinian Constitutional Court dissolved the PLC. In recent years, Fatah and HAMAS have made several attempts at reconciliation, but the factions have been unable to implement agreements.

Since 1994, the PA has administered parts of the West Bank under its control, mainly the major Palestinian population centers and areas immediately surrounding them. Roughly 60% of the West Bank remains under full Israeli civil and military control, impeding movement of people and goods through the territory.

 

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

Geography

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

comparison ranking: total 171

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

highest point: Khallat al Batrakh 1,020 m

lowest point: Dead Sea -431 m

Land use

agricultural land: 43.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 7.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 11% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 24.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.5% (2018 est.)

other: 55.2% (2018 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

Irrigated land

(2013) 151 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Dead Sea (shared with Jordan and Israel) - 1,020 sq km
note - endorheic hypersaline lake; 9.6 times saltier than the ocean; lake shore is 431 meters below sea level

Population distribution

the most populous Palestinian communities in the West Bank are located in the central ridge and western half of its territory; Jewish settlements are located throughout the West Bank, the most populous in the Seam Zone--between the 1949 Armistice Line and the separation barrier--and around Jerusalem

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

Population

3,176,549 (2023 est.)

note: approximately 432,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2019); approximately 227,100 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2019)

comparison ranking: 135

Nationality

noun: NA

adjective: NA

Ethnic groups

Palestinian Arab, Jewish, other

Languages

Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and 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 80-85% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 12-14%, Christian 1-2.5% (mainly Greek Orthodox), other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1% (2012 est.)

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 34.07% (male 533,142/female 506,268)

15-64 years: 61.94% (male 960,379/female 929,324)

65 years and over: 3.99% (2023 est.) (male 57,449/female 64,198)

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: 21.9 years

male: 21.7 years

female: 22.2 years (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 181

Population growth rate

1.66% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 55

Birth rate

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

comparison ranking: 48

Death rate

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

comparison ranking: 223

Net migration rate

-4.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Population distribution

the most populous Palestinian communities in the West Bank are located in the central ridge and western half of its territory; Jewish settlements are located throughout the West Bank, the most populous in the Seam Zone--between the 1949 Armistice Line and the separation barrier--and around Jerusalem

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

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 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: 125

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.91 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 17.24 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 12.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: total 97

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.63 years

male: 74.55 years

female: 78.84 years (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: total population 104

Total fertility rate

2.91 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 48

Gross reproduction rate

1.41 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

57.3% (2019/20)

note: includes Gaza Strip and the 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

3.25 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 31 August 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Asia; the West Bank 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: 107

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: 65

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 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

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 39.6%

male: 33.7%

female: 69% (2021 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total 14

Environment

Environment - current issues

adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment

Climate

temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters

Land use

agricultural land: 43.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 7.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 11% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 24.9% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.5% (2018 est.)

other: 55.2% (2018 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

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

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 189

Air pollutants

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.

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Dead Sea (shared with Jordan and Israel) - 1,020 sq km
note - endorheic hypersaline lake; 9.6 times saltier than the ocean; lake shore is 431 meters below sea level

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 200 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 30 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 220 million cubic meters (2020 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: West Bank

etymology: name refers to the location of the region of the British Mandate of Palestine that was occupied and administered by Jordan in 1948, as it is located 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 administration

Economy

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

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

note: data are in 2017 dollars and includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 141

Real GDP growth rate

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

note: excludes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 55

Real GDP per capita

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

note: data are in 2017 dollars and includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 169

GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.828 billion (2014 est.)

note: excludes Gaza Strip

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

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

note: excludes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 187

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

comparison rankings: agriculture 154; industry 155; services 39

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

Agricultural products

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

Industries

small-scale manufacturing, quarrying, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs

Industrial production growth rate

6.22% (2021 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 69

Labor force

1.249 million (2021 est.)

note: excludes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 138

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 11.5%

industry: 34.4%

services: 54.1% (2013 est.)

note: excludes Gaza Strip

Unemployment rate

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

note: excludes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 8

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 39.6%

male: 33.7%

female: 69% (2021 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total 14

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

33.7 (2016 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 124

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 28.2% (2009 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

Budget

revenues: $3.803 billion (2020 est.)

expenditures: $5.002 billion (2020 est.)

note: includes Palestinian Authority expenditures in the Gaza Strip

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 39

Public debt

24.4% of GDP (2014 est.)
23.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

comparison ranking: 179

Taxes and other revenues

18.78% (of GDP) (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 101

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

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

comparison ranking: 145

Exports

$3.18 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in current year dollars and includes Gaza Strip
$2.385 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars and includes Gaza Strip
$2.659 billion (2019 est.)

note: excludes Gaza Strip

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.) note: data are in current year dollars and includes Gaza Strip
$8.065 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars and includes Gaza Strip
$9.161 billion (2019 est.)

note: data include the Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 113

Imports - commodities

food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals

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: 151

Debt - external

$1.662 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.467 billion (31 March 2015 est.)

note: data include the Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: 158

Exchange rates

new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
3.606 (2017 est.)
3.841 (2016 est.)
3.841 (2015 est.)
3.8869 (2014 est.)
3.5779 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

note: data for West Bank and Gaza Strip 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 167; consumption 121; exports 147; imports 36; transmission/distribution losses 118

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

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 145

Refined petroleum products - exports

19 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 123

Refined petroleum products - imports

22,740 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 113

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 146

Energy consumption per capita

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

comparison ranking: 144

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 485,829 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2021 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 93

Telephones - mobile cellular

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

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 78 (2021 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 131

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: most telecommunications companies in the West Bank and Gaza import directly from international vendors; the major challenge they face are Israeli restrictions on telecommunication imports that are listed as “Dual Use” products; during a visit to the West Bank in July 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that Israeli and Palestinian teams will work together immediately to roll out an advanced infrastructure for 4G by the end of 2023; currently, only 2G service is available in Gaza (2022)

domestic: fixed-line 9 per 100 and mobile-cellular subscriptions 78 per 100 (includes Gaza Strip) (2021)

international: country code 970 or 972; 1 international switch in Ramallah

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

Internet country code

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

Internet users

total: 3,938,199 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 80% (2021 est.)

note: includes the Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total 110

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 373,050 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2020 est.)

note: includes the Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total 102

Transportation

Airports

2 (2021)

comparison ranking: total 198

Airports - with paved runways

2

note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)

Heliports

1 (2021)

Roadways

total: 4,686 km (2010)

paved: 4,686 km (2010)

note: includes Gaza Strip

comparison ranking: total 149

Military and Security

Military and security forces

per the Oslo Accords, the PA is not permitted a conventional military but maintains security and police forces; PA security personnel have operated almost exclusively in the West Bank since HAMAS seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007; PA forces include National Security Forces, Presidential Guard, Civil Police, Civil Defense, Preventive Security Organization, the General Intelligence Organization, and the Military Intelligence Organization (2023)

note: the National Security Forces conduct gendarmerie-style security operations in circumstances that exceed the capabilities of the Civil Police; it is the largest branch of the PA security services and acts as the Palestinian army; the Presidential Guard protects facilities and provides dignitary protection; the Preventive Security Organization is responsible for internal intelligence gathering and investigations related to internal security cases, including political dissent

Military and security service personnel strengths

the PA Security Forces have approximately 28,000 active personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the security services are armed mostly with small arms and light weapons; in recent years, they have received small amounts of equipment from Jordan, Russia, and the US (2023)

Military - note

the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are responsible for the West Bank, but PA security forces were granted security control of 17.5% (called Area A) under the 1993 Oslo accords; the PA has administrative control over Area B (about 22% of the West Bank), but security control is shared with Israeli authorities; Israel maintains all administrative and security control of Area C, which comprises about 61% of the West Bank (2023)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade; HAMAS; Kahane Chai; Palestine Islamic Jihad; Palestine Liberation Front; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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

West Bank-Israel: West Bank is Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; in 2002, Israel began construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; as of mid-2020, plans were to continue barrier construction

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 901,000 (Palestinian refugees) (2022)

IDPs: 12,000 (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) (2022); note - data represent Gaza Strip and West Bank