Middle East :: Gaza Strip
page last updated on October 27, 2009
Location of Gaza Strip
Map of Gaza Strip
Introduction ::Gaza Strip
The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000, as Israeli forces reoccupied most Palestinian-controlled areas. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. The proposed date for a permanent status agreement was postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides had not followed through on their commitments. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. A November 2005 PA-Israeli agreement authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The international community refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it did not recognize Israel, would not renounce violence, and refused to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene throughout most of 2006 as a result of Israel's detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members. Violent clashes took place between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007, resulting in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL in February 2007 signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of Presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal and has called for resuming talks with Fatah, but ABBAS has ruled out negotiations until HAMAS agrees to a return of PA control over the Gaza Strip and recognizes the FAYYAD-led government. FAYYAD and his PA government initiated a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS participated in talks with Israel's Prime Minister OLMERT and secured the release of some Palestinian prisoners and previously withheld customs revenue. During a November 2007 international meeting in Annapolis Maryland, ABBAS and OLMERT agreed to resume peace negotiations with the goal of reaching a final peace settlement. Late November 2007 through June 2008 witnessed a substantial increase in Israeli-Palestinian violence. An Egyptian-brokered truce in June 2008 between Israel and HAMAS brought about a five-month pause in hostilities, but spiraling end-of-year violence culminated with massive Israeli air assaults on HAMAS installations in late December followed by Israeli ground attacks in early January 2009. Israel in mid January unilaterally stopped the attacks and HAMAS responded by suspending rocket and mortar fire. The fighting resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians and left tens of thousands of people homeless. International donors pledged $4.5 billion in aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip, but by mid-May 2009 only a small fraction of the aid had been delivered.
Geography ::Gaza Strip
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
31 25 N, 34 20 E
total: 360 sq km
country comparison to the world: 205
land: 360 sq km
water: 0 sq km
slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
total: 62 km
border countries: Egypt 11 km, Israel 51 km
40 km
Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation
temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers
flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda) 105 m
arable land, natural gas
arable land: 29%
permanent crops: 21%
other: 50% (2002)
155 sq km; (note - includes West Bank) (2003)
desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources
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
People ::Gaza Strip
1,551,859 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
0-14 years: 44.4% (male 353,489/female 334,770)
15-64 years: 53% (male 420,618/female 402,297)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 16,483/female 24,202) (2009 est.)
total: 17.4 years
male: 17.2 years
female: 17.5 years (2009 est.)
3.349% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
36.93 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
3.44 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 215
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 18.35 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 114
male: 19.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.09 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 73.42 years
country comparison to the world: 107
male: 71.82 years
female: 75.12 years (2009 est.)
5.03 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
noun: NA
adjective: NA
Palestinian Arab
Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 99.3%, Christian 0.7%
Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.4%
male: 96.7%
female: 88% (2004 est.)
total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Government ::Gaza Strip
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Gaza Strip
local long form: none
local short form: Qita Ghazzah
Economy ::Gaza Strip
High population density, limited land access, and strict internal and external security controls have kept economic conditions in the Gaza Strip - the smaller of the two areas under the Palestinian Authority (PA) - even more degraded than in the West Bank. The beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 sparked an economic downturn, largely the result of Israeli closure policies; these policies, which were imposed to address security concerns in Israel, disrupted labor and trade access to and from the Gaza Strip. In 2001, and even more severely in 2003, Israeli military measures in PA areas resulted in the destruction of capital, the disruption of administrative structures, and widespread business closures. The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005 offered some medium-term opportunities for economic growth, but Israeli-imposed crossings closures, which became more restrictive after HAMAS violently took over the territory in June 2007, have resulted in widespread private sector layoffs and shortages of most goods. The status of the crossings, which are closed to all but the most basic goods, has not changed following Israel's military offensive into the Gaza Strip in early 2009.
$11.95 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
$5.034 billion (2006 est.)
$5.327 billion (2005 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$6.641 billion (2008 est.) (2008 est.)
0.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
-8% (2006 est.)
4.9% (2005 est.)
$2,900 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
$1,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 8%
industry: 13%
services: 79% (includes West Bank) (2007 est.)
267,000 (2006)
country comparison to the world: 161
agriculture: 12%
industry: 5%
services: 83% (June 2008)
41.3% (June 2008)
country comparison to the world: 189
34.8% (2006)
80% (2007 est.)
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $1.149 billion
expenditures: $2.31 billion
note: includes West Bank (2006)
11.5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 165
3.6% (2006)
note: includes West Bank
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 110
7.73% (31 December 2006)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 100
$1.574 billion (31 December 2007)
$1.381 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 117
$1.206 billion (31 December 2007)
$359.7 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 150
$368.2 million (31 December 2007)
olives, citrus fruit, vegetables, flowers, beef, dairy products
textiles, food processing
2.4% (includes West Bank) (2005)
country comparison to the world: 95
140,000 kWh (2005)
country comparison to the world: 212
230,000 kWh (2005)
country comparison to the world: 213
0 kWh (2008 est.)
90,000 kWh; note - from Israeli Electric Company (2005)
bbl NA
$339 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 171
citrus, flowers, textiles
$2.84 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 142
$2.44 billion (2005)
food, consumer goods, construction materials
$1.3 billion (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.56 (2008 est.), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004)
Communications ::Gaza Strip
348,000 (includes West Bank) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 110
1.153 million (includes West Bank) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 139
general assessment: NA
domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services; the Palestinian JAWAL company provides cellular services
international: country code - 970 (2004)
AM 0, FM 10, shortwave 0 (2008)
1 (2008)
.ps; note - same as West Bank
356,000 (includes West Bank) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 117
Transportation ::Gaza Strip
1 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 230
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2009)
1 (2009)
note: see entry for West Bank
Military ::Gaza Strip
Palestinian Authority security forces have operated only in the West Bank, not in the Gaza Strip, since Hamas seized power in June 2007; law and order and other security functions are performed by Hamas security organizations (2008)
males age 16-49: 337,670 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 312,003
females age 16-49: 297,380 (2009 est.)
male: 19,147
female: 18,200 (2009 est.)
Transnational Issues ::Gaza Strip
West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel removed settlers and military personnel from the Gaza Strip in August 2005
refugees (country of origin): 1.017 million (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2007)