- Art Gallery -



West Bank (Middle East)

Introduction ::West Bank


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 the 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 many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000. 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. 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 still controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). 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. Violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007 resulted in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. In February 2007, ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL 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 2007, 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 despite multiple rounds of Egyptian-brokered reconciliation negotiations, the two groups have failed to bridge their differences. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and ABBAS and the Fatah-dominated PA governing the West Bank. FAYYAD and his PA government continue to implement a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS has said he will not resume negotiations with current Prime Minister NETANYAHU until Israel halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Geography ::West Bank


Middle East, west of Jordan

Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 35 15 E

Map references:

Middle East


total: 5,860 sq km country comparison to the world: 171 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

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Delaware

Land boundaries:

total: 404 km

border countries: Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


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


mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m

highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m

Natural resources:

arable land

Land use:

arable land: 16.9%

permanent crops: 18.97%

other: 64.13% (2001)

Irrigated land:

150 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)

Natural hazards:


Environment - current issues:

adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment

Geography - note:

landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are about 355 Israeli civilian sites including about 145 small outpost communities in the West Bank and 32 sites in East Jerusalem (2010 est.)

People ::West Bank


2,514,845 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 140 note: approximately 296,700 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2009 est.); approximately 192,800 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2008 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.3% (male 470,735/female 446,878)

15-64 years: 59.1% (male 744,822/female 708,695)

65 years and over: 3.7% (male 37,471/female 52,666) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 20.9 years

male: 20.7 years

female: 21.1 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.13% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 44

Birth rate:

24.91 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 65

Death rate:

3.62 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 213

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 100


urban population: 72% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 3.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female

total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 15.41 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 122 male: 17.29 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.78 years country comparison to the world: 91 male: 72.76 years

female: 76.92 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.12 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 62

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: NA

adjective: NA

Ethnic groups:

Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%


Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%


Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and 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.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2006)

Education expenditures:

Government ::West Bank

Country name:

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: West Bank

Economy ::West Bank

Economy - overview:

The West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories - experienced a high single-digit economic growth rate in 2010 as a result of inflows of donor aid, the Palestinian Authority's (PA) implementation of economic and security reforms, and the easing of some movement and access restrictions by the Israeli Government. Nevertheless, overall standard-of-living measures remain near levels seen prior to the start of the second intifada in 2000. The almost decade-long downturn largely has been a result of Israeli closure policies - a steady increase in movement and access restrictions across the West Bank in response to Israeli security concerns which have disrupted labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce, both external and internal. Since 2008, the PA under President Mahmoud ABBAS and Prime Minister Salam FAYYAD has implemented a largely successful campaign of institutional reforms that has contributed to increased security and economic performance, supported by more than $3 billion in direct foreign donor assistance to the PA's budget since 2007. An easing of some Israeli restrictions on West Bank movement and access since 2008 also has contributed to an uptick in retail activity in larger cities. The biggest impediments to economic improvements in the West Bank remain Palestinians' lack of access to land and resources in Israeli-controlled areas, import and export restrictions, and a high-cost capital structure. Absent robust private sector growth, the PA will continue to rely heavily on donor aid for its budgetary needs.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$12.79 billion (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 141 $11.95 billion (2008)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$6.641 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

7% (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 22 2.3% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$2,900 (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 169 note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 5%

industry: 14%

services: 81% (includes Gaza Strip) (2008 est.)

Labor force:

694,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 149

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 12%

industry: 23%

services: 65% (June 2008)

Unemployment rate:

16.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 156 19% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

46% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.5% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 103 9.9% (2009 est.)

note: includes Gaza Strip

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

5.78% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 125 7.19% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$NA (31 December 2008)

$1.574 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of broad money:

$5.567 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 116 $5.251 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$1.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 128 $1.367 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$NA (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 92 $2.123 billion (31 December 2008)

$2.475 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

olives, citrus fruit, vegetables; beef, dairy products


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

Industrial production growth rate:
NA% (2005)

Electricity - production:

500 million kWh country comparison to the world: 160 note: most imported electricity is from Israel; Jerusalem District Electric Company buys and distributes electricity to Palestinians in east Jerusalem and its concession in the West Bank; the Israel Electric Company directly supplies electricity to most Jewish residents and military facilities (2007 est.)

Electricity - consumption:

3.265 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 122

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008)

Electricity - imports:

2.8 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 122

Oil - consumption:

24,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 118

Oil - exports:

511 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 124

Oil - imports:

22,150 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 108

Oil - proved reserves:

NA bbl (1 January 2009 est.)

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 112

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 162

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 99

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 115

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 120


$529 million (2008) country comparison to the world: 165 $339 million (2006)

note: includes Gaza Strip

Exports - commodities:

stone, olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone


$3.772 billion (2008) country comparison to the world: 129 $2.84 billion (2006)

Imports - commodities:

food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals

Debt - external:

$1.04 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 149 $1.3 billion (2007 est.)

Exchange rates:

new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.7461 (2010), 3.9326 (2009), 3.56 (2008), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006)

Communications ::West Bank

Telephones - main lines in use:

360,400 (includes Gaza Strip) (2010) country comparison to the world: 109

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2.405 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2010) country comparison to the world: 125

Telephone system:

general assessment: continuing political and economic instability has impeded significant liberalization of the telecommunications industry

domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services; PALTEL plans to establish a fiber-optic connection to Jordan to route domestic mobile calls; the Palestinian JAWWAL company and WATANIYA PALESTINE provide cellular services

international: country code - 970; 1 international switch in Ramallah (2009) (2009)

Broadcast media:

the Palestinian Authority operates 1 television and 1 radio station; about 30 independent TV and 25 radio stations operating; Jordanian TV is available; satellite TV is accessible (2008)

Internet country code:

.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip

Internet users:

1.379 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2009) country comparison to the world: 88

Transportation ::West Bank


2 (2010) country comparison to the world: 199

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2010)


total: 5,147 km country comparison to the world: 153 paved: 5,147 km

note: includes Gaza Strip (2006)

Military ::West Bank

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 562,570

females age 16-49: 531,532 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 30,547

female: 29,062 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

Transnational Issues ::West Bank

Disputes - international:

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 continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew from four settlements in the northern West Bank in August 2005; since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem, monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 722,000 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2007)


Hellenica World - Scientific Library