West Bank( Middle East )

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From the early 16th century through 1917, the area now known as the West Bank fell under Ottoman rule. Following World War I, the Allied powers (France, UK, Russia) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. After World War II, the UN passed a resolution to establish two states within the Mandate, and designated a territory including what is now known as the West Bank as part of the proposed Arab state. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the area was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan). Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950. In June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem and the former Israeli-Jordanian border zone, the West Bank has remained under Israeli military control. Under a series of agreements signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid- 2000. In early 2003, the "Quartet" of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, presented a roadmap to a final peace settlement by 2005, calling for two states - Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political party) as the PLO Executive Committee Chairman and PA president, Israel and the PA agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and redeployed its military from several West Bank settlements but continues to control maritime, airspace, and other access. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won the Palestinian Legislative Council election and took control of the PA government. Attempts to form a unity government failed, and violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS's violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and HAMAS in early 2011 agreed to reunify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but the factions have struggled to implement details on governance and security. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA governing the West Bank. In late 2010, direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed. In November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian status at the UN to that of an observer "state." The Israeli government and ABBAS returned to formal peace negotiations in July 2013.
Middle East, west of Jordan, east of Israel
Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 35 15 E
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
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: 7.39%
permanent crops: 10.96%
other: 81.64% (2011)
Irrigated land:
240 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic or industrial or agricultural):
Natural hazards:
Environment current issues:
adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment
Environment international agreements:
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 and Society
noun: NA
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups:
Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
Muslim 80.0 - 85.0% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 12.0 - 14.0%, Christian 1.0 - 2.5% (mainly Greek Orthodox), other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1.0%
note: the proportion of Christians continues to fall mainly as a result of the growth of the Muslim population but also because of the migration and a declining birth rate of the Christian population (2012 est.)
note: approximately 341,400 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2012); approximately 196,400 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2011) (July 2014 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 33.7% (male 472,480/female 448,078)
15-24 years: 21.7% (male 303,578/female 289,119)
25-54 years: 36.4% (male 511,443/female 483,276)
55-64 years: 4.4% (male 59,762/female 59,372)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 43,629/female 60,315) (2014 est.)
Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 74.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 68.8 %
elderly dependency ratio: 5.3 %
potential support ratio: 19
note: data represents the Palestinian Territories (2014 est.)
Median age:
total: 22.4 years
male: 22.2 years
female: 22.5 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.99% (2014 est.)
Birth rate:
23.41 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Death rate:
3.51 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
urban population: 74.3% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Major urban areas population:
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 13.49 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
64 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.69 years
male: 73.58 years
female: 77.92 years (2014 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.83 children born/woman (2014 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate:
Health expenditures:
Physicians density:
Hospital bed density:
Drinking water source:
improved: urban: 81.6% of population
rural: 82.3% of population
total: 81.8% of population
unimproved: urban: 18.4% of population
rural: 17.7% of population
total: 18.2% of population
note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access:
improved: urban: 94.8% of population
rural: 92.8% of population
total: 94.3% of population
unimproved: urban: 5.2% of population
rural: 7.2% of population
total: 5.7% of population
note: includes Gaza and the West Bank (2012 est.)
HIV or AIDS adult prevalence rate:
HIV or AIDS people living with HIV or AIDS:
HIV or AIDS deaths:
Obesity adult prevalence rate:
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
2.2% (2007)
Education expenditures:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.3%
male: 97.9%
female: 92.6%
notes: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2011 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
Child labor children ages 5-14:
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 38.8%
male: 34.5%
female: 62.2%
note: includes Gaza (2012)
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: West Bank
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
National holiday:
Legal system:
International law organization participation:
Executive branch:
Legislative branch:
Judicial branch:
Political parties and leaders:
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Flag description:
National symbol(s):
National anthem:
Economy overview:
The West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories - has sustained a moderate rate of economic growth since 2008. Inflows of donor aid and government spending have driven most of the gains, however. Private sector development has been weak. After a multiyear downturn following the start of the second intifada in 2000, overall standard-of-living measures have recovered and now exceed levels seen in the late 1990s. Despite the Palestinian Authority's (PA) successful implementation of economic and security reforms and the easing of some movement and access restrictions by the Israeli Government, Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce, eroding the productive capacity of the West Bank economy. The biggest impediments to economic improvements in the West Bank remain Palestinians' inability to access land and resources in Israeli-controlled areas, import and export restrictions, and a high-cost capital structure. The PA for the foreseeable future will continue to rely heavily on donor aid for its budgetary needs, and West Bank economic activity will depend largely on the PA's ability to attract such aid.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$8.022 billion (2011 est.)
$7.589 billion (2010 est.)
$7.106 billion (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars; includes Gaza Strip
GDP (official exchange rate):
$6.641 billion
note: includes Gaza Strip (2008 est.)
GDP real growth rate:
5.7% (2011 est.)
6.8% (2010 est.)
7% (2009 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip
GDP per capita (PPP):
$2,900 (2008 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip
Gross national saving:
GDP composition, by end use:
household consumption: 99.5%
government consumption: 29.5%
investment in fixed capital: 18%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 14.9%
imports of goods and services: -62%
(2013 est.)
GDP composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 4.2%
industry: 17.9%
services: 77.9%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2012 est.)
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:
3% (2013 est.)
Labor force:
1.025 million (2013 est.)
Labor force by occupation:
agriculture: 16.1%
industry: 28.4%
services: 55.5%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2010 est.)
Unemployment rate:
22.5% (2013 est.)
23% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line:
18.3% (2010 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 28.2% (2009 est.)
Distribution of family income Gini index:
revenues: $2.1 billion
expenditures: $3.2 billion
note: includes Palestinian Authority expenditures in the Gaza Strip (2011 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
31.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
Budget surplus or deficit:
Public debt:
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2013 est.)
2.8% (2012 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip
Central bank discount rate:
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
6.8% (31 December 2013 est.)
6.97% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$232.2 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$180.2 million (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money:
$9.301 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$8.143 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$1.248 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.042 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$2.634 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$2.532 billion (31 December 2011)
$2.45 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Current account balance:
-$2.1 billion (2011 est.)
-$690.7 million (2010 est.)
$666.1 million (2010 est.)
$846.1 million (2011 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip
Exports commodities:
stone, olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
Exports partners:
$5.474 billion (2011 est.)
$4.319 billion (2010 est.)
note: data include the Gaza Strip
Imports commodities:
food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals
Imports partners:
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Debt external:
$NA (2010 est.)
$1.3 billion (2007 est.)
note: data include the Gaza Strip
Stock of direct foreign investment at home:
Stock of direct foreign investment abroad:
Exchange rates:
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.621 (2013 est.)
3.856 (2012 est.)
3.73 (2010)
3.932 (2009)
3.588 (2008)
Electricity production:
445 million kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity consumption:
4.573 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity exports:
0 kWh (2012)
Electricity imports:
550 million kWh (2011 est.)
Electricity installed generating capacity:
140,000 kW
note: includes Gaza Strip (2010 est.)
Electricity from fossil fuels:
100% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Electricity from nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Electricity from hydroelectric plants:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Electricity from other renewable sources:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Crude oil production:
0 bbl/day (2012 est.)
Crude oil exports:
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Crude oil imports:
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Crude oil proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Refined petroleum products production:
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Refined petroleum products consumption:
29,310 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Refined petroleum products exports:
515 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Refined petroleum products imports:
16,330 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Natural gas production:
0 cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas consumption:
0 cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas exports:
0 cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas imports:
0 cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
2.502 million Mt (2011 est.)
Telephones mobile cellular:
3.041 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2012)
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)
Telephones main lines in use:
406,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2012)
Broadcast media:
the Palestinian Authority operates 1 TV and 1 radio station; about 30 independent TV and 25 radio stations; both Jordanian TV and satellite TV are accessible (2008)
Internet country code:
.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip
Internet users:
1.379 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2009)
Internet hosts:
2 (2013)
Airports with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2013)
Airports with unpaved runways:
1 (2013)
total: 4,686 km
paved: 4,686 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2010)
Merchant marine:
Ports and terminals:
Military branches:
Military service age and obligation:
Manpower available for military service:
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 579,248
females age 16-49: 547,782 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 30,925
female: 29,440 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
Transnational Issues
Disputes international:
the current status of the West Bank is 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 Gaza and 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): 754,411 (Palestinian refugees (UNRWA)) (2014)
IDPs: at least 146,000 (persons displaced within both the Gaza strip and the West Bank, some fled as long ago as 1967 but confirmed cumulative figures do not go back beyond 2006) (2013)
Trafficking in persons: