Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., Gaza has been dominated by many different peoples and empires throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. Gaza 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; it was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Under a series of agreements known as the Oslo accords signed between 1994 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. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled in 2001, after which the area witnessed a violent intifada or uprising.

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. Following PA President Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political faction) as the PA president in 2005, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to move the peace process forward. 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 and HAMAS failed and violent clashes between their respective supporters ensued, culminating in 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 implement them. In April 2014, the two factions signed an agreement and two months later President ABBAS formed an interim government of independent technocrats, none of whom were affiliated with HAMAS. The factions have since met periodically for further negotiations, but they continue to disagree over how to implement the deal and HAMAS remains in de facto control of the Gaza Strip.

In July 2014, HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant groups engaged in a 51-day conflict with Israel — the third conflict since HAMAS’s takeover in 2007 — culminating in late August with an open-ended truce that continues to hold despite the absence of a negotiated cease-fire and occasional violations by both sides. Reconstruction efforts since the end of the conflict have been hampered by Israeli restrictions on goods entering the Gaza Strip and inadequate donor aid. The UN in 2015 published a study assessing that the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable by 2020 absent a substantial easing on border restrictions. In an attempt to reenergize peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, France in June 2016 hosted a ministerial meeting that included participants from 29 countries, although not Israel or the Palestinians, to lay the groundwork for an envisioned "multilateral peace conference" later in the year.



Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel

Geographic coordinates

31 25 N, 34 20 E

Map references

Middle East


total: 360 sq km
land: 360 sq km
water: 0 sq km

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


40 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


temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers


flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: 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 West Bank (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne disease; soil degradation; depletion and contamination of underground water resources

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 (2014)

People and Society


1,753,327 (July 2016 est.)


noun: NA
adjective: NA

Ethnic groups

Palestinian Arab


Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood)


Muslim 98.0 - 99.0% (predominantly Sunni), Christian <1.0%, other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1.0%
note: dismantlement of Israeli settlements was completed in September 2005; Gaza has had no Jewish population since then (2012 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 45.4% (male 408,601/female 387,463)
15-24 years: 21.21% (male 187,229/female 184,619)
25-54 years: 27.56% (male 237,162/female 246,021)
55-64 years: 3.32% (male 30,575/female 27,717)
65 years and over: 2.51% (male 22,613/female 21,327) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 76%
youth dependency ratio: 70.8%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.2%
potential support ratio: 19.2%
note: data represent Gaza Strip and the West Bank (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 16.9 years
male: 16.6 years
female: 17.2 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.39% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

32.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

3.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-5.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

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


urban population: 75.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.81% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
note: data represent Gaza Strip and West Bank

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

45 deaths/100,000 live births
note: data represent Gaza Strip and West Bank (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 17.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 18.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 15.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.9 years
male: 72.3 years
female: 75.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.3 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

52.5% (includes Gaza Strip and West Bank) (2010)

Physicians density

2.1 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 50.7% of population
rural: 81.5% of population
total: 58.4% of population
urban: 49.3% of population
rural: 18.5% of population
total: 41.6% of population
note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 93% of population
rural: 90.2% of population
total: 92.3% of population
urban: 7% of population
rural: 9.8% of population
total: 7.7% of population
note: includes Gaza Strip and the West Bank (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Education expenditures

1.3% of GDP
note: includes West Bank (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 94.5%
note: estimates are for Gaza and the West Bank (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 14 years
note: data represent Gaza and West Bank (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2004 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 41%
male: 37%
female: 64.7%
note: includes the West Bank (2013 est.)


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")


GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.938 billion (2014 est.)
note: excludes the West Bank

Economy - overview

Israeli security measures and Israeli-Palestinian violence continue to degrade economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, the smaller of the two areas comprising the Palestinian territories. Israeli-imposed border controls became more restrictive after HAMAS

Egypt’s ongoing crackdown on the Gaza Strip’s extensive tunnel-based smuggling network has exacerbated fuel, construction material, and consumer goods shortages in the territory. The 51-day conflict in July 2014 that HAMAS and other Gaza-based militant gr

GDP (purchasing power parity)

see entry for the West Bank

GDP - real growth rate

-15.2% (2014 est.)
5.6% (`)
7% (2012)
note: excludes the West Bank

GDP - per capita (PPP)

see entry for the the West Bank

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 90%
government consumption: 25.6%
investment in fixed capital: 24.8%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 16.5%
imports of goods and services: -56.8%
note: data exclude the West Bank (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

note: data exclude the West Bank (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

olives, fruit, vegetables, flowers; beef, dairy products


textiles, food processing, furniture

Industrial production growth rate

4.5% see entry for the West Bank

Labor force

1.157 million
note: excludes the West Bank (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 5.2%
industry: 10%
services: 84.8%
note: data exclude the West Bank (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

26.1% (2016 est.)
25.9% (2015 est.)
note: data exclude the West Bank

Population below poverty line

note: data exclude the West Bank (2011 est.)


see entry for the West Bank

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.1% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)
note: 2.9% excludes the West Bank

Commercial bank prime lending rate

see entry for the West Bank

Stock of narrow money

see entry for the West Bank

Stock of broad money

$2.356 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$2.16 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.551 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.418 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Current account balance

-$2.894 billion (2014 est.)
-$1.412 billion (2013 est.)
note: excludes the West Bank


$1.37 billion (2016 est.)

Exports - commodities

strawberries, carnations, vegetables, fish (small and irregular shipments, as permitted to transit the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing)


see entry for the West Bank

Imports - commodities

food, consumer goods, fuel

Debt - external

see entry for the West Bank

Exchange rates

see entry for the West Bank


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 80,930
electrification - total population: 98%
electrification - urban areas: 99%
electrification - rural areas: 93%
note: data for Gaza Strip and West Bank combined (2012)

Electricity - production

51,000 kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption

202,000 kWh (2009)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - imports

193,000 kWh (2011 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2010 es)


Telephones - fixed lines

406,500 (includes the West Bank) (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 3,531,000 (includes the West Bank)
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 76 (includes the West Bank) (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: Gaza continues to repair the damage to its telecommunications infrastructure caused by fighting in 2009
domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed-line services; the Palestinian JAWWAL company provides cellular services
international: country code - 970 (2009)

Broadcast media

1 TV station and about 10 radio stations; satellite TV accessible (2008)

Internet country code

.ps; note - same as the West Bank

Internet users

total: 2.673 million (includes the West Bank)
percent of population: 57.4% (includes the West Bank) (July 2015 est.)



1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)


1 (2013)


note: see entry for the West Bank

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Gaza


Military branches

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, which remains scattered throughout the region since relocating from its Damascus headquarters in early 2012 (2015)

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): 1,276,929 (Palestinian refugees) (2015)
IDPs: 221,000 (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) (2015)