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. During 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, roughly 60% of the West Bank remains under Israeli military control. Israel transferred security and civilian responsibility for a number of Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under a series of agreements signed between 1993 and 1999, the so-called “Oslo Accords.” 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 Yassir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political faction) as PA president, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers, dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip, and redeployed its military from several West Bank settlements, but it 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 have made several attempts at reconciliation, but the factions have been unable to implement details on governance and security. 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, west of Jordan, east of Israel

Geographic coordinates

32 00 N, 35 15 E

Map references

Middle East


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: 478 km
border countries (2): Israel 330 km, Jordan 148 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 in west, flat plains descending to Jordan River Valley to the east


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m

Natural resources

arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 43.3%
arable land 7.4%; permanent crops 11%; permanent pasture 24.9%
forest: 1.5%
other: 55.2%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

240 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment

Geography - note

landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are about 381 Israeli civilian sites, including about 212 settlements and 134 small outpost communities in the West Bank and 35 sites in East Jerusalem (2014 est.)

People and Society

Population growth rate

1.86% (2016 est.)


2,697,687 (represents Palestinian population only) (July 2016 est.)
note: approximately 385,900 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank; approximately 201,200 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2014)


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 80-85% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 12-14%, Christian 1-2.5% (mainly Greek Orthodox), other, unaffiliated, unspecified <1%
note: the proportion of Christians continues to fall mainly as a result of the growth of the Muslim population but also because of migration and the declining birth rate of the Christian population (2012 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 36.91% (male 511,026/female 484,808)
15-24 years: 21.56% (male 297,058/female 284,677)
25-54 years: 33.71% (male 462,201/female 447,200)
55-64 years: 4.35% (male 60,360/female 56,936)
65 years and over: 3.46% (male 41,587/female 51,834) (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: 20.8 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 21 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

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

Death rate

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

Net migration rate

-4.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

Palestinian settlements are primarily located in the central to western half of the territory; Jewish colonies are found in pockets throughout, particularly in the northeast, north-central, and around Jerusalem


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: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 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: 14.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 16.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75 years
male: 73 years
female: 77.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.33 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

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

Physicians density

1.3 physicians/1,000 population (2013)

Hospital bed density

1.2 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 Gaza Strip (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 94.5%
notes: estimates are for Gaza and 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)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 41%
male: 37%
female: 64.7%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: West Bank
etymology: name refers to the location of the region - occupied and administered by Jordan after 1948 - that fell 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 government


Economy - overview

Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2015 exacerbated challenges to economic growth in the West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian Territories. Increased security restrictions and political instability slowed economic activity, and I

Longstanding Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows and the territory’s industrial capacity, limit imports and exports, and constrain private sector development. The PA for the foreseeable future will continue to rely heavily o

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$21.22 billion (2014 est.)
$20.15 billion (2013 est.)
$19.95 billion (2012 est.)
note: data are in 2014 US dollars; includes Gaza Strip

GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.828 billion (2014 est.)
note: excludes Gaza Strip

GDP - real growth rate

5.3% (2014 est.)
1% (` est.)
6% (2012 est.)
note: excludes Gaza Strip

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$4,300 (2014 est.)
$4,400 (2013 est.)
$4,600 (2012 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip

Gross national saving

7.8% of GDP (2014 est.)
9.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
5% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 85.7%
government consumption: 21.9%
investment in fixed capital: 26%
investment in inventories: 2.3%
exports of goods and services: 24.5%
imports of goods and services: -60.4%
note: excludes Gaza Strip (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 25.2%
services: 71.4%
note: excludes Gaza Strip (2014 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

note: includes Gaza Strip (2015 est.)

Labor force

note: excludes Gaza Strip (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 11.5%
industry: 34.4%
services: 54.1%
note: excludes Gaza Strip (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate

17.7% (2014 est.)
18.6% (2013 est.)
note: excludes Gaza Strip

Population below poverty line

18% (2011 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 28.2%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2009 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

34.5 (2009 est.)
38.7 (2007 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip


revenues: $2.75 billion
expenditures: $4.077 billion
note: includes Palestinian Authority expenditures in the Gaza Strip (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

28% of GDP (2014 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-13.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Public debt

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

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.2% (2014 est.)
3.1% (2013 est.)
note: excludes Gaza Strip

Commercial bank prime lending rate

7% (31 December 2016 est.)
6.8% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$317.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$265.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$2.424 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.273 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

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

Market value of publicly traded shares

$3.339 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$3.187 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$3.247 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$2.149 billion (2014 est.)
-$2.383 billion (2013 est.)


$937.4 million (2014 est.)
$1.692 billion (2013 est.)
note: excludes Gaza Strip

Exports - commodities

stone, olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone


$5.683 billion (2014 est.)
$6.261 billion (2013 est.)
note: data include the Gaza Strip

Imports - commodities

food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals

Debt - external

$1.662 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.467 billion (31 March 2015 est.)
note: data include the Gaza Strip

Exchange rates

new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.89 (2015 est.)
3.89 (2014 est.)
3.578 (2014 est.)
3.578 (2013 est.)
3.86 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

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

Electricity - production

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

5.2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013)

Electricity - imports

4.9 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

100,000 kW
note: includes Gaza Strip (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2009 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

16,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

18,690 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

3 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 406,500 (includes Gaza Strip)
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 3.531 million (includes Gaza Strip)
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 76 (includes Gaza Strip) (July 2015 est.)

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 ce
international: country code - 970; 1 international switch in Ramallah (2010)

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 (2013)

Internet country code

.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip

Internet users

total: 2.673 million (includes Gaza Strip)
percent of population: 57.4% (includes Gaza Strip) (July 2015 est.)



2 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2013)


1 (2013)


total: 4,686 km
paved: 4,686 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2010)


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): 774,167 (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)