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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Gaza Strip
 
Map of Gaza Strip
 
Background: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 by the end of 2008.
  
Geography
  
Location:Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel
Geographic coordinates:31 25 N, 34 20 E
Map references:Middle East
Area: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: 62 km
border countries: Egypt 11 km, Israel 51 km
Coastline:40 km
Maritime claims:Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation
Climate:temperate, mild winters, dry and warm to hot summers
Terrain:flat to rolling, sand- and dune-covered coastal plain
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Abu 'Awdah (Joz Abu 'Auda) 105 m
Natural resources:arable land, natural gas
Land use:arable land: 29%
permanent crops: 21%
other: 50% (2002)
Irrigated land:150 sq km; note - includes West Bank (2003)
Natural hazards:droughts
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
  
People
  
Population:1,482,405 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 47.6% (male 361,115/female 344,236)
15-64 years: 49.9% (male 377,927/female 361,824)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 15,454/female 21,849) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 16 years
male: 15.9 years
female: 16.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:3.66% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:38.9 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:3.74 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:1.43 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.049 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.045 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.707 male(s)/female
total population: 1.037 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 21.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 72.16 years
male: 70.84 years
female: 73.54 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:5.64 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:NA
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:NA
HIV/AIDS—deaths:NA
Nationality:noun: NA
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups:Palestinian Arab
Religions:Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 99.3%, Christian 0.7%
Languages:Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.4%
male: 96.7%
female: 88% (2004 est.)
  
Government
  
Country name:conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Gaza Strip
local long form: none
local short form: Qita Ghazzah
  
Economy
  
Economy—overview: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 intifadah 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 continued 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$5.034 billion (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$5.328 billion (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:-8% (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$1,100 (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 8%
industry: 13%
services: 79% (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
Labor force:267,000 (2006)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 12%
industry: 18%
services: 70% (2005)
Unemployment rate:34.8% (2006)
Population below poverty line:80% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):3.6% (includes West Bank) (2006)
Budget:revenues: $1.149 billion
expenditures: $2.31 billion
note: includes West Bank (2006)
Agriculture—products:olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
Industries:generally small family businesses that produce textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis had established some small-scale modern industries in an industrial center, but operations ceased prior to Israel's evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements
Industrial production growth rate:2.4% (includes West Bank) (2005)
Electricity—production:140,000 kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:230,000 kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:90,000 kWh; note - from Israeli Electric Company (2005)
Exports:$301 million f.o.b.; (includes West Bank) (2005)
Exports—commodities:citrus, flowers, textiles
Exports—partners:Israel, Egypt, West Bank (2006)
Imports:$2.44 billion c.i.f.; (includes West Bank) (2005)
Imports—commodities:food, consumer goods, construction materials
Imports—partners:Israel, Egypt, West Bank (2006)
Debt—external:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$1.4 billion; (includes West Bank) (2006 est.)
Currency (code):new Israeli shekel (ILS)
Exchange rates:new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004), 4.5541 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
  
Communications
  
Telephones—main lines in use:349,000 (includes West Bank) (2005)
Telephones—mobile cellular:1.095 million (includes West Bank) (2005)
Telephone system: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)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 0, FM 10, shortwave 0 (2008)
Television broadcast stations:1 (2008)
Internet country code:.ps; note - same as West Bank
Internet users:243,000 (includes West Bank) (2005)
  
Transportation
  
Airports:2 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Heliports:1 (2007)
Roadways:note: see entry for West Bank
Ports and terminals:Gaza
  
Military
  
Military branches:in accordance with the peace agreement, the Palestinian Authority is not permitted conventional military forces; there are, however, public security forces (2007)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 260,855 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 221,530 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 15,196 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:NA
  
Transnational Issues
  
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 removed settlers and military personnel from the Gaza Strip in August 2005
Refugees and internally displaced persons:refugees (country of origin): 993,818 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2006)

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