West Bank

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Location of West Bank
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Map of West Bank
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Introduction

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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.
 
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Geography

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Middle East, west of Jordan, east of Israel
 
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32 00 N, 35 15 E
 
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total: 5,860 sq km
country comparison to the world: 172
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
 
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slightly smaller than Delaware
 
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total: 404 km
border countries: Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km
 
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0 km (landlocked)
 
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none (landlocked)
 
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temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
 
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mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east
 
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lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m
 
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arable land
 
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arable land: 16.9%
permanent crops: 18.97%
other: 64.13% (2001)
 
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180 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)
 
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droughts
 
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adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment
 
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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.)
 
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People and Society

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noun: NA
adjective: NA
 
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Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
 
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Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
 
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Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%
 
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2,568,555 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
note: approximately 296,700 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2009 est.); approximately 192,800 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2008 est.) (July 2011 est.)
 
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0-14 years: 35.8% (male 471,908/female 447,816)
15-64 years: 60.5% (male 796,421/female 757,227)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 39,546/female 55,637) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 21.3 years
male: 21.1 years
female: 21.5 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.097% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
 
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24.56 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
 
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3.58 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211
 
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
 
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urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
 
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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 (2011 est.)
 
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total: 14.92 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 120
male: 16.73 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 75.01 years
country comparison to the world: 92
male: 72.97 years
female: 77.17 years (2011 est.)
 
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3.05 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 63
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.4%
male: 96.7%
female: 88% (2004 est.)
 
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total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
 
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total: 46.9%
country comparison to the world: 5
male: 38.8%
female: 47.3% (2008)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: West Bank
 
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Economy

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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.
 
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$12.79 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
$11.95 billion (2008)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$6.641 billion (2008 est.)
 
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7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
2.3% (2008 est.)
 
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$2,900 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 13.6%
services: 82.6% (includes Gaza Strip) (2010 est.)
 
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694,000 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 149
 
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agriculture: 12%
industry: 23%
services: 65% (June 2008)
 
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16.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
19% (2009 est.)
 
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46% (2007 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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18.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
 
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revenues: $1.87 billion
expenditures: $3.1 billion
note: Palestinian Authority, includes Gaza Strip (2010)
 
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28.2% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 104
 
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-18.5% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 208
 
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6% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
2.5% (2009 est.)
note: includes Gaza Strip
 
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7.3% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
7.3% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$232.6 million (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 174
$190 million (31 December 2007)
 
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$6.674 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
$6.238 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.353 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
$1.475 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.45 billion (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 92
$2.375 billion (31 December 2009)
$2.123 billion (31 December 2008)
 
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olives, citrus fruit, vegetables; beef, dairy products
 
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small-scale manufacturing, quarrying, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs
 
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NA%
 
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400 million kWh
country comparison to the world: 164
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 (2008 est.)
 
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3.572 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
 
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0 kWh (2009)
 
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3.2 billion kWh (2008 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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24,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
 
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22,110 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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$529 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 166
$339 million (2006)
note: includes Gaza Strip
 
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stone, olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
 
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$3.772 billion (2008)
country comparison to the world: 129
$2.84 billion (2006)
 
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food, consumer goods, construction materials, petroleum, chemicals
 
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$1.04 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
$1.3 billion (2007 est.)
 
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new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.739 (2010)
3.932 (2009)
3.56 (2008)
4.14 (2007)
4.4565 (2006)
 
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Communications

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337,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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2.405 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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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)
 
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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)
 
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.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip
 
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1.379 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2009)
country comparison to the world: 88
 
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Transportation

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2 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 206
 
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total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 5,147 km
country comparison to the world: 153
paved: 5,147 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2006)
 
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Military

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males age 16-49: 579,248
females age 16-49: 547,782 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 30,925
female: 29,440 (2010 est.)
 
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NA
 
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Transnational Issues

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