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Map of West Bank
Introduction West Bank
The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (the DOP), signed in Washington in September 1993, provided for a transitional period of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. A transfer of authority to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the Gaza Strip and Jericho took place pursuant to the Israel-PLO 4 May 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and, in additional areas of the West Bank, pursuant to the Israel-PLO 28 September 1995 Interim Agreement, the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron, the Israel-PLO 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 4 September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement. Direct negotiations to determine the permanent status of Gaza and the West Bank began in September 1999 after a three-year hiatus, but were derailed by a second intifadah that broke out a year later. 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 has been postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides have 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 withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and four 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 has refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it does not recognize Israel, will not renounce violence, and refuses to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. Since March 2006, President Abbas has had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift the economic siege on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene in late 2006 as a result of Israel's detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members.
Geography West Bank
Middle East, west of Jordan
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: 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: 16.9%
permanent crops: 18.97%
other: 64.13% (2001)
Irrigated land:
150 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment
Geography - note:
landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are 242 West Bank settlements and 29 East Jerusalem settlements in addition to at least 20 occupied outposts (August 2005 est.)
People West Bank
note: in addition, there are about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.9% (male 541,110/female 515,202)
15-64 years: 53.7% (male 676,427/female 644,347)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 35,440/female 47,966) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.3 years
male: 18.2 years
female: 18.5 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
3.06% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
31.67 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
3.92 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
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: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 19.15 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.27 years
male: 71.5 years
female: 75.15 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.28 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: NA
adjective: NA
Ethnic groups:
Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%
Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 96.3%
female: 87.4% (2003 est.)
Government West Bank
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: West Bank
Economy West Bank
Economy - overview:
The West Bank - the larger of the two areas under the Palestinian Authority (PA) - has experienced a general decline in economic conditions since the second intifadah began in September 2000. The downturn has been largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted labor and trading relationships. In 2001, and even more severely in 2002, Israeli military measures in PA areas resulted in the destruction of capital, the disruption of administrative structures, and widespread business closures. International aid of at least $1.14 billion to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2004 prevented the complete collapse of the economy and allowed some reforms in the government's financial operations. In 2005, high unemployment and limited trade opportunities - due to continued closures both within the West Bank and externally - stymied growth. Israel's and the international community's financial embargo of the PA since HAMAS took office in March 2006 has interrupted the provision of PA social services and the payment of PA salaries.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$5.327 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.45 billion (2003)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.9% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,500 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 18.2%
services: 73.9%
note: includes Gaza Strip (2005 est.)
Labor force:
568,000 (2005)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 16%
industry: 29%
services: 55% (2005)
Unemployment rate:
20.3% (includes Gaza Strip) (2005)
Population below poverty line:
45.7% including Gaza Strip (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.9% (includes Gaza Strip) (2005)
revenues: $1.23 billion
expenditures: $1.64 billion; including capital expenditures of $44 million ; note - these budget data include Gaza Strip (2005)
Agriculture - products:
olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
generally small family businesses that produce cement, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis have established some small-scale, modern industries in the settlements and industrial centers
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
NA kWh; note - most electricity imported from Israel; East Jerusalem 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; some Palestinian municipalities, such as Nablus and Janin, generate their own electricity from small power plants
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
NA kWh
Electricity - imports:
NA kWh
$313 million f.o.b.; note - includes Gaza Strip (2004)
Exports - commodities:
olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
Exports - partners:
Israel, Jordan, Gaza Strip (2004)
$2.37 billion c.i.f.; note - includes Gaza Strip (2004)
Imports - commodities:
food, consumer goods, construction materials
Imports - partners:
Israel, Jordan, Gaza Strip (2004)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$1.14 billion; note - includes Gaza Strip (2004)
Currency (code):
new Israeli shekel (ILS); Jordanian dinar (JOD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004), 4.5541 (2003), 4.7378 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications West Bank
Telephones - main lines in use:
357,300 (includes Gaza Strip) (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1.095 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services in the Gaza Strip; the Palestinian JAWAL company provides cellular services
international: country code - 970
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 20, shortwave 0 (2005)
NA; note - most Palestinian households have radios (1999)
Television broadcast stations:
8 (2005)
NA; note - many Palestinian households have televisions (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
8 (1999)
Internet users:
243,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2005)
Transportation West Bank
3 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
total: 4,996 km
paved: 4,996 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2004)
Military West Bank
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues West Bank
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 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
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 699,817 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2005)

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007