Palestine is a region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, although adjacent territories are sometimes considered a part of Palestine. The region is between Egypt, Arabia and Syria and it is the birthplace of Christianity and Judaism. Palestine is also known as the Land of Israel, the Promised Land and the Holy Land. The boundaries of Palestine have changed many times.
Palestine is now considered a country by the U.N. and most of its members. While it is recognized as a sovereign state, Palestine does not actually possess any land, and most of the territory called Palestine is controlled by Israel.
There are estimated to be 4.43 million Palestinians in the State of Palestine in 2014, with 1.7 million living in the Gaza Strip and 2.8 million in the West Bank. According to the UN, over 1.5 million Palestinian refugees live in camps in countries in the area, with about 4 million Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries but outside of refugee camps.
The number of Palestinians in Israel, the Occupied Gaza Strip, Occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank is now estimated at over 5.3 million, exceeding the Jewish population of 5.2 million.
By 2035, the Jewish population in Israel/Palestine is projected to reach 46%. The Palestinian population in Palestine is growing at about 2.4% per year, which is 33% higher than Israel's growth rate. The population is also the youngest in the region, with a birth rate of over 4 children to every woman.
40% of the Palestinian population is under 14 years old, while people at least 65 years old account for just 2.9% of the population.
Palestine Religion, Economy and Politics
Islam is the predominant religion in Palestine, with nearly 85% of people practicing it in Palestine as a whole, and 99% practicing it in the Gaza Strip. The majority of Muslims in Palestine practice Shafi'i Islam. Shia Islam is common in the Gaza Strip and Ahmadiyya Islam is often found in the West Bank. Aside from Islam, 6% of Palestinians are practicing Christians of a variety of denominations. There are also pockets of Jewish people within Eastern Jerusalem. There is no official religion in Palestine and it is generally assumed that there is freedom of religion.
The economy in Palestine has no been very strong in recent years with nearly 80% of the nation's GDP coming from foreign aid. The restrictive regime of Israel and the internal divide between the West Bank and Gaza has kept the private sector from being able to flourish.
There are two competing governments within Palestine: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the latter claiming to be able to govern the former. The government of the Palestinian National Authority is a semi-presidential multi-party republic. This means that the president is the head of state, elected by popular vote, and a prime minister is appointed by the president to direct the parliament.
Palestine Population History
The region of Palestine has a long and very tumultuous history, with a strategic location and as the birthplace of major religions. It has been controlled by many groups, including the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, early Muslims, later Muslims, modern Israelis and Palestinians. The region was one of the first in the world to see civilization.
While both Jews and Arab Muslims have claimed the land for thousands of years, today's conflict began in the start of the 20th century as Jews fleeing persecution in Europe attempted to establish a homeland in what was then a Muslim and Arab majority territory of the British Empire. The Arabs resisted. An early attempt by the U.S. to give each part of the land failed, and several wars have been fought over the region. The war of 1967 left Israel in control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which are home to large Palestinian populations.