Gaza, or Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip. Gaza has been controlled by many empires and people throughout its long history, which dates back to at least the 15th century BC. Gaza is the largest city of the State of Palestine with an estimated population of 750,000 in 2015.
Population Density and City Size
The Gaza Strip is often called one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Gaza City itself is likely the 40th most densely populated urban area globally. While it may not be the most densely populated, it has a tiny geographical area of just 17 square miles. This means there are 42,600 people per square mile, compared to 83,800 in Mumbai -- which has 12 times more area. The city of Gaza has a total surface area of approximately 45 square kilometers (17 square miles).
One of Gaza's most celebrated landmarks is the Great Mosque in the Old City. The mosque was originally a pagan temple, although it was consecrated as a Greek Orthodox church by the Byzantines then turned into a mosque in the 8th century. Crusaders turned it into a church, but it was once more established as a mosque after the Muslims again conquered Gaza. It's the largest and oldest mosque in the Gaza Strip.
Most people in Gaza are Muslim, most of whom follow Sunni Islam. Gaza has about 3,500 Palestinian Christians who live in the Zaytun Quarter of the Old City. Most belong to Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Greek Orthodox denominations.
Gaza once had a sizable Jewish community with a history going back 3,000 years. Most Jewish people in Gaza fled following the 1929 Palestine riots, and by 1945, there were 80 Jews in the city. No Jews are living in Gaza today.
Gaza has a very high percentage of young people. About 75% of Gaza's population is under the age of 25. According to demographers, there are several reasons for this. One is the fact that a low percentage of Palestinian women have jobs. It's the region of the world where the fewest number of women work outside the home. Gaza has a very high fertility rate of 4.4 children per woman, in part because women are usually housebound and men earn more money when their families grow larger.
Gaza Population History
The earliest record of Gaza's population shows 6,000 people living in the city in 1596, which made it the third largest city of Ottoman Palestine at the time after Jerusalem and Safad. In 1838, it surpassed Jerusalem's population with about 15,500 people. The population swelled to 42,000 before World War I, although battles in 1917 caused the population to plummet to 17,000. Gaza's population once more began to grow in the 1970s and '80s, reaching 300,000 by 1997.
Gaza Population Growth
Gaza is currently growing at a rate of 3% per year, which is the 13th highest growth rate in the world. The city is already very crowded with limited space for new construction. The city's schools are overcrowded with an average of 40 children in every classroom. Between 2000 and 2013 alone, Gaza grew by over 687,000. By 2020, the region will have 2.1 million people.