from the CIA World Fact Book, 1998
for periodic updates, refer to

The West Bank



Current issues:

The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements ("the DOP"), signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, provides for a transitional period not exceeding five years of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Permanent status negotiations began on 5 May 1996, but have not resumed since the initial meeting.

Under the DOP, Israel agreed to transfer certain powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority, which includes a Palestinian Legislative Council elected in January 1996, as part of interim self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A transfer of powers and responsibilities 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 and the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron.

The DOP provides that Israel will retain responsibility during the transitional period for external security and for internal security and public order of settlements and Israelis. Permanent status is to be determined through direct negotiations.



Location: Middle East, west of Jordan Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 35 15 E

Area: 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
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked) Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: temperate, temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
Terrain: 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: NEGL

Land use: arable land: 27% permanent crops: 0% permanent pastures: 32% forests and woodland: 1% other: 40%
Irrigated land: NA sq km Natural hazards: NA Environment-current issues: adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment
Environment-international agreements: party to: none of the selected agreements signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography-note: landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are 207 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 1997 est.)


Population: 1,556,919 (July 1998 est.) note: in addition, there are 155,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and 164,000 in East Jerusalem (August 1997 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 45% (male 359,848; female 342,173) 15-64 years: 52% (male 405,929; female 396,928) 65 years and over: 3% (male 21,853; female 30,188) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.71% (1998 est.) Birth rate: 36.65 births/1,000 population (1998 est.) Death rate: 4.35 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.) Net migration rate: 4.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 26.35 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.47 years male: 70.7 years female: 74.33 years (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
Religions: Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)

Literacy: NA


Economic progress in the West Bank has been hampered by tight Israeli security restrictions. Industries using advanced technology or requiring sizable investment have been discouraged by a lack of local capital and Israeli policies that block the movement of goods and people. Capital investment consists largely of residential housing, not productive assets that would enable local Palestinian firms to compete with Israeli industry. GDP has been substantially supplemented by workers who commute to jobs in Israel. Worker remittances from the Persian Gulf states dropped after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In the wake of the Persian Gulf crisis, many Palestinians have returned to the West Bank, increasing unemployment, and export revenues have dropped because of the decline of markets in Jordan and the Gulf states. An estimated 147,000 people were in refugee camps in 1996.

GDP: purchasing power parity-$2.8 billion (1996 est.) GDP-real growth rate: -6.9% (1996 est.) GDP-per capita: purchasing power parity-$1,600 (1996 est.) GDP-composition by sector: agriculture: 33% industry: 25% services: 42% (1995 est., includes Gaza Strip)

Inflation rate-consumer price index: 8.4% (1996 est.)
Budget: revenues: $684 million expenditures: $779 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1996) note: includes Gaza Strip

Labor force: NA by occupation: agriculture 13%, industry 13%, commerce, restaurants, and hotels 12%, construction 8%, other services 54% (1996) note: excluding Israeli settlers
Unemployment rate: 28% (1997 est.)

Industries: 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: NA%

Electricity-capacity: NA kW 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; at the same time, some Palestinian municipalities, such as Nabulus and Janin, generate their own electricity from small power plants

Agriculture-products: olives, citrus and other fruits, vegetables; beef, dairy products

Exports: total value: $630 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.) (includes Gaza Strip) commodities: olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone partners: Jordan, Israel
Imports: total value: $1.7 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.) (includes Gaza Strip) commodities: food, consumer goods, construction materials partners: Jordan, Israel
Debt-external: $51 million (1995)
Economic aid: recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot; 1 Jordanian dinar (JD) = 1,000 fils


Telephones: NA note: 3.1% of Palestinian households have telephones
Telephone system: domestic: NA international: NA note: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for communication services in the West Bank

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 Radios: NA; note-82% of Palestinian households have radios (1992 est.) Television broadcast stations: about 25 low-powered stations Televisions: NA; note-54% of Palestinian households have televisions (1992 est.)


Railways: 0 km Highways: total: 4,500 km paved: 2,700 km unpaved: 1,800 km (1997 est.) note: Israelis have developed many highways to service Jewish settlements

Ports and harbors: none Airports: 2 (1997 est.) Airports-with paved runways: total: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

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