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December 2008

Gaza Strip, 2005

Gaza Strip, 2005

Covering a land area of 360 sq. km (approximately twice the size of Washington, DC) with a population of 1.5 million, the Gaza Strip is a narrow sliver of land in the westernmost portion of the Palestinian territories in Southwest Asia and borders Egypt, Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea. This region has a temperate climate with mild winters and dry, warm to hot summers. The terrain consists of flat to rolling, sand-and-dune covered coastal plains.

The Gaza Strip's borders were originally defined by the armistice lines between Egypt and Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Gaza Strip was occupied by Egyptian forces until the region was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1993, after the Palestinian-Israeli agreements known as the Oslo Accords, much of the Strip came under limited Palestinian Authority control.

High population density, limited land access, and strict internal and external security controls have kept economic conditions in the Gaza Strip - the smaller of the two areas under the Palestinian Authority (PA)- even more degraded than in the West Bank. The beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 sparked an economic downturn.

In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement plans for unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip beginning on August 15, 2005. The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005 offered some medium-term opportunities for economic growth, but continued Israeli-imposed crossings closures, which became more restrictive after Hamas violently took over the territory in June 2007, have resulted in widespread private sector layoffs and shortages of most goods.

Agricultural products of Gaza include: olives, citrus, vegetables, beef and dairy products. Industrial production in Gaza consists of generally small family businesses that produce textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings and mother-of-pearl souvenirs.

CIA World Factbook, 2008/12

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