The Gaza Strip borders Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Covering a total of 360 sq km, it is slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. The Gaza Strip has temperate weather with mild winters and dry, warm to hot summers. It has flat to rolling sand- and dune-covered coastal plains; Abu 'Awdah (105 m) is its highest point. Natural hazards are droughts; natural resources are arable land and natural gas.
The September 1993 Israel-PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. An Egyptian-brokered truce in June 2008 between Israel and HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) brought about a five-month pause in hostilities, but spiraling end-of-year violence resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians and left tens of thousands of people homeless.
There are an estimated 1,604,000 (July 2010) people living in the Gaza Strip. The majority (53%) are between 15-64 years of age. High population density, limited land and sea access, continuing isolation, and strict internal and external security controls have degraded economic conditions in the Gaza Strip. Israeli-imposed crossings closures, which became more restrictive after HAMAS violently took over the territory in June 2007, and fighting between HAMAS and Israel during December 2008-January 2009, resulted in the near collapse of most of the private sector, extremely high unemployment, and high poverty rates. Shortages of many goods are met through the HAMAS-controlled black market tunnel trade that flourishes under the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.
CIA World Factbook, 10/2010
This map has also been used:
- Gaza Strip, December 2008