Life in the Middle East
The West Bank
Core Countries
Middle East: The West Bank
From Grolier's The New Book of Knowledge
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are parts of the territory allotted to the Arabs by the United Nations when, in 1947, it partitioned Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.

The West Bank takes it name from its location on the western side of the Jordan River. It has an area of about 2,263 square miles (5,860 square kilometers) and a population of about 1.6 million. Most of the people are Palestinian Arabs, with a minority of Israeli settlers. It produces citrus fruits, vegetables, olives, and beef and dairy cattle. Historically, the region included ancient Samaria and Judea (Judah), and it has many sites of religious interest to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Towns include Hebron, Nablus, Jericho, and Bethlehem. The region was occupied by Transjordan (now Jordan) during the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war. It came under Israeli control in the 1967 war. Since 1996, the Palestinian National Authority, or PNA, the Arab governing body, has had increasing self-rule in the region.

The Gaza Strip is a small, narrow territory, situated on the Mediterranean coast, north of the Sinai Peninsula. It has an area of about 147 square miles (380 square kilometers) and a population of more than 700,000, which is mainly Palestinian Arab. Gaza is the main city. The region fell to Egypt during the 1948-49 war and was occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. It has been governed since 1996 by the PNA.

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