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Study in Palestine - About Palestine








General Information

Area & Location: The whole area of Palestine is approximately 27,000 Israel exists on 75% of its area. The West Bank territories are 5,970 (the Dead Sea) .a Gaza’s area is 365 on the southern shores of Palestine.

Population: The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza (1996 figures) is 2,534,603

The total Palestinian population throughout the world is 7.8 million. (1.1 million in Israel) Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA (1994 figures) is 1.15 million.

Palestinians under the age of 15 represent 51% of the total number of Palestinians.

Capital: Jerusalem

Map of Palestine
Courtesy of Google Maps

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Language: Official Language is Arabic. In addition to Arabic, alarge percentage of the population speak English, and many speak Hebrew and French.

Currency: New Israeli Shekel (NIS)


Time: G.M.T + 2 hours (in winter)
G.M.T + 3 hours ( in summer time)

Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz




Geography: Palestine is a country containing a variety of topographical features. It is easily divided into four distinct regions. Moving from the Mediterranean Sea to the east -- in other words from west to east -- one first encounters the coastal plain, then a hilly and mountainous area in Galilee, Samaria and Judaea, next the Jordan River Valley and finally a plateau in the east. In the south of the country is the very dry and inhospitable Negev Desert.

Elevations within the country range from 395m (1296 ft) below sea level along the shore of the Dead Sea -- the lowest point on the earth's surface -- to 1020m (3347 ft) on the summit of Mount Hebron.

There are principally two fertile areas: along the northern Mediterranean coast is the Plain of Sharon, and north of the Samarian hills is a valley called the Plain of Esdraelon. Water is not plentiful and such little rain as there is falls in the winter months. The country's main river, the Jordan, flows south through the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias, a large freshwater lake) to the incredibly salty Dead Sea.
On the western bank of the River Jordan, the so-called West Bank is surrounded on the north, south and west by Israel and on the east by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It shares a border with the Dead Sea in the south east.

The area of the West Bank is approximately 5860 sq km (2263 sq mi) and it is, for the most part, under Israeli occupation. The town of Jericho, however, is administered by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Along with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is set to undergo elections and negotiations to determine its future political status.

Climate: A Mediterranean climate prevails in Palestine. Summers are hot and dry. Winters are rainy and cold. The weather in Gaza is fair and warm in winter, and hot and dry in the summer. The average temperature in the West Bank in the summer is 29 degreesCelsius, in winter it is 12 degrees Celsius.

Geology: The Jordan River (Arabic: Nahar al-Urdunn) is 359km (223 miles) long and flows from Mount Hermon to the Dead Sea.

It drains an area of 16,000 sq km (6000 sq mi) and flows along the western side of the Golan Heights to the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the river was recognized as the border between Jordan and Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Because the river is shallow and follows such a twisting course, it is not used for navigation. It is of the greatest importance, however, for irrigation and the diversion of its waters for this purpose and for hydroelectric power is a matter of continual friction and dispute between Israel and Jordan.

The main crossing of the river is on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, at the famous Allenby Bridge.



Yasser Arafat was the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) up until his death.

The government of the West Bank has up to now been a dual one: one part applying to Israeli citizens and the other to Palestinians. Israelis are under Israeli law and authority while Palestinians are ruled by the Civil Administration, a joint civil and military bureaucracy, under the Israeli Ministry of Defence among others.

Jericho and its surrounding area is independent of this administration; it is now ruled by the PNA under Arafat. Up to now, Palestinian control of Jericho has been limited to the police, a new school curriculum and the administration of local health facilities. In the rest of the West Bank, Israel retains responsibility for security and administration.

As a result of the peace process, the Civil Administration has limited its concern primarily to matters directly affecting the safety and welfare of Israeli citizens. Under the terms of the accord signed in Washington in 1993, responsibility for education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism is to be transferred from Israeli control to Palestinian.

An elected Palestinian Council will negotiate with Israel to determine the final status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


Heritage and Culture

Until recently, Israel's culture has been predominantly religious, be it Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Although the hoe-that-field, pick-that-fruit, scoutlike kibbutz feeling is still in evidence, and although Judaism is the state religion, Israel is rapidly turning into a cosmopolitan consumerist society. Most Jewish Israelis play it both ways, leading a largely secular life but still taking part in the occasional religious ceremony. This is not to say that orthodoxy has died out: on the contrary, orthodox factions are becoming stronger and stronger, and their calls for a return to religiosity are louder and louder. Many Orthodox - and particularly Hasidic - Jews are recognisable by their dark clothes, beards and curly sideburns (although women tend to forego the beards and sideburns).

In Palestinian parts of the country, Muslim culture is more evident: you'll generally see fewer women, and those that you do see will be dressed more modestly. Sunni is the predominant Muslim sect. Family and hospitality are very important in Palestinian life, and most Palestinians are extremely friendly and helpful to strangers, going so far as to welcome them into their homes.

Israel is renowned for its classical music, with artists such as violinist Yitzhak Perlman strutting the world stage. Klezmer, the knees-up violin-based Yiddish folk music, is hugely popular in Israel and has spread its tentacles to Jewish communities around the world. The founders of the Zionist movement were writers, and literature is still strongly supported in Israel - successful exports have included Amos Oz and David Grossman. The Palestinian community also has a strong literary tradition, born out of adversity and struggle - poetry is particularly popular. In their passion to impose a Jewish identity on their new homeland, the new Israelis took to architecture with a passion, resulting in the form-over-function Internationalist style as well as the spread of Bauhaus buildings. Few Islamic buildings have survived into the 20th century, but there is some beautiful Mamluk architecture in Old Jerusalem.

Israeli eating habits are dictated to some extent by religious laws - Jews cannot eat dairy and meat products together, nor can they eat 'unclean' birds or fish, and neither Muslims nor Jews can eat pig. The waves of immigrants have all brought their own cuisine with them, and you will find Yemeni Jewish food (flame grilled meats, stuffed vegetables and an astonishing array of offal) and Eastern European Jewish food (schnitzel, goulash, gefilte fish and blintzes). Observant Jews are not permitted to cook on the Sabbath, so for most of Saturday they will eat cholent, a heavy stew cooked on Friday night. Arab dishes include felafel (ground chickpeas flavoured with spices and deep fried), tahina (sesame paste), houmus (chickpea and garlic paste) and flatbreads. Religious laws proscribe alcohol for Muslims, and orthodox Jews aren't too keen on it either, so tea (Arab-style with mint and a truckload of sugar) and coffee are the beverage mainstays. Palestinians also make juices from tamarind, dates and almonds.


Travel Palestine - Rediscover Your Senses - Video

A Beautiful Video About Palestine's Culture and Natural Heritage.

This video shares the treasures of Palestine, its remarkable cultural and natural heritage and the spirit of the people. The video is property of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities and was made possible in support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).



Internet: Internet cafes located in many main cities offer access to courier tracking systems available via web site.

Postal Service: the Palestine Post Office offers the following range of services; letter and parcel delivery, facsimile and telegraph services, post office box rental, postal stamp sales and limited financial services. Registered and certified mail services are offered. Large volume clients can rent postal meters and are entitled to discounted bulk rates.

Incoming mail and packages originating from Arab countries are routed through Egypt. Similarly, outgoing Palestinian mail and packages destined for Arab countries are also routed through Egypt. All other incoming and outgoing postal articles are delivered via the Israeli postal system.

There is no daily collection service of mail in the West Bank or Gaza, and door-to-door delivery is still extremely limited. All outgoing articles must be brought to the local post office for mailing. At present, most commercial and residential mail delivery is handled primarily though branch post office boxes, which is reasonably efficient. At this stage, however, it is still advisable to make use of international or local couriers for the traceable delivery of items of high value or importance.




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