Area & Location: The whole area of Palestine is approximately 27,000
sq.km. Israel exists on 75% of its area. The West
Bank territories are 5,970 sq.km. 327sq.km. (the
Dead Sea) .a Gaza’s area is 365 sq.km. on
the southern shores of Palestine.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 cafes located in many main cities offer
access to courier tracking systems available via
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
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