Principal city of the Gaza Strip
Gaza is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, north of the Sinai Peninsula and southwest of Jerusalem. A city of historical and religious importance, Gaza has been disputed since ancient times. Along with the rest of the Gaza Strip, Gaza came under Israeli occupation in 1967. In May 1994 the city became the headquarters of the new Palestinian Authority, which administers Palestinian areas in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Gaza is the economic center for a region in which citrus fruits and other crops are grown. The city contains some small industry, including textiles and food processing. A variety of wares are sold in Gaza's street bazaars, including carpets, pottery, wicker furniture, and cotton clothing; commercial development in the city is minimal. Gaza serves as a transportation hub for the Gaza Strip, and contains a small port that serves a local fishing fleet. Points of interest in Gaza include the Great Mosque and Al Jundi, or the Square of the Unknown Soldier, built by the Egyptian army.
Gaza's population is composed entirely of Muslim Palestinian Arabs. A massive influx of Palestinian refugees swelled Gaza's population after the 1948 Arab Israeli war . By 1967 the population had grown to about six times its 1948 size. The city's population has continued to increase since that time, and poverty, unemployment, and poor living conditions are widespread. Gaza has serious deficiencies in housing and infrastructure, and an inadequate sewage system has contributed to serious problems of hygiene and public health.
Strategically located on the Mediterranean coastal route, ancient Gaza was a prosperous trade center and a stop on the caravan route between Egypt and Syria. The city was occupied by Egypt around the 15th century BC. Philistines settled the area several hundred years later, and Gaza became one of their chief cities.
Gaza was captured by Arabs in the AD 600s. Believed to be the site where the Prophet Muhammad's great grandfather was buried, the city became an important Islamic center . In the 12th century Gaza was taken by Christian Crusaders, it returned to Muslim control in 1187. The city fell to the Ottomans in the 16th century and was taken by the British during World War I (1914-1918).
Following World War I, Gaza became part of the British mandate for Palestine. After the first Arab Israel war in 1948, Egypt took control over Gaza and its surrounding area. Israel occupied the city and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Six Day War, and Gaza remained under Israeli administration for the next 27 years.
With the onset of the Palestinian uprising known as the intifada in 1987, Gaza became a center of political unrest and confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, and economic conditions in the city worsened.
In September 1993 leaders of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a peace agreement calling for Palestinian administration of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho, which was implemented in May 1994. Most of the Israeli forces left Gaza, leaving a new Palestinian Authority to administer and police the city, along with the rest of the Gaza Strip and Jericho. The Palestinian Authority, led by Yasser Arafat, chose Gaza as its first provincial headquarters. In September 1995 Israel and the PLO signed a second peace agreement extending the Palestinian Authority to some West Bank towns . The agreement also established an elected 88-member Palestinian Council, which held its inaugural session in Gaza in March 1996.
Gaza is the largest Palestinian City and the temporary administrative capital residence of the Palestinian National Authority. After years of occupation and denial of its historical identity, Gaza is now recollect-ing its flourishing past: archaeological research as well as ancient writings have proved that Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated in a strategic location on the trade routes between Asia and Africa, between the desert in the South and the Mediterranean climate in the North, Gaza is a very fertile land that has always been an important destination for travelers by land and sea. As a crossroad city Gaza was also a wealthy trading place that has been coveted and regularly captured by successive waves of armies. However, symbols of the struggle of the Palestinians, the citizens of Gaza have shown their determination and vitality. After years of Israeli occupation, Gazans are now fighting in rebuilding their city. A lot has already been done and one can enjoy the beautiful seashore and wonderful hospitality of the Gazans.
Like the Phoenix, symbol of Gaza, the city is born again from its ashes and is taking on a new lease of life.
About Gaza City:
- Gaza is located at 34o-longitude and 31o-latitude.
- The area of the city is 45 km2.
- The number of inhabitants is about 400,000 people.
- The city has three universities with a total of 28.500 students.
- Three different currencies are used: US dollar, Jordanian dinar and new Israeli shekel.
- The gross domestic product per capita is (US$, 1997) 1,763.
- The annual average tempe-rature of the city is 20.3o C.
- The highest temperature is in summer and reaches 32o C.
- The lowest temperature is in winter and reaches 6o C.
- The annual average wind speed is 19 knots.
- The highest wind speed is in winter and reaches 60 knots.
- The annual average rainfall is 350 - 400 mm.
- The prevailing wind is from the southwest.
Beach Refugee Camp
Municipality of Gaza