PCBS Reports: Gaza Strip Is the Most Densely Populated Place on Earth

On the occasion of the International Population Day on Monday, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) revealed new data about the population in the occupied Palestinian territory, which it said now totaled 4.81 million people in mid-2016.

According to the PCBS, the total population of Palestine in mid-2016 was about 4.81 million; 2.45 million males and 2.36 million females. The estimated population of West Bank was 2.93 million, of which 1.49 million males and 1.44 million females. The estimated population of Gaza Strip totaled 1.88 million, of which 956 thousand males and 925 thousand females. The percentage of the urban population at mid-2016 was 73.9%, while the percentages of population in rural areas and camps were 16.6% and 9.5% respectively. PCBS also kept a record of the population density of Palestine, which is generally high.
PCBS did not give data regarding Palestinians living in Israel and abroad. However, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) estimated earlier this year that 20 percent of the population in Israel — or 1.77 million people — were Palestinian.

Based off of this data, the total population of Palestinians in historical Palestine, which includes present-day Israel — some 6.58 million — outnumbers the ICBS’ estimation of the Jewish Israeli population, which it said totaled 6.38 million, confirming 2014 projections by PCBS.
As of 2010, PCBS estimated that 4.88 million Palestinians lived in the Arab world, while another 626,824 lived in other countries.
Based off of these statistics, the global Palestinian population can be estimated to count more than 12 million people.

In the Gaza Strip, the rate is estimated at 5,154 persons/km2, compared to a lower population density in the West Bank, with 519 persons/km2 at mid-2016. Population projections also revealed that crude birth rate in Palestine is expected to drop from 30.9 births per 1000 of the population in 2016 to 29.0 births per 1000 in 2020. On the other hand, the crude death rate is expected to decline from 3.5 deaths per 1000 of the population in 2016 to 3.4 deaths per 1000 in 2020 in Palestine. Data revealed a decline in the average of the size of households in the West Bank from 6.1 persons in 1997 to 4.9 in 2015, while it declined in Gaza Strip from 6.9 persons to 5.7 for the same period. The size of female-headed households was relatively small, with an average size of 2.9 persons compared to 5.7 persons in male-headed households. The results of labor force survey revealed that the labor force participation rate in the first quarter of 2016 is 45.8% of the total labor force (Persons aged 15 years and above) of which 45.5% in the West Bank and 46.4% in Gaza Strip. The results showed that more than one-fourth of participants in the labor force were unemployed in the first quarter of 2016. The unemployment rate reached 42.8% among females compared to 22.3% among males.

The Gaza Strip, already believed to be the most densely populated place on earth, has a population density of 5,154 persons per square kilometer, PCBS reported — 10 times more than the West Bank density of 519 people per square kilometer.

Palestinians are overwhelmingly urbanized, with PCBS estimating that 73.9 percent of the population lives in urban areas, as opposed to 16.6 percent of in rural areas and 9.5 percent in camps.

PCBS added that the Palestinian population was fairly young, with 39.2 percent of Palestinians aged 14 and younger — 36.9 percent of the population in the West Bank and 42.8 percent in the Gaza Strip — while Palestinians more than 65 years old only constituted 2.9 percent of the population — 3.2 percent in the West Bank, and 2.4 percent in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the profile of Palestinian families has been slowly changing, according to PCBS data. Women’s fertility rate has declined from six births per women in 1997 to 4.1 births in 2013 — 3.7 births per woman in the West Bank compared to 4.5 births in Gaza. As a result, the average household size has gone down from 6.4 persons in 1997 to 5.2 in 2015.

Additionally, 2015 data revealed that 10.9 percent of Palestinian households were headed by women, although these households tended to be much smaller, constituted of an average of 2.9 persons.

Meanwhile, the total labor force participation rate for Palestinians ages 15 and up stood at 45.8 percent, with an average unemployment rate of 26.6 percent, with 18 percent unemployment in the West Bank and a staggering 41.2 percent in the Gaza Strip.

Women’s participation in the labor force remains very low, with 19.4 percent of women participating in the workforce during the first quarter of 2016, compared to 71.6 percent of men. Women were also twice more likely to be unemployed than men, with a 42.8 percent of them unemployed compared to 22.3 percent of men.