The population of Palestine in 2018 is estimated at 5 million,[1] 76% of which live in urban areas.[2] The long-standing military occupation of Palestine has taken a heavy toll on the living conditions of the Palestinian people and the prospects for the development of the country. From 1967 until 1993, the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and West Bank were under complete Israeli control. Following the Oslo Peace Accords, some areas of the West Bank were handed over to Palestinian National Authority, along with 60% of the Gaza Strip. According to the latest UNRWA figures, the number of Palestinian refugees is estimated at 5.3 million, up from 3.8 million refugees in 2000.[3] The Palestinian population in Palestine is growing at around 2.7% per year, with a fertility rate of over 4 children per woman; the population is very young with 61.9% of its population below 24 years old in 2015.[1]

The life expectancy at birth increased from 70.3 years in 1995-2000 to 73.7 years in 2015-2020,[1] while the maternal mortality rate declined from 72 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 45 per 100,000 live births in 2015.[4]

In 2017, 29.2 percent of the Palestinian population lived below the national poverty line, increasing from 25.8 percent in 2011.[5] By the end of 2017, there were 2.5 million Palestinian, around 50.5 percent of the population, in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the prolonged protection crises resulting from the Israeli ongoing occupation and the deepening of the internal Palestinian political divide.[6]

Palestine’s adult literacy rate increased from 92.3 percent in 2004 to 96.9 percent in 2016, compared to an average of 75.3 percent in the Arab region.[7] The gross enrollment rate for primary education leveled at 93.9% in 2016, with a Gender Parity Index (GPI) of 1.0. The gross tertiary education rate grew from 23.9% in 2000 to 42.8% in 2016.[7]

Palestine is a lower-middle-income country[8] with a GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) of Int$ 20.8 billion[4] in 2017, and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of Int$ 5560.[4] Services constituted the highest share of GDP at 20.3 percent of GDP in 2016.[9] In 2017, the economic activity was further strained, with GDP growth declining to 2.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2017 and down from 4.1 percent in 2016, as a result of the lower donor funding, and declining economic and financial buffers—most acutely in Gaza—and liquidity constraints.[10] In 2017, the overall fiscal deficit remained large at 7.7 percent of GDP and gross public debt leveled at 36.7 percent of GDP.[10]

The country witnessed a rapid increase in the labor force over the last two decades, increasing from 39% in 2000 to 46% in 2018.[11] Job creation was insufficient to absorb this increase in the labor force, leading to high levels of unemployment. In 2018, unemployment rate registered 25.3%, 25% for men and 36.3% for women. The unemployment rate was especially high among youth, also increasing from 21.3% in 2000 to 41.4% in 2018. Youth unemployment was much higher for women at 52.6% compared to 39.2% for men between the age 15 and 24.[11]



This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 28 December 2018.



[1] World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
[2] World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
[3] The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
[4] World Development Indicators, The World Bank
[5] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
[6] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), December 2017, 2018-2020 Humanitarian Response Strategy
[7] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Arab region figures exclude Comoros and Somalia.
[8] The World Bank
[9] ADP team computations based on figures extracted from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
[10] International Monetary Fund (IMF), March 9, 2018, “West Bank and Gaza: Report to the ad hoc liaison committee
[11] ILOSTAT- International Labour Organization (ILO)!%40%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Dnull%26_afrLoop%3D72118643750669%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Dcbv7c6g1b_4


view all

Data Highlighted

  • Palestinians continue to face severe water shortages with the decline in access to improved water sources to 58.4% in 2015, down from 90.9% in 2000.

view all