From around 1500 BC to 500 BC, the territory of Palestine was ruled by different small kingdoms of the Canaanites, the Jebusites, the Nebateans, the Hebrews, the Amurites, the Phoenicians, the Samaritans, and the Phillistines.
In 586 BC, Palestine was conquered by the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar, deporting the Jewish population to Babylon. In 539 BC, Persia conquered the kingdom of Babylon, which included the Palestine region, and some of the Jews returned.
Following the Persian invasion, other kingdoms conquered the region, which included the empire of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, and the Seleucid Empire in 219 BC.
In 63 BC, Palestine became a territory of the Roman Empire, leading to the dispersal of the Jews and Christians out of Jerusalem.
Muslim rule in Palestine began in 638 AD, during the great Muslim conquests, where their domination in the region lasted for the next 1300 years.
During the first World War, the region came under the control of the Ottoman Empire, and subsequently the British occupation. In 1917, Britain announced the Balfour Declaration, which stated that the Palestinian territory was a homeland of the Jews, and encouraged mass immigration of the Jewish population from European cities. Britain's formal mandate of the region was formally announced in 1922.
Following the Second World War in 1947, Britain announced their termination of the mandate and left the United Nations with the decision to divide the territory of Israel. A recommendation for partition of Palestine between an Arab state and a Jewish state was imposed. This was accepted by Jewish leadership but rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, resulting to a civil war.
In 1948, during the Arab-Israeli War, over 700,000 Palestinians fled the region or were forced to leave and unable to return. Palestine had also lost its West Bank territory to Israel and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. The Six-Day War in 1967 resulted to Israel taking control of the Gaza Strip and after which, they began Israeli settlements on the territory.
Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation started in 1987, leading to the Declaration of the State of Palestine in 1988.
The State of Palestine consists of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank borders Israel and Jerusalem to its west and the Gaza Strip is found in the southwestern coast of Israel - its southwest border is Egypt, and to the east is Jordan.
Palestine is divided into 4 geographical regions: the Desert, which makes half of the total area; Al-Ghor or the Rift Valley, which borders Jordan and Syria; the Mountain, running in the middle of the city from north to south; and the Coastal region that runs from the Ras Al-Naqura from the north to the Rafah to the south.
Before the Palestinian unity of government in June 2014, Palestine was divided into 2 separate administrations: the Fatah's Government of the State of Palestine in the West Bank, and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip.
The Fatah-dominated Government of the State of Palestine is a semi-presidential multi-party republic with a President and a Prime Minister. The President is the highest ranking position, while the Prime Minister is appointed by the President and acts as Head of Government.
The Palestinian unity of government formed in June 2014 is the national and political union of the Fatah and the Hamas governments.
Travel in Palestine is limited to the West Bank region. Tourism is an integral part of their economy and most tourists visit the region for its holy shrines and historical treasures.
Bethlehem is one of the West Bank's most popular travel destinations especially during Christmas, where celebrations and religious parades are held for many days. A holy city to Christians and Muslims, it is considered to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ - attracting thousands of Christians every year. One of the most anticipated events of the year is the Patriach Parade, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage tradition in 2012.
Ramallah is the most vibrant city in Palestine. The cultural capital of the West Bank, this city is packed with cafes, cosmopolitan restos, a thriving arts scene, and a bustling night scene with plenty of bars. But the city also has its own offerings of historic sites such as mosques, churches, and the popular Tomb of Arafat.
Jericho is an ancient city considered to be the oldest in the world. Jericho is said to have been built 10,000 years ago. This sleepy city is packed with archaeological sites, palaces, tombs, and synagogues.
Hebron is famous for its historic and religious sites, with the most famous attraction of the Cave of the Patriarchs - which is said to be home of the tombs of biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The city is also known for its pottery and glassblowing workshops, and its local produce of grapes, and limestone minerals.
Education is highly valued in Palestine, with its adult literacy rate of 91.91% and the youth literacy rate at 98.2%. Its enrollment rate is high by global standards, and rated as the highest in the region. Over 43 higher education institutions are found all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Last Updated : July 12, 2018
- The olive tree is the symbol of Palestinian identity, tradition, and culture. About 45% of Palestine's agricultural land is used for olive production, and provides employment for about 100,000 families.
- There are more Palestinian refugees than any other nationality in the world.
- Christmas is celebrated in 3 different dates in Bethlehem: December 25 for the Catholics, January 6 for the Greek Orthodox, and January 18 for the Armenians.