Occupied Palestinian Territories
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (71.7%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Occupied Palestinian Territories Western Asia World
Muslim (all denominations combined) 81.3% 83.4% 22.8%
 
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 71.7% 57% 19%
     
  • Other and Unknown Muslim
  • 9.6% 0.8% 0.3%
    Jewish 11.3% 2.2% 0.2%
    Christian (all denominations combined) 1.5% 5.6% 29.9%
     
  • Orthodox
  • 0.7% 3.2% 3%
     
  • Catholic
  • 0.4% 2.1% 15%
     
  • Anglican
  • 0.1% --- 1.2%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • 0.3% 0.3% 2.3%
    Other Religionist 0.1% 0.3% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 5.7% 1.2% 12%
    Unknown 0.2% 0.2% 4.8%

    Religious Demography3

    The Gaza Strip has an area of 143 square miles and a population of 1.3 million. The West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) has an area of 2,238 square miles, and its population is 2.4 million persons, not including approximately 250,000 Israelis. East Jerusalem has an area of 27 square miles, and its population is 415,000, including approximately 180,000 Israelis.

    Approximately 98 percent of Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories are Sunni Muslims. The total number of Christians is 200,000. Other estimates placed the Christian community between 40,000 and 90,000 persons. A majority of Christians are Greek Orthodox; the remainder consists of Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Protestants, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Copts, Maronites, and Ethiopian Orthodox denominations. Christians are concentrated primarily in the areas of Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, but smaller communities exist elsewhere, including in Gaza. According to municipal officials in Bethlehem, since 2002 approximately 2,800 Christians from the Bethlehem area have left the West Bank for other countries. According to Christian leaders, most left for economic and security reasons. Low birth rates among Palestinian Christians and the impact of the separation barrier also contribute to their shrinking numbers. There is also a community of approximately 400 Samaritans located on Mount Gerazim near Nablus in the West Bank.

    Adherents of several denominations of evangelical Christians, as well as members of the Jehovah's Witnesses, reside in the West Bank. Foreign missionaries operate in the Occupied Territories, including a small number of evangelical Christian pastors who reportedly sought to convert Muslims to Christianity. While they maintained a generally low profile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was aware of their activities and generally did not restrict them.


    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    3.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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