Israeli Occupied Territories (Palestine)
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Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1

Israeli Occupied Territories (Palestine) Western Asia World
Baha'i <0.1% <0.1% 0.1%
Buddhist 0.0% 0.2% 7.2%
Chinese Universalist 0.0% <0.1% 6.3%
Christian 1.9% 6.1% 32.8%
Confucianist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Ethnoreligionist 0.0% <0.1% 3.5%
Hindu 0.0% 0.7% 13.8%
Jain 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Jewish 11.8% 2.6% 0.2%
Muslim 80.6% 88.7% 22.5%
Shintoist 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Sikh 0.0% <0.1% 0.3%
Spiritist 0.0% 0.0% 0.2%
Taoist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Zoroastrian 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Neoreligionists 0.0% 0.1% 0.9%
Atheist 0.1% 0.1% 2.0%
Agnostic 5.6% 1.3% 9.8%

Religious Demography2

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.


Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.

1.  The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  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.