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May 19, 2008

The Silver Lining on Gaza's Population Density

We often read about the Gaza Strip's high population density, including false reports (including in Haaretz) that it is the most densely populated place in the world.

But here's something we haven't seen before: Gaza's high population density is partly the result of better health care introduced by Israel. Ha'aretz's Amir Oren reports:

As uncomfortable as it is to admit, the data suggests that the Israeli occupation did well by Gaza. Life expectancy in the Strip has risen from 48 years in 1967 to over 72 years now, higher than the life expectancy in Egypt, which was not very kind to Gaza when the Strip was subject to its military rule. According to a study conducted by Daniel Nadav of the Defense Ministry, the introduction of Israel's health-care system into Gaza, the adoption of local hospitals by Israeli medical centers, and the transfer of Palestinian patients to hospitals in Israel resulted in a sharp and immediate drop in the mortality rate. This positive development had negative consequences - a growing population density caused by a high rate of natural increase, and diseases that are more common in societies that have changed their consumption habits and aged (in 1967 only one in 70 people in Gaza was elderly).

Posted by TS at May 19, 2008 03:30 AM


but by 2006, 1 in 40 (or 2.5%) were elderly in the Gaza according to here

So I'm not sure how useful that statistic comparison is; how does it compare to other countries, for example?

But interestingly, the elderly Gazans seemed pretty satisfied with their lives according to the PA's surveys.

Posted by: Adam at May 28, 2008 01:52 PM

According to an article in the Spectator published April 24, 2008, Tel-Aviv is more densely populated than Gaza. He lists several other areas around the world with far greater population densities including Mombai, India at over 27,000 people/sq km compared to 4,200/ sq km in Gaza and 7,400 for Tel-Aviv. Here is the link to the article:

Posted by: Art at December 31, 2008 01:05 PM

Gaza is not even close to the densest place on Earth. The Upper East Side of Manhattan, for example, is almost 10 times as dense.
The only credibility to that claim could come from calling Gaza one of the densest places on earth in "real" terms, which demographers use to measure population density per square km of arable land. see here:

On that list, Gaza is 6th (of course, only if you assume Gaza is a country of its own). And of course, nearly ever country the size of Gaza makes it high on that list, so its not a very useful metric for anything other than small land mass.

And, in the end, there is no way this is what the media is referring to when it calls Gaza dense, since there are so many nuances and assumptions to make if what they really meant is "real population density."

Posted by: R Ben Yehuda at January 5, 2009 02:34 PM

Funny how Israel and its apologists on the one hand will use Gaza's population density when convenient to excuse high civilian casualty counts by IDF operations there, while on the other hand, they belittle the population density when convenient to discredit those objecting to those same IDF operations there. Nothing like having it both ways.

Another disingenuous tactic is to compare Gaza Strip, the territory as a whole, with individual cities, which will, of course, provide skewed results. I see a couple of the comments here doing this.

Neither do I agree with the exaggerations made of Gaza Strip's population density. As a general reference only, the population density of Gaza Strip as a whole is roughly about that of Boston, or approximately one-and-a-half times that of Los Angeles. While not as dense as some places, it is still very dense; there is no need for exaggeration.

However, the population densities of Gaza's cities, where the vast preponderance of civilian casualties inflicted by Israel occur, are considerably higher. For example, Gaza City, ranked the 40th most densely populated urban area in the world, has 42,600 people per square mile; Tel Aviv, 15,500; London, 15,100; Shanghai, 16,200; Tokyo/Yokohama 11,400; Mumbai, 83,800.

Compared to other countries, Gaza ranks fifth, behind Macau, Monaco, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The West Bank ranks twenty-fifth, and Israel thirty-third.

There are a couple of other components to this that should be kept in mind. Gaza Strip in its entirety is just twice the size of Washington, D.C., while Gaza City occupies only 17 square miles. Compare that to Shanghai at 1400 square miles; London, 671; or Tel Aviv, 185. The median age in the Gaza Strip is just 18 years old, with a very high proportion of the population 14 years of age or younger; 43.5 percent. In Egypt, that figure is 32 percent, and in Israel, 27 percent.

Primary sources: Demographia World Urban Areas, 2014; CIA World Fact Book, 2014; Index Mundi, 2013; New Scientist 08/2014; Washington Post, 07/2014.

Hopefully, this information will provide a more objective perspective.

Posted by: wilywascal at September 6, 2014 12:22 PM

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