The Gaza Strip is a narrow territory extending into Israel along the Mediterranean coast from the Egyptian border at the northern end of the Sinai Peninsula. It is 30 miles long and 4 to 7 miles wide, with 1.5 million people living in it.
Gaza has one of the highest overall growth rates and population densities in the world, the population density in some areas reaching more than 3,000 inhabitants per square mile. In 1997 the number of Palestinian families at or below the poverty level, defined as $650 per person per year (less than $2 per day), stood at 40%.
In recent years, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have led the Israeli government to impose regular border restrictions on Palestinians working in Israel. These restrictions have resulted in extreme unemployment (45%-70%) and economic hardship for the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip. Poverty, extreme overcrowding, crime and poor sanitation have become pervasive. 80% of the people in Gaza depend on charities for food.
The Christian community in Gaza is estimated to be about 2,000 persons. This total comes from the only three churches in the whole of the Gaza Strip: Greek Orthodox, Catholic Church and one Evangelical church.
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