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A map of PalestineA map of Palestine The State of Palestine (Palestinian Territories) is made up of two, geographically separate parts: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank lies between Israel and the River Jordan. Much of the region is mountainous; in the east the land slopes down to arid lowlands and the shores of the Dead Sea. The Gaza Strip, a much smaller area, lies on the Mediterranean coastal plain. Both regions have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, mild winters and little rainfall. Although the State of Palestine is recognized by a large number of countries in the world, it does not have control over the territories it claims as its own. Israel has occupied both the Gaza Strip and West Bank since 1967, when war forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Today, Palestine is a nation damaged by decades of conflict.

A map of the West Bank and GazaA map of the West Bank and Gaza

Palestinian refugees

After wars with Israel in 1948 and 1967, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left their homes and jobs to look for a safer place to live. Today, more than 4 million Palestinian refugees live in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as well as in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Many live in refugee camps set up by the United Nations.

The city of Bethlehem in the West Bank is thought to have been the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The Church of the Nativity marks his birthplace with a 14-pointed star, while a square in the city, Manger Square, is named after the manger in which he is said to have been born.

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