Brief Report on the Population of Palestine at the End of 2021

Fourteen Million Total Number of Palestinians in the World

The estimated number of Palestinians at the end of 2021 was about 14 million: 5.3 million in the State of Palestine (3.2 million in the West Bank and 2.1 million in the Gaza Strip), 1.7 million in the 1948 territories, and nearly 7 million in the diaspora (6.3 million live in Arab countries and 750,000 in foreign countries). The following is a description of Palestinian demographics in the State of Palestine.

More than one-third of the population of the State of Palestine is under 15 years of age. Those 0-14 years old constitute an average of 38 percent of the total population at the end of 2021 (36 percent in the West Bank and 41 percent in the Gaza Strip). The percentage of the elderly population aged 65 years and above reached an average of 3 percent of the total population in Palestine (4 percent in the West Bank and 3 percent in the Gaza Strip).

There is a decline in the fertility rates. The total fertility rate during the 2017–2019 period has declined to four births per woman, compared to five births in 1999. It is noteworthy that the average size of the Palestinian household has dropped to an average of five individuals in 2019, compared to six in 2000 (five individuals in the West Bank and six in the Gaza Strip).

Figure 1. Fertility Rates in the State of Palestine, Selected Years

The Educational Reality in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

The number of K-12 students during the academic year 2020/2021 in Palestine reached 1,338,353 (665,294 males and 673,059 females), with 746,869 in the West Bank (367,717 males and 379,152 females) and 591,484 in the Gaza Strip (297,577 males and 293,907 females).

The number of students enrolled at higher education institutions in 2020/2021 reached 214,765 (82,179 males and 132,586 females), with 136,920 in the West Bank (48,830 males and 88,090 females) and 77,845 in the Gaza Strip (33,349 males and 44,496 females). The number of graduates from higher education institutions in the academic year 2019/2020 was 41,137 (15,228 males and 25,909 females), with 28,668 graduates in the West Bank (9,791 males and 18,877 females) and 12,469 graduates in the Gaza Strip (5,437 males and 7,032 females).

The Impact of the COVID–19 Pandemic on Palestinian Society

The pandemic continues to have profound impact on the Palestinian people. Palestine lost more than 4,900 citizens to COVID-19 by December 28, 2021. More than 470,000 individuals have been infected; 51 percent of them are females. Many are still suffering from this pandemic and its devastating consequences and impacts. It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian Ministry of Health vaccinated more than 1.8 million citizens by December 28, 2021. In the same context, the results of the “Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Socio-Economic Conditions of Palestinian Households Survey,” during the period March to May 2020, showed that 84 percent of Palestinian households expressed concern about being infected with COVID-19 (36 percent were very worried about the infection). Fifteen percent of the households confirmed that at least one of them was infected with COVID-19, and 31 percent of the households—in which at least one member was infected with COVID-19—confirmed that their infected household members suffered social ostracism. As for the measures taken after infection with the COVID-19, results showed that 96 percent of the infected people adhered/committed to the home quarantine, 81 percent took vitamins/antibiotics but without consulting any health center, 84 percent took only medicinal herbs but without consulting any health center, while 32 percent visited a public health center that was not specialized in COVID-19, and 48 percent visited a COVID-19 specialized health center.

The results of the survey also showed that 30 percent of those infected with COVID-19 caught the infection when visiting family and friends, 22 percent from work, 10 percent from attending a wedding or a funeral, 8 percent from hospitals and health care centers, and 8 percent from universities and schools. On the other hand, 16 percent of the infected persons said they did not know from where they or their family members caught COVID-19. In the same context and according to a study carried out by PCBS in cooperation with the Arab American University (AAUP) during the period September to October 2021 that targeted individuals 18 years and above in the West Bank, 76 percent of those infected individuals developed antibodies to the virus, with no noticeable difference observed between men (79 percent) and women (78 percent), while there are significant differences between those who developed antibodies according to different age groups, as the highest was for individuals 50 years and above (reaching about 84 percent), then individuals in the age group 30 to 49 (78 percent), and individuals in the age group 18 to 29 (69 percent).

Continuous Israeli Aggression and Colonization

Within Israel’s systematic policy to uproot the Palestinian people from their land, the attacks perpetrated by the Israeli occupation and settlers against Palestinians continued in all localities, especially in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in Jerusalem, in addition to the Palestinian villages of Burqa and Beita to the north of the West Bank. These attacks included confiscating Palestinians’ lands, demolishing their houses, and assaulting them. Furthermore, the Israeli occupation demolished and destroyed 975 buildings during 2020, of which 30 percent were in the Jerusalem Governorate, with an increase of 45 percent compared to 2019. At the same time, the Israeli occupation is building hundreds of new settlement units, where 700,000 settlers live in 151 settlements illegally set up on Palestinian land in the West Bank. The number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons reached 4,650 detainees by December 22, 2021 (according to data from the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, 2021), including 200 children and 40 women.

This brief report was prepared and published by H.E. Dr. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), on December 28, 2021.

All correspondence should be directed to:
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
P. O. Box 1647, Ramallah P6028179 – Palestine.
Tel.: (970/972) 2 298 2700
Fax: (970/972) 2 298 2710
Toll Free: 1800300300