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What Should I Know About Palestine?

Margo Upson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Palestine is an area located in southwest Asia. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. Previous names for the area include Canaan and Judea. The name Palestine was given to the area by the Romans in 135 AD. It is currently made up of two separate areas, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Human remains found in Palestinian areas have dated back as far as 1.5 million years ago. It was one of the first areas of civilization and the site of many of the holy events of the Christian Bible. The history of Palestine has been marked by thousands of years of political unrest. The people have been invaded and occupied by the Egyptian, Ottoman, Byzantine, and Roman empires, among others.

Religion has always been an important part of Palestinian life. The majority of Palestinians are Muslims, making up approximately 80 percent of the population; Sunni Muslims make up 78 percent and Shi'is Muslims, 2 percent. The remaining 20 percent of the population is Christian, Jewish, Baha'i, atheist, or participants in smaller, less-known religions.

Palestinians have been in conflict with Israel throughout most of Israel's history. Earlier fights were over land and perceived faults between the two. The most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted more than 50 years, with occasional times of peace and times of violence interrupting the uneasy relationship. Both are fighting over the same land. Many attempts have been made to make a separate Palestinian state and a separate Israeli state, but the leaders of both have not been able to coexist peacefully without intervention.

The current conflict dates to 1948, when Israel and Palestinians were each given their own land. In 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel invaded Palestinian area, occupying almost half of their land. The almost constant fighting between the two countries since then has cost thousands of lives. Controversial walls and fences surround much of Palestinian land, reportedly as a way to reduce fighting. Palestine is not considered a country by most of the world, the United States included.

There have been several attempts to bring peace to Israel and Palestinians. One of these attempts has taken the form of summer camps where young Israelis and Palestinians work and play together. One camp, Seeds of Peace, located in Maine, in the United States, has received global recognition for the work it has done. The goal of peace programs involving youth is that the next generation of Palestinians and Israelis will be better equipped to negotiate peace.

It is hoped that Palestinian areas will one day be a safe place to live and visit. Although most tourists are able to safely visit Palestinian land, specifically the safer West Bank, travel to this area is not always recommended. Before visiting the area, tourists are encouraged to check current conditions in the area and plan their travel accordingly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson , Writer
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a WiseGeek writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.

Discussion Comments

By Synyc — On Jan 10, 2016

Ok I don't understand why the facts on this subject are always twisted. Palestine has never truly existed. It was part of the several countries that attacked Israel in 1948 soon after Israel was given the right to exist. Israel kicked all their butts and occupied the territory in question. Citizens in the "Palestine' region were actually citizens of countries like Egypt and Syria. Israel offered to give all the land back after the war if the attacking countries would agree to peace. Only Egypt agreed. The other countries left their citizens in the occupied land and would not let them return to their perspective countries so they may be used as pawns. Every single day missiles are fired at Israel and terrorists attack as we speak and then everyone gets mad when Israel retaliates.

By anon992063 — On Aug 10, 2015

A truly awful article on Palestine. The one on Israel doesn't even mention the Palestinian people. Truly shocking. And so disappointing - I was really happy to have discovered this site, was reading article after article, and then I came to Israel and Palestine. If you can get that so badly wrong - either due to ignorance or deceit - then chances are a lot of your articles also contain countless fallacies. Your credibility just plummeted to zero. Such a shame.

By anon349193 — On Sep 24, 2013

I am Palestinian and all my ancestors were born in Palestine. My grandpa was forced to leave Palestine when the Israelis started killing Palestinians and occupying their land. The Europeans were fed up with Jews in their countries then and Belfour decided to relieve Europe by promising the land of Palestine to the Jews as their Holy Land.

A lot of Jews starting coming to Palestine as the UK was promising them a great life in a land of their own. Unfortunately, the US and many European countries brainwash their people in the media by showing Israel as the victim. I suggest you revise your facts and read more before making judgments.

By anon120123 — On Oct 20, 2010

It is a little known fact that many of the so-called 1948 refugees weren't actually born in Palestine.

The United Nations definition of "Palestinian refugee" is as follows: "Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict" This definition of a refugee also covers "the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948."

In contrast to the United Nations definition of a “normal” (everybody else) "refugee" which is as follows: "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

Ask yourself why?

Don't take my word for it. Check the facts yourself.

Margo Upson

Margo Upson


With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
Learn more
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