Palestine is vibrant nation with a rich cultural history that is unfortunately known more for conflicts with colonisers than its individual culture. Here are some facts about the Middle Eastern state.
The history of Palestine
- The etymology of Palestine is worthy of two Wikipedia pages outside the state’s main one. But its earliest name was Peleset, as displayed at Medinet Habu in as early as 1150 BC. There are suggestions that the term “Palestine” was coined by the Ancient Greeks to describe land occupied by the Philistines, but that’s one claim of many.
- Palestine’s name in Arabic is دولة فلسطين (Dawlat Filasṭīn)
- The Palestinian flag features three horizontal stripes of black, white, and green with a red triangle on the left side pointing right. These three colours are the Pan-Arab colors and represent the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people, as first adopted in 1964 by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
- Palestine doesn’t have an official motto but its popular political slogan is “From the river to the sea”.
- Palestine is officially a “non-member observer state” and is “recognised” by 139 of the 193 UN members.
- If you combined the areas claimed by the State of Palestine into a single country, it would make Palestine the world’s 163rd largest country by land area.
- The capital of Palestine is Gaza City.
- The national language of Palestine is Arabic but it does not have an official language (although English is classed as de facto)
- Palestine has an estimated population of about 5,483,450 million people (as of 2023)
- Palestine uses three forms of currency: the Egyptian pound, the Israeli new shekel, and the Jordanian dinar.
- The average life expectancy in Palestine is about 74.40 years (as of 2020, according to World Bank)
- The Palestinian economy is the world’s 121st-largest by total nominal terms, and the 138th-largest by PPP.
- Palestinians drive on the right-hand side.
Food and drink
- Palestine is the fifth-largest exporter of wine in world, sending at least 800 million litres a year across the globe (source)
- Palestinian cuisine has a rich past, incorporating many dishes from around the Middle East. The national dish is musakhan (مسخّن), made of
roasted chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron, and fried pine nuts served over taboon bread
- Coffee and tea are the traditional beverages of choice for adults at gatherings and refreshing homemade fruit juices for children. The coffee is
normally spiced with cardamom and unsweetenedwhile the tea is black and incorporates sage or other herbs.
- There isn’t a definitive age on when you can drink or buy alcohol. Wikipedia’s source claims 16, while other sites say 18 (which is especially true for any Israeli-occupied areas).
- Palestine has been home to many famous writers, including Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008), Mourid Barghouti, (1944–2021), Hala Alyan, Ghassan Kanafani, (1936–1972), Susan Abulhawa, and Selma Dabbagh amongst others.
- GQ wrote a piece on five Palestinian artists you need to know about in 2021, including Malak Mattar and Sarah Bahbah. You should also check out Rami Afifi and Rasha Eleyan who we’ve featured on Cultrface!
- The literacy rate in Palestine is 97.51% (source)
- Soccer is said to be Palestine’s national sport, with the men’s national team having ranked as high as 73rd in the FIFA World Rankings in 2018.
- While they have never qualified for a FIFA World Cup, they have qualifed twice for the AFC Asian Cup and won the AFC Challenge Cup in 2014
- Palestine first competed at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta 1996 and at Tokyo 2020, they sent 5 athletes to the Games: 1 in the athletics, 1 in judo, 2 in swimming, and 1 in weightlifting
- The Palestine Marathon is an annual road running event, held in Bethlehem, Palestine. It was held ever year since 2013 but it hasn’t taken place since 2019, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts with Israel.
Nature and geography
- The highest mountain of all the Palestinian territories is Mount Nabi Yunis (1,030m/3,380ft).
- Palestine is home to 551 species of bird, 130 species of mammal, 97 species of reptile, and over 13,000 invertebrates (source)
- The gazelle is Palestine’s national animal
- The national flower of Palestine is the Faqqua iris.
- Although alive elsewhere, a variety of animals are locally extinct in Palestinian territories including the cheetahs, roe deer, lions, leopards, and brown bears.
- Palestine is extremely vulnerable to climate change due to air pollution from harmful chemical substances released into the air through emissions and the warfare byproducts, and a climatic zone that is
characterized by a hot, arid, and water-scarce region that has experienced an increase in temperatures over the past fifty years.
Bonus fact: Palestine should be free!