Gaza (Arabic: غزة Ġazzah, ), also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories. Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC, Gaza has been dominated by several different peoples and empires throughout its history. The Philistines made it a part of their pentapolis after the Ancient Egyptians had ruled it for nearly 350 years. Under the Romans and later the Byzantines, Gaza experienced relative peace and its port flourished. In 635 AD, it became the first city in Palestine to be conquered by the Rashidun army and quickly developed into a centre of Islamic law. However, by the time the Crusaders invaded the city in the late 11th century, it was in ruins. In later centuries, Gaza experienced several hardships—from Mongol raids to floods and locusts, reducing it to a village by the 16th century, when it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. During the first half of Ottoman rule, the Ridwan dynasty controlled Gaza and under them the city went through an age of great commerce and peace.
Gaza fell to British forces during World War I, becoming a part of the British Mandate of Palestine. As a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt administered the newly formed Gaza Strip territory and several improvements were undertaken in the city. Gaza was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, but in 1993, the city was transferred to the Palestinian National Authority. Following the 2006 election, conflict broke out as the Fatah party seemed unwilling to transfer power to Hamas, resulting in Hamas taking power in Gaza by force. Egypt and Israel imposed a Blockade of the Gaza Strip following the 2006 Hamas cross-border raid. Israel eased the blockade allowing consumer goods in June 2010, and Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing in 2011 to pedestrians.
The primary economic activities of Gaza are small-scale industries, agriculture and labor. However, the economy has been devastated by the blockade and recurring conflicts. Most of Gaza's inhabitants are Muslim, although there is a Christian minority. Gaza has a very young population with roughly 75% under the age of 25. It has one of the highest population densities in the world.
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