The Gaza Strip is a narrow coastal strip of land that runs along the Mediterranean Sea. With a population fo 1.4 million, almost all Palestinians, in an area of only 139 square miles, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and has been littered with refugee camps. The strip takes its name from Gaza, the main city.
Historically the Gaza Strip was part of the land controlled by ancient Israel after the removal of the Philistines. An Islamic area since the Islamic conquest of the 7th century, it was controlled by the British after World War I and was to be a part of an independent Palestinian state in 1948 based upon a UN partition, but the first Arab-Israeli War saw Israel take most of the region that would have made the Arab state and Egypt absorbed the Gaza Strip, which overflowed with refugees from the war. In 1967 Israel overran the area in the Six Day War and administered the region. They built settlements, but these never attracted many people and only 10,000 Israelis lived there by 2005 among the Palestinians. The Israeli government withdrew, with strong objections from the settlers, leaving the area under the control of the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, Hamas overran the Palestinian authority and took defacto control for themselves.
A very poor and desolate area, the residents of the area live in poverty and squalor. The Strip is not self sufficient and counts on outside aid. There is continued friction with Israel with home made rockets being fired by the Gaza residents and occasional open fighting. Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist. The Strip has been the source of many suicide missions against Israel as well Kasam rocket fire against the settlements and towns of southern Israel.
Israel controls the Gaza strip’s airspace and offshore maritime access.