Ramallah, widely accepted as Palestine’s summer getaway spot, is located on top of a hill in the center of the West Bank, 16 kilometers away from Jerusalem city, 67 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, and 52 kilometers from the Dead Sea. The governorate stands on855 square kilometers, almost one sixth of the West Bank total area, and 830-880 meters above sea level.
The city’s original residents practiced varioustechniques since ancient times, including agriculture and quarries and livestock, where they planted olives, figs, almonds, grapes, etc., as the cityenjoys a moderate climate and used to have large amounts of rainfall and many water springs. In addition, its centered location helped its residents to work in trade with other cities and neighboring villages. They also worked in traditional manufacturing and crafts, such as shoe and clothes manufacturing, food processingand pottery. This continued until the early twentieth century, where many residents started migrating to the United States and pouring money into the city to invest in purchasing land and building real estate. After the war in 1948, most of the residents immigrated to the United States, while only about 12% of them stayed in the city.
There are currently many important economic activities in Ramallah, including:
1. Tourism (hotels and parks): There are many famous hotels in Ramallah, ranging from old local hotels such as Alhambra Palace Hotel, to modern and international hotels such as the Movenpick Hotel and the Grand Park Hotel. Parks include Al-Muntaza Park, which is connected to the Ramallah Municipality, Al-Bayyara Parks, and Ein Kenya Nature Reserve.
2. Industry: There are many industries in Ramallah, such as paper and cardboard-making and furniture manufacture. Food production includes olives, olive oil, pickled vegetables, fruits (fresh and dried), as well as natural herbs and spices.Soap, aluminum, and medicinal drugs are also locally produced.
3. Cultural Activity: Ramallah is considered the cultural center in the West Bank, as it is filled with theaters, cinemas and a wide range of local and international cultural centers and forums. These range from the Ramallah Cultural Palace and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, to the Franco-German Cultural Center (Goethe Institut) and the Mahmoud Darwish Museum.
Due to its liveliness and physical location in the middle of the country, Ramallah often houses the headquarters of many companies and organizations, such as insurance companies, telecommunications companies, and local and international NGOs. Ramallah accommodates the head offices of 15 of the 21 regional, national and international banks that operate in Palestine, according to the Palestinian Monetary Authority.
Almost all city residents have 24-hour access to electricity and indoor plumbing/water. Ramallah has an advanced wastewater treatment plant, in addition to a 100% coverage rate of solid-waste services.Ramallah also boasts the lowest percentage of informal housing areaswith the highest number and concentration of privately-owned villas. In 2012, Ramallah witnessed the highest number of new registered road vehicles (4,778) including 3,493 private cars, 688 trucks and commercial cars and 416 taxis.
Ramallah also possesses the highest availability of services, such as banking and financial services, telecommunications and internet services, and sufficient health facilities. Ramallah encompasses eight of the twenty-nine West Bank hospitals, with the remainder mainly located in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus.
According to 2013 PCBS projected population, Ramallah and Al-Bireh governoratehost 333,597residents (7.4% of Palestine’s total population), with a labor force participation rate of 43.8%. Ramallah’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in Palestine (16.3%) for both males (15.8%) and females (18%). About three quarters (72.3%) of the employed persons are wage employees, while the rest are either employer (7.4%), self employed (17.5%) or unpaid family members (2.8%). There are 34,900 employees in the private sector in Ramallah, divided between 27,300 males and 7,600 females.
The average daily wage in Ramallah (102.3 ILS) is also among the highest in Palestine in comparison with other governorates such as Nablus (84.0 ILS), Hebron (82.6 ILS) and Jerusalem (105.7 ILS).
The last PCBS housing census of 2007 shows that there are 49,637 occupied housing units in Ramallah, about 12% of the West Bank housing units, with an increase of 44.9% from 1997 census. It also shows that 35.4% of the housing units are houses, 60.1% are apartments and 2.7% are villas. Exactly three quarters of the housing units are owned and 15.7% are rented. On average, there are 4 rooms in each housing unit and 1.3 persons per room. In reference to PCBS’s latest publication on land use in 2011, there are 46.52 km2 of built-up land and 77 km2 of cultivated land in Ramallah. Almost all housing units in Ramallah have access to water and electricity. Additionally,according to survey conduction by MAS in the first quarter of 2014, the average housing unit per square meter selling price in Ramallah is around $700.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, 220 building licenses were issued, 193 residential buildings and 27 non-residential buildings. The total licensed area during the same period was 182,600 m2, 128.3m2 residential and 54.3m2 non-residential. The number of licensed residential dwellings was 601 units with a total area of 108,600 m2.
Ramallah hosts 13,819 operating establishments including the highest number of international organizations (43), NGO’s (487) and private foreign establishments (93) in comparison to other Palestinian governorates. In addition, Ramallah also hosts the highest number private shareholding companies (733), public shareholding companies (101), associations and charities (433) and foreign company branches (17).