Faith by Numbers: Christians in the Holy Land

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Here is a breakdown of the main Christian communities in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan ahead of a visit by Pope Francis, global head of the Roman Catholic Church. 


According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 160,000 Christians living in Israel, nearly 80 percent of whom belong to its Arab minority.

The remainder are non-Arab Christians with Israeli citizenship, most of whom emigrated from the former Soviet Union by virtue of Jewish ancestry or Jewish spouses. 

Just over half of the Christians define themselves as Catholic -- with 50,000 of them Melkite, or Greek Catholic, another 24,000 Roman Catholics and 11,400 Maronites.

In addition, there are some 60,000 migrant workers living in Israel who define themselves as Roman Catholics.

In 2013, tourism ministry figures show there were approximately one million visitors to Israel who defined themselves as Christian pilgrims.

Palestinian territories

In the West Bank and east Jerusalem, there are approximately 50,000 Christians, more than half of whom are Greek Orthodox. Most of the Christians live in or around the cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The Catholic community counts 22,500 souls, among them 17,850 Roman Catholics and 4,650 Melkites.

The number of Christians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has plummeted due to persecution since the Islamist movement seized power in 2007, notably by radical Salafist groups. 

Figures show there are 1,500 Christians living in Gaza, the vast majority of them Greek Orthodox. Of that number, only around 130 are Roman Catholics. 


Jordan is home to 255,000 Christians, with around 45 percent of the community Catholic and the rest Eastern Orthodox. The number includes migrant workers and Syrian refugees. 

Figures provided by the Latin Patriarchate show there are around 80,000 Latin and 32,000 Greek Catholics, as well as small communities of Maronites, Armenian Catholics, Syrian Catholics and thousands of Chaldeans from Iraq.

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