Palestine is among the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. Most of its people today are Arab Sunni Muslims, but a tiny fraction of the population — just half of 1 percent of the Gaza Strip and a little more than 2 percent on the West Bank — calls itself Christian.
The impact of Christian emigration — owing to war and civil unrest, discrimination, the Israeli military occupation or a desire to pursue a better quality of life — has been dramatic. The number of Christians continues to dwindle, with many moving to Canada, Oceania or South America. The Christian population has also declined because Muslim Palestinians generally have a higher birth rate.
Church leaders continue to worry that the Palestinian church will be reduced to empty shrines for occasional tourists and pilgrims, and a few charitable institutions caring for the poor and needy.