The culture of Palestine is comprised
of a blend of Eastern Mediterranean influences. Being Levantines, Palestinians
share commonalities with nearby Levantine Arabs (Lebanese, Syrians, and
Jordanians). Palestinians, although Arabized today, are genetically an
indigenous Semitic (non-Arab) people which descended from the native
Canaanites/Phoenicians and thereby mixed with their conquerors (Philistines,
Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Arabs,
Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks).
Over half of Palestinians are in Diaspora, and found outside of Palestine. The
population of Jordan is 2/3 of Palestinian heritage. Most Palestinian refugees
can be found other Middle Eastern countries, and North and South America. Many
are also in Europe.
Language: Arabic (official), Aramaic, Hebrew, and Armenian. Most
Palestinians speak Levantine Arabic, a dialect of Arabic spoken in Syria,
Palestine, western Jordan and Lebanon. Palestinian rural dialects exhibit
several distinctive features (particularly the pronunciation of qaaf as kaaf)
which distinguish them from other Arabic varieties, but Palestinian urban
dialects more closely resemble northern Levantine dialects, i.e., those of Syria
The Bedouins of Palestine, however, are more securely known to be Arab by
ancestry as well as by culture; their distinctively conservative dialects and
pronunciation of qaaf as gaaf group them with other Bedouin across the Arab
world and confirm their separate history. In a number of villages in the Galilee
(e.g. Maghar), and particularly, though not exclusively among the Druze, the qāf
is actually pronounced qaaf as in Classical Arabic.
Religion: Currently, no reliable data are available for the worldwide
Palestinian population. But an estimated percentage suggests 60% Muslim (mainly
Sunni, but also a few Sufis), 30% Christian (predominantly Greek Orthodox, Roman
Catholic, and others) and 10% Other (i.e. Druze, Baha'i, Jewish, Samaritan,
etc). However, within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian
Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, the (non-Jewish)
Palestinian population is 97% Muslim and 3% Christian; there are also about 350
Samaritans and a few thousand Jews.