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Bir Zeit
Bir Zeit is located in the Palestinian territories
Bir Zeit
Arabic بيرزيت
Name meaning "Well of [olive] oil"
Governorate Ramallah & al-Bireh
Government Municipality
Coordinates 31°58′19.57″N 35°11′44.20″E / 31.9721028°N 35.195611°E / 31.9721028; 35.195611Coordinates: 31°58′19.57″N 35°11′44.20″E / 31.9721028°N 35.195611°E / 31.9721028; 35.195611
Population 4,529 (2006)
Jurisdiction

14,077  dunams (14.0 km²)

Head of Municipality Yousef Nasser

Bir Zeit (Arabic: بيرزيت‎) is a Palestinian town on the outskirts of Ramallah in the central West Bank. The town had a population of 4,529 in the 2007 census by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).[1]

The name Bir Zeit literally translates to "well of oil"; referring to the wells in which its inhabitants historically stored virgin-pressed olive oil. The topology of the town consists of hills and sloping terrains with its highest point known by locals as "al-Khirbeh", or "the ruin". Much of the surrounding land consists of olive trees which historically was a source of sustenance for what was primarily an agrarian society.

Today, Bir Zeit (also written as Birzeit) is a college town known for the flagship of Palestinian institutions, Birzeit University. Much of its economy tied to the student population of the University. Several surrounding villages depend on Birzeit's economy; particularly during the latest round of road closures imposed by Israel. This has led to a business expansion within the town consisting of several restaurants, cafes, internet cafes, and salons.

Everyday life in Bir Zeit town and the local university are described by Irish journalist David Lynch in his book, A Divided Paradise: An Irishman in the Holy Land (New Island, Jan 2009).[2] Lynch spent the summer of 2005 living in the town, and studying in the local university and writes about his experiences there.

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