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City of Tulkarm, Palestine
Official flag of City of Tulkarm, Palestine Official seal of City of Tulkarm, Palestine
City flag City seal
City nickname: "City of Generosity"
Location of City of Tulkarm, Palestine
Location in Palestine
Neighbourhoods Al-Salam, Al-Sowana, Dhinnaba, Iktaba, Irtah, Iskan Al-Mozafeen, 'Izbat Al-Jarad, 'Izbat Naser, Nur Shams Camp, Shuwaykah, Tulkarm Camp
Mayor Mahmoud Al-Jallad
Physical characteristics
246 km²
     246 km²
     0 km²
     Total (2005)
Latitude 32°31' N
Longitude 35°02' W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
Official website: City of Tulkarm

Tulkarm or Tulkarem (Arabic طولكرم Ṭūlkarm; Standard Hebrew טולכרם) is a Palestinian city in the West Bank.

The original name is (Tur Karem) which means “the mountain of generosity”, and that is because of the fertility of the land and its resources. The city had been known by this name till the eighteenth century AD when it was altered to Tulkarm as it is known nowadays.

The city is situated on the eastern part and in the middle of the Palestinian Coastal plain, at a distance of 15 km from the seashore where the plain meets with the mountains of Nablus. This central location between the plain and the mountain has given it a commercial and military importance and is of a great effect on its growth. In the past, it was a station for the commercial caravans and a market containing the products of the mountain and the plain. It was a crossing point from which armies crossed to Egypt and the Levant (Al-Sham). Tulkarm is linked by paved roads with surrounding cities, such as Nablus, Jenin and Qalqilyah. And two railways reached it; one of them was an extension of the long east railway that ended in Cairo, and the second one was a branch of the narrow Hejaz railway that connected Tulkarm to Damascus.



Tulkarm district is located in the north western part of the West Bank(palestien). It is bounded by the Jenin and Nablus districts in the north, east and south and by the 1948 cease-fire line in the west. The district lies between 40 to 500 m above sea level and is entirely within a fertile zone. This explains the regional high population density in comparison with other districts. Population density in the Tulkarm district is about 583 person/km² while in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem districts it is 209, 245 and 230 person/km² respectively.

Tulkarm is the largest city in the district and lies at one of the most accessible gateways from the Tulkarm plain to the Nablus hills. It is located at the intersection of the north-south arteries of the Haifa-Lod railroad and motor road, both running along the western edge of the hills with the west-east highway leading from the coast to Nablus. The rich farmlands of the surrounding area have contributed to its development.

Archeological finds reveal that an agglomeration has existed here at least since the Roman Period. Tulkarm's name has its roots in the Aramaic Tur Karma (Vine- yard Hill), which was used by the Samaritan inhabitants of the Middle Ages and by the Crusaders. In the past, Tulkarm has assumed the form of a small village but it has been expanding since the beginning of the 20th century with an increase in the traffic passing through. This development came to a halt in the 1930's with the construction of the Petah Tiqva -Hadera highway, which bypasses the town in the west. Despite the fact that Israel-Jordan armistice border of 1949 encircled Tulkarm in the southwest, west and north-west, the town population has increased considerably and became an administrative center while farming in its surroundings has intensified. The town has an agricultural school established since the British Mandatory Government with a monetary contribution by the philanthropist J.S. Kadoorie. Nowadays, it is recognized as a prominent community college in agriculture and training of teachers.

Land use

Tulkarm was built over a relatively higher area than that surrounding it. The choice of the location was at the bottom of the mountainous heights so as to make it possible to defend the city, provide the stones for the construction and keep the buildings away from the plainland suitable for agriculture. The land which was formed as a result of the new fourth epoch consists mostly of creeping sands from the west to the east. The mountainous valleys, extending from the Mediterranean in the west to Tulkarm’s lands, carry to them (Tulkarm’s lands) – in the seasons of the heavy rain and floods – quantities of the Alluvium and the gravel precipitating over the lands and thus renewing them. A fertile soil is formed as a result of mixing the sands with the precipitations of the Alluvium. And Tulkarm lands, in addition to this, is rich in their underground water. So, wells tend to increase and springs flow from the points where the plain meets with mountain.

Tulkarm is recognized by its moderate climate as a result of the breeze of the sea which blows and, thus, eases the severity of the temperature. The average of the temperature doesn’t exceed 27 C in August which is the month of high temperatures. In winter, the area surrounding the sea becomes soft by the coldness. So, the average of temperature doesn’t decrease below 13.5 C in February. And the degree of humidity is moderate in summer, about 40-70%, but it rises in winter between 70-85%. The rain in Tulkarm is abundant, suitable for successful agriculture and replenishes the underground reserves. The average of the quantity of rain exceeds 550 mm yearly. The rain in Tulkarm, like the rains of the Mediterranean basin, tend to be un-concentrated and irregular.

Land designations in the West Bank are defined by the recent "Oslo II" interim agreement and the functional land use required for the Palestinian community and the Israelis who still occupy and control a large area in the West Bank. Land availability determines the Palestinians' potential to sustain the development of their community. The "Oslo II" interim agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis has divided the West Bank land into three areas, A, B and C, which are differentiated by different levels of control by the Palestinians. Accordingly, the populated Palestinian cities representing 2.75% of the total area of the West Bank (159.9245 km²), are completely under Palestinian control (Area A). Hebron City is still occupied by Israel and the Israeli redeployment faces difficulties imposed by the Israeli governments. Area B, which includes most Palestinian villages and small towns, covers 22.91% of the total area of the West Bank (1334.072 km²). Palestinians now have full control of civil administrations except that Israel continues to have overriding responsibility for security. Area C covers the remaining land (74.34%), including some Palestinian built-up areas as well as Israeli settlements and military outposts (4327.9488 km²). In this area, Palestinians have responsibility for civil life such as economy, health and education, however, Israel retains control over security and power related to territory. During the further redeployment phases, powers and responsibilities in Area C will be gradually transferred to the Palestinians, the transfer to be completed within 18 months of the inauguration of the Palestinian Council. However, the recent changes in political leadership in Israel delayed further Israeli redeployment in the West Bank. Presently, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is not able to assume complete sovereignty over Palestinian land, and the division of the Palestinian territories into A, B and C hinders the potentials of dealing with the Palestinian areas as a whole geographic integrity as an essential ingredient for sound environmental management. The Tulkarm district covers approximately 334.53 km², comprising 5.7% of the West Bank and 5.4% of Palestine (Gaza Strip and West Bank). Currently, only 5.39% of the Tulkarm district contains Palestinian built-up areas, while approximately 2.73% is taken up by Israeli settlements, nature reserves, forests and military bases. The Tulkarm district area is divided by the "Oslo II" interim agreement as follows: Area A, which includes Tulkarm and Qalqiliya cities in addition to Tulkarm Refugee Camp, covers 10.155 km² (3.0%) of the district's land. Since October 1995, the Israeli army has withdrawn from this area, and all responsibilities for internal security and public order are presently held by Palestinians.

Israeli settlements

There are three Israeli settlements in the Tulkarm district. Avne Hafez, Saltt, E'nav are Israeli settlements distributed over the entire district. During the past two years, there has been a gradual and progressive expansion in the Israeli settlements. Israeli settlements have been established near Tulkarm, partly through land confiscation [1].

Nature reserves

Experience has shown that many stretches of land which are confiscated for nature reserves became with time Israeli colonies. Hence, there is a serious doubt about the true environmental significance of the currently declared nature reserves. Currently, Israel has declared one nature reserve in the Tulkarm district with a total area of almost 1.735 km² (0.52% of the Tulkarm district area).


There are six forests in the district, with a total area of about 4.146 km² (1.24% of the total area). Most of these forests are located on fertile soil types (terra rossa, brown rendzinas and pale rendzinas).


At the end of the British mandate, the Tulkarm district was composed of 77 villages in addition to the cities of Tulkarm and Qalqiliya (Encyclopedia Palestina, 1984). The total area of the Tulkarm district under the British Mandate was about 835.361 km², but this area was reduced to 333 km² when the Israeli army occupied a large part of the area during the 1948 war and incorporated it in Israel. In 1945, the total estimated population of the Tulkarm district was 86,140; however, the 1961 statistics show a decline to 83,600. This decline is due to the shrinking of the Tulkarm district's area and the high number of inhabitants who were forced to leave during the 1948 Arab Israeli-war (Encyclopedia Palestina, 1984). The current population of the Tulkarm district is estimated at 162,936 people including the two refugee camps, Tulkarm and Nur Shams, representing 12.4% of the total population of the West Bank. The number of people living in the rural areas is representing 52.8% of the total population of the Tulkarm district. Approximately 20,778 people live in refugee camps, 54,281 live in urban areas.


The climate of Tulkarm is subtropical, with rainfall limited to the winter. The average temperature in the winter ranges from 8 to 16 °C, while the average temperature in the summer ranges from 17 to 30 °C.


The rainy season in the Tulkarm district usually starts in October and continues through May. Between December and February, almost 70% of annual rainfall occurs, while 20% of annual rainfall occurs in October and November. December and January are normally the wettest months in the Tulkarm district. Rain in June and September is rare and comes to negligible amounts. July and August have no rain at all, except for one rainfall of 1.5 mm on July 10, 1995 in Tulkarm City (Tulkarm Agricultural Department).

The mean annual rainfall in the Tulkarm City is 642 mm for the period from 1952 to 1995 (Tulkarm Agricultural Department).

The amount of mean annual rainfall in the Tulkarm district varies from year to year and rain may fall with great intensity in wet years.

There is no available data on a hail in the Tulkarm district, but hail associated with thunderstorms can occur in Tulkarm district, mostly in midwinter. This hail is liable to cause damage principally to vegetables and ripening oranges (Orni, E. 1980).


There is no available data on the amount of dew fall in the Tulkarm district. It is known, however, that dew is greater in the west, closer to the sea especially on windless nights when the soil grows colder than the air that touches its surface. In general, the coastal plain of Israel has an average of 200 nights of dew per year and the total annual dew fall in the region is estimated at 30 mm (Orni, E. 1980).


Humidity in the Tulkarm district reaches high values with an annual average of 69.6%. In winter, this value increases to an average of 75.9% in February while in May it reaches its lowest value of 62.4%. Summer months are humid with an average humidity of 70.3% from June to August.


The mean annual maximum temperature for the Tulkarm district is 22.3C and the mean annual minimum is 15.6C. Exposure to marine influences mitigates the temperature in the summer months especially at midday. The mean temperature from June to August is 25C. This value increases to an average of 26.2C in August (the hottest month). From 1992 until 1996, the highest maximum temperature measured was 41.4 °C at 2 pm on May 12, 1996. In winter, the area is influenced by warm air from the sea. The average temperature from December to February is 11.8C. The coldest days of the year come in January with an average of 11C.


In the Tulkarm district, the wind direction mainly lies between the southwest and northwest with mean annual wind speed of 3.4 km/h. In winter, the district is influenced by the depressions passing from west to east over the Mediterranean. These depressions bring westerly rain bearing winds. The average wind speed from December to February is 4.1 km/h. In summer, the district is influenced by the sea breeze that comes from the west. The incoming sea breeze usually begins to be felt in the Tulkarm district in the morning. Towards noon, winds change their direction to southeast and later in the evening they turn to south and southwest. The average wind speed from June to August is 2.85 km/h. In September and October, winds are more northerly with an average wind speed of 2.78 km/h. In spring, Khamaseen winds may blow over the area full of sand and dust. These winds cause rising temperatures and drop in humidity. The mean daily wind speed from April to June is 3.2 km/h.


Roads in this district are classified into three categories, the first type is the solid surfaced roads with two lanes which connect Tulkarm and Qalqiliya cities with other districts. The second one is the one-lane solid surfaced roads which connect most of the rural communities. The third type is the unpaved roads in the rural areas. It should be mentioned here that most of the roads in the Tulkarm district lack the basic safety requirements. Transportation services available in the Tulkarm district comprise public buses and taxis in addition to private vehicles. However, due to insufficiency of organized public transportation system, it is noticed that a high percentage of private vehicles are being used by their owners to transport passengers between communities. This kind of transportation is dangerous due to lack of safety requirements and because all drivers working in these cars are not qualified to work in public transportation cars. Added to this is the lack of insurance and licensing in most of these cars, which makes such a kind of transportation risky.

Nearly 21% of the population in the Tulkarm district have access to a limited number of lever-turned telephones in rural areas and 27% of the population have access to automatic switch boards. Hence it is concluded that 52% of the total population in this district are deprived of telephone services (Barghouthi and Daibes,1993).


Everyone speaks Arabic; however English is widely spoken as a second language.


Tulkarm produces Citrus Fruits, Melons, Olives, Olive Oil, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Wheat, Sesame, peanut, Egg Plant, Chilly Pepper, Green Beans, Guava.


There is a two-year college at Tulkarm called the Khodori Institute, in addition to four high schools, two for girls and two for boys.


Tukarm has three private television stations; Al-Salam, Al-Fajir Al-Jadied and Al-Bilad.


Tulkarm has 2 semi-professional soccer teams; one is called Markez Shabab Tulkarm and the other is called Thaqafi Tulkarm. Both are in The Palestinian League Division One and both are usually on top or near the top of the standings.

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