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Ramla (Hebrew רמלה Ramlāh; Arabic الرملة ar-Ramlah, colloquial Ramleh), is a city in the Center District of Israel in Israel. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), at the end of 2001 the city had a total population of 62,000.
According to CBS, in 2001 the ethnic makeup of the city was 80% Jewish and other non-Arab, and 20% Arab (16% Muslim and 4% Christian). There were 500 immigrant settlers. See Population groups in Israel.
According to CBS, in 2001 there were 32,000 males and 30,000 females. The population of the city was spread out with 36% 19 years of age or younger, 18% between 20 and 29, 19% between 30 and 44, 15% from 45 to 59, 3% from 60 to 64, and 9% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 1.0%.
According to CBS, as of 2000, in the city there were 21,000 salaried workers and 1,700 are self-employed. The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker in the city is ILS 4,300, a real change of 4.4% over the course of 2000. Salaried males have a mean monthly wage of ILS 5,200 (a real change of 3.3%) versus ILS 3,300 for females (a real change of 6.3%). The mean income for the self-employed is 4,900. There are 1,100 people who receive unemployment benefits and 5,600 people who receive an income guarantee.
According to CBS, there are 31 schools and 12,000 students in the city. They are spread out as 22 elementary schools and 7,700 elementary school students, and 9 high schools and 3,800 high school students. 47% of 12th grade students were entitled to a matriculation certificate in 2001.
According to the 9th century Arab geographer Ya'kubi, ar-Ramlah (Ramle) was founded in 716 by the Khalifa Sulaimen, with an initial population of persons moved from Ludd (Lydda, Lod). Ramle flourished as the capital of Jund Filastin, which was one of the five districts of the ash-Sham (Syrian) province of the Arab-Muslim empire. Later the capital moved to Jerusalem and Ramle lost its political importance while remaining a major town. Its economic importance, shared with its near-neighbor Lydda, was based on its location at the intersection of Palestine's two major roads, one linking Egypt with Syria and the other linking Jerusalem with the coast. After the First Crusade Ramle became the seat of a seigneury in the Kingdom of Jerusalem (see also Vassals of the Kingdom of Jerusalem).
At the start of the Ottoman period, Ramle was described as a large town which lay mostly in ruins, with a small population. In the year 1548, it was recorded to have 528 Muslim and 82 Christian households. Not much change in this size or composition occurred until late in the 19th century, when a period of expansion began. During the British Mandate, the population grew steadily, up to about 12,000 Muslims and 3,000 Christians in 1944. Until 1948 there were very few Jewish inhabitants.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ramle's geographical location (especially its position on the main supply route to the Jerusalem region) made it an inevitable point of conflict, and it was attacked by Jewish forces beginning in May. These initial attacks were unsuccessful, but a more determined attack during Operation Dani led to Ramle's capture on July 11-12, 1948. Except for about 1,000 Arabs, mostly Christian or having prior dealings with Jews, those residents of the town who had not fled already were forcibly expelled on Ben-Gurion's orders.
The Israeli government immediately saw the nearly depopulated town as a source of housing for the many Jewish immigrants who were beginning to arrive, and started to use the abandoned Arab houses for this purpose in November 1948. By February 1949 the Jewish population had passed 6,000. Nevertheless, Ramle and Lydda (now called Ramla and Lod) remained relatively economically depressed for the next two decades. The population in 1972 was 34,000.
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