Coordinates: 31 25 N 34 20 E
Area: 139 square miles (360 sq km)
Occupied by Israel since 1967 and frequently in the news as a contested piece of territory, the Gaza Strip appeared in headlines again this month because, quite frankly, nothing has happened. At least nothing related to the treatment and disposal of the waste created by the area’s 1.5 million inhabitants. The situation has been steadily worsening in recent years, and current fuel shortages have exacerbated the problem. Without the ability to handle the sewage, millions of gallons of contaminated water are emptying from this relatively flat coastal plain into the Mediterranean Sea on a daily basis. This unfortunate reality has led the World Health Organization to advise beachgoers to avoid swimming this summer due to extremely dangerous levels of bacteria. Northward-flowing currents also carry toxic waste further up the coast, imperiling the health of many more people.