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The towns of Ramallah and al-Bireh are 16 km north of Jerusalem and 860 m above sea level. Not too long ago, they used to be two small separate villages, and build now a large city. They are quite difficult to distinguish from one another and make together a total population of over 60 000 people, one of the largest and most active Palestinian centers in the West Bank.
Ramallah – al-Bireh has long been the centre of learning and cultural activities, maybe since the American Friends (Quakers) opened their first school here in 1866. Nowadays, several higher academic institutions, cultural centers, theatres, and cinemas are to find in and around the two towns. Both towns, and especially Ramallah, are popular summer resorts. During this season they host several national and international cultural and musical festivals.
Ramallah is one of the least conservative Palestinian towns. From the beginning of this century it has become a favorite holiday destination for people from all parts of Palestine as well as neighboring Arab countries.
Visitors are entertained in Ramallah’s many fantastic restaurants, hotels and parks that serve typical Arabic and international meals and ice cream, for which Ramallahis famous. Alcoholic drinks are served as well, something that one may not find in al Bireh and other Palestinian towns. Since the hand over of the two cities to the Palestinian National Authority in December 1995, Ramallah and al-Bireh have become important political as well as administrative centers. The Palestinian Legislative Council is located here, as are the official Palestinian television and radio stations and many of the Palestinian Authority’s ministries.