The last century
When in 1918 Nazareth was taken by British troops led by General Allenby, there was a population of around 8000, of which two thirds were Christian divided into Greek Orthodox, Melkites, Maronites and Latin. The English brought a fair amount of freedom and safety to the village and Nazareth experienced a new era that was prosperous like never before, becoming the administrative centre of Galilee. By the end of the period(1948) the number of inhabitants had more than doubled to around 18,000.
At the end of the mandate, there were 100,000 Christians in Palestine: around 10,000 of these were residing in Nazareth. 85% of the Palestinian Christians were in fact living in the north, divided in 24 groups of different names. 60% lived in urban centres such as Nazareth and Haifa and the rest were spread throughout the villages of Galilee. During the mandate, Nazareth saw different charitable, social and political activities flourish, supported by the various churches.
After the establishment of the state of Israel, in 1948, to which the first Arab-Israeli war was followed, the city became part of the new state. It was not simple for the local churches, made up of followers of Arab ethnicity in contrast with Jewish ones, the passage to the new Israeli state.
The wars for Israeli independence greatly changed the distribution of Arabs throughout the territory: at the end of the war, around 12,000 were evacuated from the Palestine Muslim villages, the presence of which provoked a sudden overturning of the percentages that continued over the years until the recording in the last decade of the twentieth century, of a presence of Muslims amounting to 70% of the entire population of Nazareth.
At the beginning of the 1960s in Nazareth there were just less than 60,000 inhabitants; after another fifty years the population had grown considerably, arriving at almost 307,000 in 2012. However, there is a fact that sets the town apart from the others in the North District, in that only 21.5% of the total population is of Jewish ethnicity.
In fact, for the rest of the district, the estimations of the Central Israeli Office for Statistics are very different: out of a population of 1,304,000 inhabitants, around 53% are Arabs, 44% are Jews and 3% from other ethnicities (2012 data). Therefore Nazareth confirms its persistent Arab physiognomy.
In 1957, a residential district emerged with a Jewish majority in the upper part of Nazareth known as Nazareth Illit ("Upper Nazareth") where the Palace of Justice and the Supreme Court of Justice and the Town Hall are located.
Moreover, in the last ten years the city has extended further onto the hills that surround it due to the construction of new residential areas where Arab families in particular reside.
Nevertheless, the town is still identified by the impressive new Basilica of the Annunciation that currently attracts millions of local and foreign pilgrims every year. The Basilica was inaugurated in 1969 on the architectural project of Giovanni Muzio.
Now the Latin parish church has around 5,000 followers and is one of the most dynamic communities of the Holy Land.
The story of Nazareth
The Byzantine Era
The Crusader Period
The Ottoman Age