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Nablus is a city in the northern West Bank, approximately 49 kilometers (30 mi) north of Jerusalem, (approximately 63 kilometers (39 mi) by road), with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.

Founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian in 72 CE as Flavia Neapolis, Nablus has been ruled by many empires over the course of its almost 2,000-year-long history. In the 5th and 6th centuries, conflict between the city's Christian and Samaritan inhabitants climaxed in a series of Samaritan revolts against Byzantinerule, before their violent quelling in 529 CE drastically dwindled that community's numbers in the city. In 636,Neapolis, along with most of Palestine, came under the rule of the Islamic Arab Caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab; its name Arabicized to Nablus. In 1099, the Crusaders took control of the city for less than a century, leaving its mixed Muslim, Christian and Samaritan population relatively undisturbed. After Saladin'sAyyubid forces took control of the interior of Palestine in 1187, Islamic rule was reestablished, and continued under the Mamluk and Ottoman empires to follow.

Following its incorporation into the Ottoman empire in 1517, Nablus was designated capital of the Jabal Nablus ("Mount Nablus") district. In 1657, after a series of upheavals, a number of Arab clans from the northern and eastern Levant were dispatched to the city to reassert Ottoman authority, and loyalty from among these clans staved off challenges to the empire's authority by rival regional leaders, like Daher el-Omar in the 18th century, and Muhammad Ali—who briefly ruled Nablus—in the 19th century. When Ottoman rule was firmly reestablished in 1841, Nablus prospered as a center of trade.


Early Islamic era

Minaret and entrance of 10th century Great Mosque of Nablus, 1908




According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), in 1997, 44,926 were enrolled in schools (41.2% in primary school, 36.2% in secondary school, and 22.6% in high school). About 19.8% of high school students received bachelor diplomas or higher diplomas. In 2006, there were 234 schools and 93,925 students in theNablus Governorate; 196 schools are run the by Education Ministry of the Palestinian National Authority, 14 by theUnited Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and 24 are private schools.

Nablus is also home to an-Najah National University, the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank. Founded in 1918 by the an-Najah Nabulsi School, it became a college in 1941 and a university in 1977. An-Najah was closed down by Israeli authorities during the First Intifada, but reopened in 1991. Today, the university has three campuses in Nablus with over 16,500 students and 300 professors. The university's faculties include seven in thehumanities and nine in the sciences.