Exactly What Is The Status of The Gaza Strip?

Is it a nation, a protectorate, or what?
Do its citizens hold passports-or are they “stateless” persons?
How does the government of Gaza transact business, if they have not national status?
Finally, should Gaza declare itself a nation, what would they do for GNP? As far as i can see, they largely subsist upon international aid/welfare. Do they have any resources of any kind, or is the place one open air prison?

Gaza (along with the West Bank) is part of what the UN and the US call “the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The US and most Western nations recognize the territories as a country, but haven’t extended complete recognition as a sovereign state in all respects; most nations of Africa and Asia recognize the State of Palestine. Israel, aside from maintaining strict control over the borders, has disengaged from Gaza, but contends that the Territories as a whole are still under legitimate dispute, and therefore are not occupied sovereign territory.

The Palestinian Authority is generally recognized as the legitimate government of the West Bank and Gaza, and issues passports that are accepted as travel documents by many nations, including the US. However, Hamas maintains de facto administrative control over Gaza, and is held responsible by the US, among others, for the area and its people. Both Hamas and the PA consider themselves the legitimate government of Palestine; Gaza is by no means an independent state, though it’s not exactly politically unified with the West Bank, either.

Economically, well…the following quote from Wikipedia cites the CIA World Factbook:

I don’t know what it means to say that the US has recognised West Bank/Gaza “as a country”. Is there a legal meaning of the word “country” distinct from that of a “state”?

After following links from Wikipedia, I came across this announcement in the Federal Register from 1997: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1997-03-14/pdf/97-6434.pdf

This indicates that for customs purposes, the country designation “West Bank/Gaza” will be acceptable, whereas previously goods from those areas would have to be marked “Israel”.

If this is what you are referring to when you say that the US recognises the territories as a country, it seems like the recognition is very specific to this context.

As I understand the current status of Gaza, there are two views. Some countries regard the State of Palestine as sovereign in Gaza. For those who do not recognise the State of Palestine, Gaza is a rare case of a land without a sovereign. No countries (including Israel) regard Israel as sovereign in Gaza.