|• Also spelled||Biddia (official)
|• Head of Municipality||Ramadan Shatat|
Biddya (Arabic: بديا) is a Palestinian town in the Salfit Governorate, located 32 kilometers southwest of Nablus and half that distance from Salfit in the northern West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Biddya had a population of 8,064 in 2007. The town is governed by a municipal council of eleven members who each represent the prominent families of Biddya and select a mayor.
Biddya is situated on the western ridge of the central mountain range that runs north-south in the West Bank. It has an elevation of 320 meters above sea level. The historical Nablus-Jerusalem road is nearby. A shrine for a local holy man, Sheikh Hamdan is located in the town.
The area was examined in 1873 by the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP), who gave the following description:
Rock-cut tombs exist here, principally rude caves. The rock is quarried in many places. South of the village is a birkeh (pool) about 30 feet by 20 feet, with a flight of 12 steps, leading down about 10 feet. It is made of rudely squared stones, about 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet in length, which are covered again with a well-made rubble almost resembling a tesselated pavement, and this again is covered with a soft white cement, containing large pieces of pottery and small stones. There is on each side of the pool (north and south) a semicircular stone buttress, 2 feet diameter, on a base about 4 feet; this perhaps indicates that the birkeh was roofed in. South-west of Bidieh is an ancient ruined watch-tower.
In 1596, Biddya (also, Beddia, Bedia, Bidya, Bedya, and Bidieh) appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the nahiya of Jabal Qubal in the liwa of Nablus. It had a population of 8 households and 1 bachelor, all Muslim. The villagers paid taxes on wheat, barley, summer crops, olive trees, goats and beehives.
French explorer Victor Guérin passed by Beddia in 1870, and described it as a "mountain village", apparently of "some importance". In the 1882 "Survey of Western Palestine", Bidieh was described as "a village of moderate size, the houses principally of stone. It is surrounded with beautiful groves of very fine old olives. It is evidently an ancient site. The water supply is from rock-cut cisterns."
British Mandate era
In a census conducted in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities, Biddya (called: Bedia) had a population of 792, all Muslims, while in the 1931 census Biddya (including Salita) had 245 occupied houses and a population of 1026, still all Muslim. In 1945 the population was 1,360, all Arabs, while the total land area was 13,466 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 5,088 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 2,319 for cereals, while 47 dunams were classified as built-up areas.
By mid-2012, according to Palestinian General Election Commission, Biddya's (بديا) population was 8,951 (not including expatriates).
Biddya depends primarily on olive groves for olive oil and Nabulsi soap production — the town's main industries. The town mostly receives food products from subsistence farming or local grocery markets.
Before the beginning of the Second Intifada in the fall of 2000, many residents worked in neighboring towns and cities, especially in Nablus and Ramallah, as well as for Israeli employers. The main road traversing the village, Road #505 (previously part of the Trans-Samaria Highway), was lined with many stores which served thousands of Israeli shoppers who would frequent the town each week, including residents of the Israeli settlements passing through, as well as Israelis living in the Tel Aviv area who were looking for products at low prices. Unemployment was about 20%; however, since the Intifada that figure has risen to 78-90%. Besides farming, some inhabitants live off their savings and others receive aid from relatives abroad.
Biddya has five schools — two for each gender and a private school. Most high school graduates who attend college enroll in an-Najah National University in Nablus or Bir Zeit University in Bir Zeit. There are four mosques and three health clinics in the town.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 226
- Biddya Village Profile International Women's Peace Service.
- 2007 PCBS Census Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. p. 112.
- Sharon, 1999, p. 235.
- Finkelstein, 1997, p. 270
- Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, p. 306
- Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 137.
- Guérin, 1875, p. 146
- Conder and Kitchener, 1882, SWP II, pp. 283-4
- Barron, 1923, Table IX, Sub-District of Nablus, p. 25
- Mills, 1931, p. 60
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 59
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 105
- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 155
- General Election Commission - Palestine
- Barron, J. B., ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine.
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1882). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology. 2. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Finkelstein, Israel; Lederman, Zvi, eds. (1997). Highlands of many cultures. Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University Publications Section. ISBN 965-440-007-3.
- Guérin, Victor (1875). Description Géographique, Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine. Vol 2:Samarie; pt. 2.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970). Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine. Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center.
- Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft.
- Mills, E., ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
- Palmer, E. H. (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine: Arabic and English Name Lists Collected During the Survey by Lieutenants Conder and Kitchener, R. E. Transliterated and Explained by E.H. Palmer. Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Sharon, Moshe (1999). Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae, B-C. 2. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-11083-6.