I believe they're calling it the depth because the height is how tall it is, the width is the distance from right to left, and the depth is the distance from the front to the back. So the width by the depth describes the top face of it.
It definitely sounds like it's asking for the perimeter given "strip ... around the top". If they wanted the area, they would have said something more like "cover the top". Also, it asks for inches, not square inches.