Kuwait

Kuwait

Kuwait lies at the northwest tip of the Gulf, dwarfed by its neighbors Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. It was a British protectorate until 1961, when full independence was granted.

Geography: Terrain is low-lying desert. The lowest land is in the north. Cultivation is  only possible along the coast.

 Climate: Summers are very hot and dry. Winters are cooler, with some rain and occasional frost at night.

 People & Society: Oil-rich monarchy, ruled by the al-Sabah family. It is a conservative Sunni Muslim society, but women are relatively free. Nonetheless, a 1999 decree giving women the vote was blocked for six years in parliament by Islamic traditionalists. Immigrant workers, from other Arab states, India, and Pakistan, now outnumber native citizens. US-led forces rescued Kuwait after the 1990 Iraqi invasion, and later used it as a launch-pad for the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

 The Economy: Oil and natural gas dominate the economy. Skilled workforce, raw materials, and food are imported. High standard of living. Financial services: stock market lost 40% of value in 2008.

 Insight: During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq deliberately set fire to 800 of Kuwait’s 950 oil wells

Fact-File:

 Official Name: State of Kuwait

 Date of Formation: 1961

 Capital: Kuwait City

 Population: 2.99 million

 Total Area: 6880 sq. miles (17,820 sq. km)

 Density: 434 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Arabic*, English

 Religions: Sunni Muslim 45%, Shi’a Muslim 40%, Christian, Hindu, and other 15%

 Ethnic Mix: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, other 11%

 Government: Monarchy

 Currency: Kuwaiti dinar = 1000 fils

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