Oman occupies a strategic position on the Arabian Peninsula, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. It is the least developed Gulf state, despite modest oil exports.
Geography: Mostly gravelly desert, with mountains in the north and south. Some narrow fertile coastal strips.
Climate: Blistering heat in the west. Summer temperatures often climb above 113°F (45°C). Southern uplands receive rains June–September.
People and Society: Urban drift has seen most Omanis move to northern towns. The majority are Ibadi Muslims who follow an appointed leader, the imam. Ibadism is not opposed to freedom for women, and a few women hold positions of authority. Baluchi from Pakistan are the largest group of foreign workers.
The Economy: Oil and natural gas account for almost all export revenue. Commercially extractable reserves are limited. Other exports include fish, animals, and dates. Foreigners work in all sectors.
Insight: Until the late 1980s, Oman was closed to all but business or official visitors
Official Name: Sultanate of Oman
Date of Formation: 1951
Population: 2.85 million
Total Area: 82,031 sq. miles (212,460 sq. km)
Density: 35 people per sq. mile
Languages: Arabic*, Baluchi, other
Religions: Ibadi Muslim 75%, other Muslim and Hindu 25%
Ethnic Mix: Arab 88%, Baluchi 4%, Persian 3%, Indian and Pakistani 3%, African 2%
Currency: Omani rial = 1000 baisa