From Academic Kids

The State of Kuwait is a small oil-rich monarchy on the coast of the Persian Gulf, enclosed by Saudi Arabia in the south and Iraq in the north. Kuwait is located in the Middle East.

دولة الكويت
(Dawlat al Kuwayt)
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(In Detail)
National motto: For Kuwait
Official language Arabic
Capital Kuwait
Emir Jabir Al Sabah
Crown Prince Saad Al Sabah
Prime minister Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 152nd
17,818 km?
 - Total (2001)
 - Density
Ranked 141st
Independence June 19, 1961 from the United Kingdom
Currency Dinar
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem Al-Nasheed Al-Watani
National Flower Rhanterium epapposum
Locally called Arfaj
Internet TLD .kw
Calling Code 965
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During the first Gulf War, most of Kuwait's oil wells were set on fire by retreating Iraqi forces. It took several months before the fire could be controlled.


Main article: History of Kuwait

Kuwait was established in the 16th century when several clans from the Al Aniza tribe migrated to the northern shore of the Persian Gulf from the Najd, their famine-stricken homeland in central Arabia. They settled in what is now known as Qatar for more than sixty years before migrating over sea to settle in the Isle De Chader, where they built a small fort, or “kut”. Kuwait was never a part of the Abbasid empire (8th century) since it didn’t exist at that time. Kuwait was incorporated within the Ottoman Empire, evidenced by Sheik Mubarak's flying the Ottoman flag over his palace and fully realizing Ottoman authority over his lands. The current rulers of the country are descended from Sabah I, who was chosen by the community, which was composed mainly of traders. They were tasked with administering the affairs of the State, including foreign affairs and taxation/duties. This is unlike most other Arab emirates of the Persian Gulf where the rulers seized and maintained authority by force.

The 17th century saw the Arabian Peninsula in tumultuous times. The area that is now Kuwait was occupied by tribes and used for spice trading from India. By the 18th century, most of the local people made a living selling pearls. However, as pearl farming developed in Japan during the 1930s, Kuwait became impoverished. In 1899, growing British influence led to Kuwait becoming a British protectorate. Oil transformed Kuwait into one of the richest countries in the Arab peninsula; in 1953 the country became the largest exporter of oil in the Persian Gulf. This massive growth attracted many immigrant laborers who were rarely granted citizenship. Kuwait, having amassed great wealth, was the first of the Persian Gulf-Arab states to declare independence on June 19 1961. Iraq challenged this declaration, claiming that Kuwait was part of its territory. It threatened to invade Kuwati, but was deterred by the dispatch of a British military force. In 1963, Iraq recognized Kuwait.

After being allied with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War until its end in 1988 (largely due to the desire for Iraqi protection from Shiite Iran), Kuwait was invaded and annexed by Iraq (under Saddam Hussein) in August 1990. Hussein's primary justifications included a charge that Kuwaiti territory was in fact an Iraqi province, and that annexation was retaliation for "economic warfare" Kuwait had waged through slant drilling into oil supplies that were in disputed territories. The monarchy was deposed after annexation, and an Iraqi governor installed.

Though initially ambiguous toward a potential annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, US President George H. W. Bush ultimately condemned Hussein's actions, and moved to drive out Iraqi forces. Authorized by the UN Security Council, an American-led coalition of 34 nations fought the Persian Gulf War to reinstate the Kuwaiti Emir. After six weeks of fighting in the early 1990, Iraq was forced to withdraw its troops from Kuwait; during retreat, the Iraqi Armed Forces practiced a scorched earth policy by setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells, fires which were once the subject of a now-disproven ecological doomsday scenario advocated by Carl Sagan. The fires took over nine months to fully extinguish, and the cost of repairs to oil infrastructure exceeded US $5,000,000,000. Certain buildings and infrastructural facilities (including Kuwait International Airport) were also severly damaged during the war . Kuwait now remains under the governance of the Emir (see Amir Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah) as an independent state and is of strategic importance from both military (proximity to Iraq) and economic (oil reserves) perspectives.


Main article: Politics of Kuwait

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Kuwaiti Emir: Sheikh Jabir, who suffered a stroke in 2001, seldom appears in public.

Chief of state is the Emir, a semi-hereditary title. The emir appoints the prime minister, who until recently was also the crown prince. A council of ministers aids the prime minister in his task as head of government. The parliament known as the Majlis Al-Umma (National Assembly), consists of 50 members, who are chosen in elections held every four years. Government ministers, according to the Constitution of the State, are given automatic membership in the parliament.

Prior to 2005, only 15% of the Kuwaiti citizen population was allowed to vote, with all women, "recently naturalised" citizens (less than 30 years of citizenship), and members of the armed forces excluded. On May 16, 2005, Parliament permitted women's suffrage by a 35-23 vote, subject to Islamic law and effective for the 2007 Parliamentary Election; formerly, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were the only remaining Middle Eastern countries without womens' suffrage. It is unclear what terms will be imposed upon female voters through the decision's requirement of them to abide by Islamic law, such as whether it will require conservative dress and separate polling places. The decision could raise Kuwait's voter rolls from 139,000 to as many as 339,000 if all eligible women register; the total number of Kuwaitis is estimated at more than 960,000. Recently naturalised citizens and current members of the armed forces are still excluded from voting. See also: al-Sabah Ruling Family


Main article: Governorates of Kuwait

Kuwait is divided into 6 governorates (muhafazat):


Map of Kuwait
Map of Kuwait

Main article: Geography of Kuwait

Kuwait consists mostly of desert, with little altitude difference. It has nine islands, the largest one being the Bubiyan, which is linked to the mainland by a concrete bridge (after the liberation in 1991 the island was converted into a military base and currently no civilians are allowed in). The islands are:

Kuwait is considered to be one of the fifteen lands that comprise the "Cradle of Humanity".

Kuwait's climate is dry and hot in the summer, and cool in the winter.

The major cities are the capital Kuwait, and Al-Jahrah (further in the north, 30-minute drive from the capital). The main residential and business areas are Salmiya (with US-style shopping malls) and Hawalli.


 is the capital of Kuwait and is one of the busiest financial and trade centres in the Gulf .Two water-storage tanks, left, designed to resemble minarets, or mosque towers, hold the city?s potable water (FFG 38).
Kuwait City is the capital of Kuwait and is one of the busiest financial and trade centres in the Gulf .Two water-storage tanks, left, designed to resemble minarets, or mosque towers, hold the city?s potable water (FFG 38).

Main article: Economy of Kuwait

Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of 94 billion barrels (15 km³) - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues, and 75% of government income. Kuwait's climate limits agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Higher oil prices put the FY99/00 budget into a $2 billion surplus. The FY00/01 budget covers only nine months because of a change in the fiscal year. The budget for FY01/02 envisioned higher expenditures for salaries, construction, and other general categories. Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country. By 1990 the country earned more from foreign investment than from oil exports. The expenses of the Iraqi invasion and postwar reconstruction placed a heavy economic burden on the country, but by the mid-1990s Kuwait had resumed its preinvasion prosperity. Gross domestic product (GDP) for 2003 was $41.7 billion, giving Kuwait a per capita GDP of $17,420. The labor force totals 1,073,115 people, only about one-quarter of whom are Kuwaiti citizens.Template:Ref

The Central Bank of Kuwait in the capital city issues Kuwait?s currency, the Kuwaiti dinar. The dinar is valued at 0.30 dinars per U.S.$1, making it the highest-valued currency in the world.

Oil Companies

Because the government owns the oil industry, it controls most of the economy?in all, about 75 percent of the GDP. Kuwait?s oil exports vary depending on internal needs (almost all of Kuwait?s energy is derived from oil), international demand and prices, and production quotas fixed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Kuwait is a member. OPEC?s quotas, however, are difficult to enforce, and Kuwait and other countries have been accused of violating them. In 2002 oil production was 692 million barrels.

The chief oil companies are -

  • Kuwait Oil Corporation (KOC) - A crude oil exploration and devolpment company
  • Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation (KNPC) - Runs Oil Refineries across Kuwait
  • Petrochemicals Industries Corporation (PIC) - Petrochemical & Fertilizers manufacturer
  • Kuwait Petroleum Intl. Limited (KPIL - Q8) - Runs refining and marketing buisness in Europe
  • Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploraton (KUFPEC) - Intl. Oil Exploration Company
  • Equate - A Petrochemical company formed by PIC and Dow Chemical


Main article: Demographics of Kuwait

About 80% of the Kuwaiti population is Arab; the non-Kuwaiti Arabs contain a large group of Egyptians and also stateless Arabs, locally known as Bidoon (an Arabic word meaning "without" and different from Bedouin). Other large groups of immigrants include Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Filipinos. Kuwait formerly had a large Palestinian population, though most of them were forced out of the country after PLO leader Yassir Arafat's support of Iraq during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.

The official language is Arabic, although English is generally understood. Some immigrants also speak their own local languages. About 85% of Kuwait's population are Muslims, mostly Sunni.

Of Kuwait's Muslims, it is estimated that around 70% of them are Sunni, and around 30% or slightly more are Shia Muslims. A relatively large percentage of Kuwaitis belonging to Islam's Shia sect is due to Kuwait's close proximity to Iran and Iraq.


Kuwait?s transportation system is modern and efficient, with a road system that is well developed by regional standards. Roads total 4,450 km (2,765 mi), of which 81 percent are paved, and most people travel by automobile. A small public bus system serves mainly foreign workers. An international airport is located on the southern outskirts of the Kuwait city metropolitan area and Kuwait Airways is the national airline. The country has three modern seaports, one of which specializes in oil exports.


Main article: Culture of Kuwait

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries and Territories in Southwest Asia

Afghanistan | Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bahrain | Cyprus | Gaza Strip | Georgia | Iran | Iraq | Israel | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Oman | Qatar | Russia | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Turkey | United Arab Emirates | West Bank | Yemen

Countries and territories in the Middle East
Bahrain | Cyprus | Egypt | Gaza Strip | Iran | Iraq | Israel | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Oman | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Turkey | United Arab Emirates | West Bank | Yemen

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