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Flag of Kuwait
Map of Kuwait
Introduction Kuwait
Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that completely liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91.
Geography Kuwait
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates:
29 30 N, 45 45 E
Map references:
Middle East
total: 17,820 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 17,820 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
total: 462 km
border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km
499 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters
flat to slightly undulating desert plain
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 306 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
Land use:
arable land: 0.34%
permanent crops: 0.06%
other: 99.6% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
60 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April; they bring heavy rain which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August
Environment - current issues:
limited natural fresh water resources; some of world's largest and most sophisticated desalination facilities provide much of the water; air and water pollution; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping
Geography - note:
strategic location at head of Persian Gulf
People Kuwait
note: includes 1,159,913 non-nationals (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28.3% (male 304,200; female 292,900)
15-64 years: 69.2% (male 934,115; female 527,331)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 34,106; female 18,909) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
21.84 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
2.46 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
13.88 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.77 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1.52 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
10.87 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.46 years
male: 75.56 years
female: 77.39 years (2002 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.14 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.12% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti
Ethnic groups:
Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%), Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%
Arabic (official), English widely spoken
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.6%
male: 82.2%
female: 74.9% (1995 est.)
Government Kuwait
Country name:
conventional long form: State of Kuwait
conventional short form: Kuwait
local short form: Al Kuwayt
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
Government type:
nominal constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al Farwaniyah, Al 'Asimah, Al Jahra', Hawalli
19 June 1961 (from UK)
National holiday:
National Day, 25 February (1950)
approved and promulgated 11 November 1962
Legal system:
civil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
adult males who have been naturalized for 30 years or more or have resided in Kuwait since before 1920 and their male descendants at age 21
note: only 10% of all citizens are eligible to vote; in 1996, naturalized citizens who do not meet the pre-1920 qualification but have been naturalized for 30 years were eligible to vote for the first time
Executive branch:
chief of state: Amir JABIR al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah (since 31 December 1977)
head of government: Prime Minister and Crown Prince SAAD al-Abdallah al-Salim Al Sabah (since 8 February 1978); First Deputy Prime Minister SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah (since 17 October 1992); Deputy Prime Ministers JABIR MUBARAK al-Hamud Al Sabah (since NA) and MUHAMMAD KHALID al-Hamed Al Sabah (since NA)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the monarch
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (50 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 3 July 1999 (next to be held NA 2003)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 50; note - all cabinet ministers are also ex officio members of the National Assembly
Judicial branch:
High Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
none; formation of political parties is illegal
Political pressure groups and leaders:
several political groups act as de facto parties: Bedouins, merchants, Sunni and Shi'a activists, and secular leftists and nationalists
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber AL SABAH
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0517
telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702
chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard H. JONES
embassy: Bayan, Area 14, Al-Masjed Al-Aqsa Street (near the Bayan palace), Kuwait City
mailing address: P. O. Box 77 Safat, 13001 Safat, Kuwait Unit 69000, APO AE 09880-9000
telephone: [965] 539-5307, ext. 2240
FAX: [965] 538-0282
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side
Economy Kuwait
Economy - overview:
Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of 94 billion barrels - 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.
purchasing power parity - $30.9 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $15,100 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
industry: 60%
services: 40%
agriculture: 0% (2000)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.7% (2001)
Labor force:
1.3 million
note: 68% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.) (1998 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
1.8% (1996 est.)
revenues: $11.5 billion
expenditures: $17.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY01/02 )
petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production:
31.2 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
29.016 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
practically no crops; fish
$16.2 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
oil and refined products, fertilizers
Exports - partners:
Japan 23%, US 14%, South Korea 13%, Singapore 7%, Netherlands 6%, Pakistan 6%, Indonesia 4%, UK 2% (2000)
$7.4 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
Imports - partners:
US 12%, Japan 8%, UK 8%, Germany 7%, China 5%, France 4%, Australia 3%, Netherlands 2% (2000)
Debt - external:
$6.9 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Kuwaiti dinar (KD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Kuwaiti dinars per US dollar - 0.3075 (January 2002), 0.3066, (2001), 0.3067 (2000), 0.3044 (1999), 0.3047 (1998), 0.3033 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Kuwait
Telephones - main lines in use:
412,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
210,000 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the quality of service is excellent
domestic: new telephone exchanges provide a large capacity for new subscribers; trunk traffic is carried by microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, open wire, and fiber-optic cable; a cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is well supplied with pay telephones
international: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean, 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean), and 2 Arabsat
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 11, shortwave 1 (1998)
1.175 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)
875,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
200,000 (2002)
Transportation Kuwait
0 km
total: 4,450 km
paved: 3,590 km
unpaved: 860 km (1999 est.)
crude oil 877 km; petroleum products 40 km; natural gas 165 km
Ports and harbors:
Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Kuwait, Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi, Mina' Su'ud
Merchant marine:
total: 38 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,274,515 GRT/3,627,835 DWT
ships by type: bulk 1, cargo 1, container 6, liquefied gas 6, livestock carrier 5, petroleum tanker 19
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Monaco 1, Saudi Arabia 1 (2002 est.)
7 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
3 (2002)
Military Kuwait
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force (including Air Defense Force), National Police Force, National Guard, Coast Guard
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 812,059 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 486,906 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 18,309 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1,967.3 million (FY01)
note: Kuwait is changing its fiscal year; the above figure is for July-March 2001; future budget years will be April-March annually
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.5% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Kuwait
Disputes - international:
in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands, although the Iraqi Government continues periodic rhetorical challenges

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003