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Flag of Saudi Arabia
Map of Saudi Arabia
Introduction Saudi Arabia
In 1902 Abd al-Aziz Ibn SAUD captured Riyadh and set out on a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian Peninsula. In the 1930s, the discovery of oil transformed the country. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all major governmental concerns.
Geography Saudi Arabia
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen
Geographic coordinates:
25 00 N, 45 00 E
Map references:
Middle East
total: 1,960,582 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 1,960,582 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US
Land boundaries:
total: 4,431 km
border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 744 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km
2,640 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 18 NM
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea: 12 NM
harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes
mostly uninhabited, sandy desert
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper
Land use:
arable land: 1.72%
permanent crops: 0.06%
other: 98.22% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
16,200 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
frequent sand and dust storms
Environment - current issues:
desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal
People Saudi Arabia
note: includes 5,360,526 non-nationals (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.4% (male 5,086,541; female 4,883,942)
15-64 years: 54.8% (male 7,493,304; female 5,396,985)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 362,780; female 289,778) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
3.27% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
37.25 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
1.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.39 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.25 male(s)/female
total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
49.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.4 years
female: 70.2 years (2002 est.)
male: 66.7 years
Total fertility rate:
6.21 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Saudi(s)
adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian
Ethnic groups:
Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
Muslim 100%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78%
male: 84.2%
female: 69.5% (2002 est.)
Government Saudi Arabia
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk
23 September 1932 (Unification of the Kingdom)
National holiday:
Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)
governed according to Shari'a (Islamic law); the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was introduced in 1993
Legal system:
based on Islamic law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive branch:
chief of state: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary
head of government: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch and includes many royal family members
Legislative branch:
a consultative council (90 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Council of Justice
Political parties and leaders:
none allowed
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador BANDAR bin Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, and New York
telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert W. JORDAN
embassy: Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
mailing address: American Embassy Riyadh, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
telephone: [966] (1) 488-3800
FAX: [966] (1) 488-7360
consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)
Flag description:
green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); green is the traditional color of Islam
Economy Saudi Arabia
Economy - overview:
This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved reserves), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 25% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Riyadh expects to have a budget deficit in 2002, in part because of increased spending for education and other social programs. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.
purchasing power parity - $241 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.6% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $10,600 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 7%
industry: 48%
services: 45% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2001)
Labor force:
7 million
note: 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 12%, industry 25%, services 63% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $42 billion
expenditures: $54 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)
crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, cement, construction, fertilizer, plastics
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production:
123.5 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
114.86 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk
$66.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum and petroleum products 90%
Exports - partners:
US 17.4%, Japan 17.3%, South Korea 11.7%, Singapore 5.3%, India (2000)
$29.7 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
Imports - partners:
US 21.1%, Japan 9.4%, Germany 7.4%, UK 7.3% (2000)
Debt - external:
$23.8 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
pledged $100 million in 1993 to fund reconstruction of Lebanon; since 1993, Saudi Arabia has committed $208 million for assistance to the Palestinians; pledged $240 million to development in Afghanistan
Saudi riyal (SAR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Saudi riyals per US dollar - 3.7450 (fixed rate since June 1986)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Saudi Arabia
Telephones - main lines in use:
3.1 million (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1 million
note: in 1998, the government contracted for the installation of 575,000 additional Group Speciale Mobile (GSM) cellular telephone lines over 15 months to raise the total number of subscribers to more than one million; Riyadh planned to further expand the GSM system in 1999 by adding an additional one million lines (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable systems
international: microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; submarine cable to Djibouti, Egypt and Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)
6.25 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
117 (1997)
5.1 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
42 (2001)
Internet users:
570,000 (2001)
Transportation Saudi Arabia
total: 1,392 km
standard gauge: 1,392 km 1.435-m gauge (724 km are double-tracked) (2001)
total: 146,524 km
paved: 44,104 km
unpaved: 102,420 km (1997 est.)
crude oil 6,400 km; petroleum products 150 km; natural gas 2,200 km (includes natural gas liquids 1,600 km)
Ports and harbors:
Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Duba, Jiddah, Jizan, Rabigh, Ra's al Khafji, Mishab, Ras Tanura, Yanbu' al Bahr, Madinat Yanbu' al Sinaiyah
Merchant marine:
total: 71 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,071,315 GRT/1,412,125 DWT
ships by type: cargo 11, chemical tanker 10, container 4, livestock carrier 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 11, short-sea passenger 8
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Egypt 3, Finland 1, Greece 3, Kuwait 1, Sudan 1, United Arab Emirates 1, United Kingdom 3 (2002 est.)
209 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 71 70
over 3,047 m: 31 31
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12 11
914 to 1,523 m: 2 3
under 914 m: 2 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 24 23
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 138
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 79
under 914 m: 13 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 39
5 (2002)
Military Saudi Arabia
Military branches:
Land Force (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Ministry of Interior Forces (paramilitary)
Military manpower - military age:
17 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,007,635 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,359,849 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 233,402 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$18.3 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
13% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Saudi Arabia
Disputes - international:
demarcation of delimited boundary with Yemen involves nomadic tribal affiliations; because details of 1974 and 1977 treaties have not been made public, the exact location of the Saudi Arabia-UAE boundary is unknown and status is considered de facto
Illicit drugs:
death penalty for traffickers; increasing consumption of heroin, cocaine, and hashish

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003