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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 liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family has ruled since returning to power in 1991, and reestablished an elected legislature that in recent years has become increasingly assertive.
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
land: 17,820 sq km
water: 0 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: 0.84%
permanent crops: 0.17%
other: 98.99% (2005)
Irrigated land:
130 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and 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: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping
Geography - note:
strategic location at head of Persian Gulf
People Kuwait
note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.9% (male 331,768/female 319,895)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 1,085,721/female 613,746)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 42,460/female 24,803) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 25.9 years
male: 28 years
female: 22.3 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
21.94 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
2.41 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
15.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 1.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.52 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.71 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.72 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.2 years
male: 76.13 years
female: 78.31 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.91 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.12% (2001 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%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%
Arabic (official), English widely spoken
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.5%
male: 85.1%
female: 81.7% (2003 est.)
Government Kuwait
Country name:
conventional long form: State of Kuwait
conventional short form: Kuwait
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
local short form: Al Kuwayt
Government type:
constitutional hereditary emirate
name: Kuwait
geographic coordinates: 29 20 N, 47 59 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak Al Kabir
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
NA years of age; universal (adult); note - males in the military or police are not allowed to vote; adult females were allowed to vote as of 16 May 2005; all voters must have been citizens for 20 years
Executive branch:
chief of state: Amir SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 29 January 2006); Crown Prince NAWAF al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah
head of government: Prime Minister NASIR al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 7 February 2006); First Deputy Prime Minister JABIR Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers MUHAMMAD al-Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006) and Ismail al-SHATTI (since 10 July 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir; note - the cabinet, which was formed in July 2006, resigned on 4 March 2007; Prime Minister NASIR al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah has been reappointed and will oversee the formation of a new cabinet; technically the current ministers compose a caretaker government.
elections: none; the amir is hereditary; the amir appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (50 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; all cabinet ministers are also ex officio voting members of the National Assembly)
elections: last held 29 June 2006 (next election to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - NA
Judicial branch:
High Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
none; formation of political parties is in practice illegal, but is not forbidden by law
Political pressure groups and leaders:
a number of political groups act as de facto parties; several legislative blocs operate in the National Assembly: tribal groups, merchants, Shi'a activists, Islamists, secular liberals and pro-geovernment deputies; in mid-2006, a coalition of Islamists, liberals, and Shia campaigned successfully for electoral reform to reduce corruption
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador SALIM Abdallah al-Jabir al-Sabah
chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0517
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard LEBARON
embassy: Bayan 36302, Area 14, Al-Masjed Al-Aqsa Street (near the Bayan palace), Kuwait City
mailing address: P. O. Box 77 Safat 13001 Kuwait; or PSC 1280 APO AE 09880-9000
telephone: [965] 259-1001
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; design, which dates to 1961, based on the Arab revolt flag of World War I
Economy Kuwait
Economy - overview:
Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 96 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% 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. Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the northern part of the country. High oil prices in recent years have helped build Kuwait's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. As a result of this positive fiscal situation, the need for economic reforms is less urgent and the government has not earnestly pushed through new initiatives.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$52.17 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$58.3 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$21,600 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 48.3%
services: 51.3% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
1.136 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
2.2% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
26.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $59.58 billion
expenditures: $33.62 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
8.1% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
practically no crops; fish
petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate:
13.1% (2005 est.)
Electricity - production:
40.37 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
37.54 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
2.418 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
335,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
1.97 million bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
96.5 billion bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
9.7 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
9.7 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.572 trillion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$40.75 billion (2006 est.)
$56.06 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
oil and refined products, fertilizers
Exports - partners:
Japan 19.7%, South Korea 15.4%, US 11.9%, Taiwan 11.1%, Singapore 9.5%, Netherlands 4.7% (2005)
$19.12 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
Imports - partners:
US 14.1%, Germany 10.8%, Japan 8.4%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, UK 5.7%, France 4.8%, China 4.5% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$11.08 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$19.7 billion (2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$NA (2001)
Currency (code):
Kuwaiti dinar (KD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Kuwaiti dinars per US dollar - 0.29 (2006), 0.292 (2005), 0.2947 (2004), 0.298 (2003), 0.3039 (2002)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Kuwait
Telephones - main lines in use:
510,300 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.536 million (2006)
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, and open-wire and fiber-optic cable; a cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is well supplied with pay telephones
international: country code - 965; 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 hosts:
2,310 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
700,000 (2005)
Transportation Kuwait
7 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2006)
5 (2006)
gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2006)
total: 5,749 km
paved: 4,887 km
unpaved: 862 km (2004)
Merchant marine:
total: 38 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,424,983 GRT/3,996,755 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 1, container 6, liquefied gas 5, livestock carrier 3, petroleum tanker 21
registered in other countries: 28 (Bahrain 3, Comoros 1, Liberia 1, Libya 1, Panama 2, Qatar 7, Saudi Arabia 5, UAE 8) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi
Military Kuwait
Military branches:
Land Forces, Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), National Guard (2007)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 1 month annual training to age 40; women have served in police forces since 1999 (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 864,745
females age 18-49: 467,120 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 737,292
females age 18-49: 405,207 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 18,743
females age 18-49: 20,065 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$3.01 billion (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.9% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Kuwait
Disputes - international:
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Kuwait is a destination country for men and women who migrate legally from South and Southeast Asia for domestic or low-skilled labor, but are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude by employers in Kuwait including conditions of physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement to the home, and withholding of passports to restrict their freedom of movement; Kuwait is reportedly a transit point for South and East Asian workers recruited for low-skilled work in Iraq; some of these workers are deceived as to the true location and nature of this work, and others are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in Iraq; in past years, Kuwait was also a destination country for children exploited as camel jockeys, but this form of trafficking appears to have ceased
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Kuwait is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List based largely on pledges of future actions

This page was last updated on 15 March, 2007