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Kuwait Historical and Political Profile

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Kuwait Index

  • Kuwait-Persian Gulf War
  • Kuwait-SOCIETY
  • Kuwait-Population Kuwait -- SOCIETY
  • Kuwait-Persian Gulf War
  • Kuwait-Organization and Equipment of the Armed Forces
  • Kuwait-Ruling Family Kuwait -- POLITICAL SYSTEM
  • Kuwait-Post-Persian Gulf War Foreign Policy
  • Kuwait-Military Capabilities of the Persian Gulf States
  • Kuwait-Background Kuwait
  • Kuwait-The Role of the United Arab Emirates in the Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War
  • Kuwait-Internal Security Problems
  • Kuwait-The Media
  • Kuwait-Foreign Aid and Trade
  • Kuwait-Education
  • Kuwait-Personnel, Training, and Recruitment
  • Kuwait-Economic Reconstruction
  • Kuwait-Background United Arab Emirates
  • Kuwait-Bureaucracy
  • Kuwait-Chapter 7 - Regional and National Security Considerations
  • Kuwait-Kuwait -- ECONOMY
  • Kuwait-Kuwait -- FOREIGN RELATIONS
  • Kuwait-Health and Welfare
  • Kuwait-PERSIAN GULF STATES -- Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Qatar
  • Kuwait-Police and the Criminal Justice System
  • Kuwait-Bahrain
  • Kuwait-Collective Security under the Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Kuwait-Kuwait -- GEOGRAPHY
  • Kuwait-Politics
  • Kuwait-Constitution
  • Kuwait-Organization and Equipment
  • Kuwait-Foreword
  • Kuwait-Impact of the Iran-Iraq War, 1980-88
  • Kuwait-Transportation and Telecommunications
  • Kuwait-Internal Security
  • Kuwait-Chapter 1 - Historical Setting
  • Kuwait-Legislature
  • Kuwait-Oil Industry
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Foreign Investment
  • Kuwait-Omani Role in the Persian Gulf War, 1991
  • Kuwait-Mission of the Armed Forces
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Acknowledgments
  • Kuwait-Regional Security Problems
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Organization and Mission of the Forces
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait-ECONOMY
  • Kuwait-Agriculture and Fishing
  • Kuwait-Sunni Islam
  • Kuwait-Human Rights Practices
  • Kuwait-Persian Gulf War, 1991
  • Kuwait-Internal Security
  • Kuwait-Banking and Finance
  • Kuwait-Territorial Disputes
  • Kuwait-Preface
  • Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Chapter 2 - Kuwait
  • Kuwait-Kuwait -- Country Profile
  • Kuwait-The Spread of Islam
  • Kuwait-Historical Overview
  • BackgroundBritain 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. The country witnessed the historic election in May 2009 of four women to its National Assembly.
    LocationMiddle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
    Area(sq km)total: 17,818 sq km
    land: 17,818 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    Geographic coordinates29 30 N, 45 45 E
    Land boundaries(km)total: 462 km
    border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km

    Coastline(km)499 km

    Climatedry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters

    Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
    highest point: unnamed location 306 m
    Natural resourcespetroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
    Land use(%)arable land: 0.84%
    permanent crops: 0.17%
    other: 98.99% (2005)

    Irrigated land(sq km)130 sq km (2003)
    Total renewable water resources(cu km)0.02 cu km (1997)
    Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.44 cu km/yr (45%/2%/52%)
    per capita: 164 cu m/yr (2000)
    Natural hazardssudden 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 issueslimited 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 agreementsparty 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 - notestrategic location at head of Persian Gulf
    note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2009 est.)
    Age structure(%)0-14 years: 26.4% (male 361,150/female 348,518)
    15-64 years: 70.7% (male 1,219,075/female 683,587)
    65 years and over: 2.9% (male 49,163/female 29,665) (2009 est.)
    Median age(years)total: 26.2 years
    male: 28.1 years
    female: 22.7 years (2009 est.)
    Population growth rate(%)3.55%
    note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2009 est.)
    Birth rate(births/1,000 population)21.81 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)2.35 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

    Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)16.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Urbanization(%)urban population: 98% of total population (2008)
    rate of urbanization: 2.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
    Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 1.78 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.66 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.54 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
    Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 8.96 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 9.94 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 7.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 77.71 years
    male: 76.51 years
    female: 78.95 years (2009 est.)

    Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.76 children born/woman (2009 est.)
    Nationalitynoun: Kuwaiti(s)
    adjective: Kuwaiti
    Ethnic groups(%)Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%

    Religions(%)Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shia 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%
    Languages(%)Arabic (official), English widely spoken

    Country nameconventional long form: State of Kuwait
    conventional short form: Kuwait
    local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
    local short form: Al Kuwayt
    Government typeconstitutional emirate
    Capitalname: Kuwait City
    geographic coordinates: 29 22 N, 47 58 E
    time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir
    Constitutionapproved and promulgated 11 November 1962

    Legal systemcivil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

    Suffrage21 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 branchchief 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 3 April 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBAREK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD AL-SABAH al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir
    elections: none; the amir is hereditary; the amir appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers

    Legislative branchunicameral 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 16 May 2009 (next election to be held in 2013)
    election results: percent of vote by bloc - NA; seats by bloc - Sunni Muslim groups 11, liberals 7, Shiite Muslim groups 6, Popular Action Bloc 3, unaffiliated tribal groups 23

    Judicial branchHigh Court of Appeal

    Political pressure groups and leadersother: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups
    International organization participationABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BDEAC, CAEU, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, Paris Club (associate), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Flag descriptionthree 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 - overviewKuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 104 billion barrels - 8% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. Kuwait experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years on the back of high oil prices and in 2008 posted its tenth consecutive budget surplus. As a result of this positive fiscal situation, the need for economic reforms was less urgent and the government did not push through new initiatives. The drop in oil prices in late 2008 will reduce Kuwait's fiscal surplus in 2009. The global financial crisis may slow the pace of investment and development projects, but Kuwait has vowed to use its considerable financial resources to stabilize the economy if necessary.
    GDP (purchasing power parity)$149.5 billion (2008 est.)
    $137.8 billion (2007 est.)
    $131.6 billion (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP (official exchange rate)$158.1 billion (2008 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate(%)8.5% (2008 est.)
    4.7% (2007 est.)
    6.3% (2006 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP)$57,500 (2008 est.)
    $55,000 (2007 est.)
    $54,400 (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 0.3%
    industry: 52.2%
    services: 47.5% (2008 est.)
    Labor force2.088 million
    note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2008 est.)

    Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    Unemployment rate(%)2.2% (2004 est.)
    Population below poverty line(%)NA%
    Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)18.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
    Budgetrevenues: $105.2 billion
    expenditures: $58.08 billion (2008 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)10.6% (2008 est.)
    5.5% (2007 est.)

    Stock of money$15.31 billion (31 December 2008)
    $15.12 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of quasi money$63.08 billion (31 December 2008)
    $55.2 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of domestic credit$88.77 billion (31 December 2008)
    $78.25 billion (31 December 2007)
    Market value of publicly traded shares$107.2 billion (31 December 2008)
    $188 billion (31 December 2007)
    $128.9 billion (31 December 2006)
    Economic aid - recipient$2.6 million (2004)

    Public debt(% of GDP)7.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
    29.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
    Agriculture - productspractically no crops; fish
    Industriespetroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials

    Industrial production growth rate(%)8% (2008 est.)

    Current account balance$64.78 billion (2008 est.)
    $47.48 billion (2007 est.)
    Exports$86.94 billion (2008 est.)
    $63.68 billion (2007 est.)

    Exports - commodities(%)oil and refined products, fertilizers
    Exports - partners(%)Japan 18.4%, South Korea 14.6%, India 11.5%, US 8.9%, Singapore 7.9%, China 6.1% (2008)
    Imports$22.94 billion (2008 est.)
    $20.63 billion (2007 est.)

    Imports - commodities(%)food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
    Imports - partners(%)US 11.9%, Japan 9.2%, Germany 8.1%, China 7.6%, Saudi Arabia 7%, Italy 4.8%, UK 4.2% (2008)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$17.23 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $16.78 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Debt - external$36.89 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $33.62 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$1.22 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $942 million (31 December 2007 est.)
    Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$25.68 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $16.93 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Exchange ratesKuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar - 0.2679 (2008 est.), 0.2844 (2007), 0.29 (2006), 0.292 (2005), 0.2947 (2004)

    Currency (code)Kuwaiti dinar (KD)

    Telephones - main lines in use541,000 (2008)
    Telephones - mobile cellular2.907 million (2008)
    Telephone systemgeneral 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; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations - 6 (3 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean, and 2 Arabsat)
    Internet country code.kw
    Internet users1 million (2008)
    Airports7 (2009)
    Pipelines(km)gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2008)
    Roadways(km)total: 5,749 km
    paved: 4,887 km
    unpaved: 862 km (2004)

    Ports and terminalsAsh Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi
    Military branchesKuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2008)
    Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-30 years of age for compulsory and 18-25 years of age for voluntary military service; women age 18-30 may be subject to compulsory military service; conscription suspended in 2001 (2009)
    Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,032,408
    females age 16-49: 568,657 (2008 est.)
    Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 935,525
    females age 16-49: 519,854 (2009 est.)
    Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 18,122
    female: 18,865 (2009 est.)
    Military expenditures(% of GDP)5.3% of GDP (2006)
    Disputes - internationalKuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf

    Trafficking in personscurrent 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
    tier rating: Tier 3 - insufficient efforts in 2007 to prosecute and punish abusive employers and those who traffic women for sexual exploitation; the government failed for the fourth year in a row to live up to promises to provide shelter and protective services for victims of involuntary domestic servitude and other forms of trafficking (2008)
    Electricity - production(kWh)45.83 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
    hydro: 0%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (2001)
    Electricity - consumption(kWh)40.21 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Oil - production(bbl/day)2.741 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - consumption(bbl/day)325,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - exports(bbl/day)2.349 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - imports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - proved reserves(bbl)104 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
    Natural gas - production(cu m)12.7 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption(cu m)12.7 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
    Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)1.794 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.12% (2001 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSNA (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
    Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 93.3%
    male: 94.4%
    female: 91% (2005 census)

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 13 years
    male: 12 years
    female: 13 years (2006)
    Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.8% of GDP (2006)

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