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Oman Historical and Political Profile

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Oman Index

  • Oman-Labor
  • Oman-Foreign Trade and the Balance of Payments
  • Oman-Transportation
  • Oman-Non-oil Minerals
  • Oman-Organization and Equipment of the Armed Forces
  • Oman-Historical Overview
  • Oman-Fishing
  • Oman-Acknowledgments
  • Oman-Sunni Islam
  • Oman-Impact of the Iran-Iraq War, 1980-88
  • Oman-Internal Security
  • Oman-Internal Security
  • Oman-Banking
  • Oman-Reserves
  • Oman-Historical Patterns of Governance Oman -- Government and Politics
  • Oman-Role of Kuwaiti Armed Forces in the Persian Gulf War
  • Oman-Organization and Mission of the Forces
  • Oman-The Role of the United Arab Emirates in the Iran-Iraq War and the Persian Gulf War
  • Oman-Oman -- The Economy
  • Oman-Oman -- Foreign Relations
  • Oman-Foreign Downstream Ventures
  • Oman-Taimur ibn Faisal, 1913-32
  • Oman-The Al Said Dynasty
  • Oman-The Dhofar Rebellion
  • Oman-Collective Security under the Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Oman-Established Merchant Families
  • Oman-Consultative Council
  • Oman-Human Rights Practices
  • Oman-Said ibn Taimur, 1932-70
  • Oman-Organization and Equipment
  • Oman-Personnel, Training, and Recruitment
  • Oman-Qatar
  • Oman-Health
  • Oman-Public Finance and the Five-Year Development Plans
  • Oman-Water and Power
  • Oman-Government Institutions
  • Oman-State Formation and Politically Influential Groups
  • Oman-Education
  • Oman-Telecommunications
  • Oman-Agriculture and Fishing
  • Oman-Religion Oman -- Society
  • Oman-Territorial Disputes
  • Oman-International Relations
  • Oman-Judicial System
  • Oman-Chapter 1 - Historical Setting
  • Oman-Omani Role in the Persian Gulf War, 1991
  • Oman-Background United Arab Emirates
  • Oman-Hydrocarbon Sector
  • Oman-Police and the Criminal Justice System
  • Oman-Regional Relations
  • Oman-Tourism
  • Oman-Qabus ibn Said: The Emergence of a Modern State
  • Oman-Background Kuwait
  • Oman-Shia Islam
  • Oman-Introduction
  • Oman-The Spread of Islam
  • Oman-The Media
  • Oman-Industry
  • Oman-Persian Gulf War
  • Oman-Regional Security Problems
  • Oman
  • Oman-Mission of the Armed Forces
  • Oman-SOCIETY
  • Oman-Military Capabilities of the Persian Gulf States
  • Oman-Chapter 6 - Oman
  • Oman-Oman -- Country Profile
  • Oman
  • Oman-Climate
  • Oman-Internal Security
  • Oman-Bahrain
  • Oman-Internal Security Problems
  • Oman-Foreword
  • Oman-Population
  • Oman-Faisal ibn Turki, 1888-1913
  • Oman-Preface
  • Oman-Chapter 7 - Regional and National Security Considerations
  • Oman-Oil Production and Exports
  • Oman-Background Oman
  • Oman-Agriculture
  • Oman-ECONOMY
  • Oman-Geography Oman -- Geography and Population
  • Oman
  • BackgroundThe inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.
    LocationMiddle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
    Area(sq km)total: 309,500 sq km
    land: 309,500 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    Geographic coordinates21 00 N, 57 00 E
    Land boundaries(km)total: 1,374 km
    border countries: Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km

    Coastline(km)2,092 km

    Climatedry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south

    Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
    highest point: Jabal Shams 2,980 m
    Natural resourcespetroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
    Land use(%)arable land: 0.12%
    permanent crops: 0.14%
    other: 99.74% (2005)

    Irrigated land(sq km)720 sq km (2003)
    Total renewable water resources(cu km)1 cu km (1997)
    Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.36 cu km/yr (7%/2%/90%)
    per capita: 529 cu m/yr (2000)
    Natural hazardssummer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
    Environment - current issuesrising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; limited natural fresh water resources
    Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - notestrategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
    note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2009 est.)
    Age structure(%)0-14 years: 42.7% (male 744,265/female 714,116)
    15-64 years: 54.5% (male 1,079,511/female 783,243)
    65 years and over: 2.8% (male 55,180/female 41,770) (2009 est.)
    Median age(years)total: 18.8 years
    male: 21.1 years
    female: 16.7 years (2009 est.)
    Population growth rate(%)3.138% (2009 est.)
    Birth rate(births/1,000 population)34.79 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)3.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

    Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)0.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Urbanization(%)urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
    rate of urbanization: 2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
    Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 1.38 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.32 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
    Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 16.88 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 19.29 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 14.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 74.16 years
    male: 71.87 years
    female: 76.55 years (2009 est.)

    Total fertility rate(children born/woman)5.53 children born/woman (2009 est.)
    Nationalitynoun: Omani(s)
    adjective: Omani
    Ethnic groups(%)Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African

    Religions(%)Ibadhi Muslim 75%, other (includes Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Hindu) 25%
    Languages(%)Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects

    Country nameconventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
    conventional short form: Oman
    local long form: Saltanat Uman
    local short form: Uman
    former: Muscat and Oman
    Government typemonarchy
    Capitalname: Muscat
    geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E
    time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions5 regions (manatiq, singular - mintaqat) and 4 governorates* (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Buraymi*, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat (Muscat)*, Musandam*, Zufar (Dhofar)*
    Constitutionnone; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens

    Legal systembased on English common law and Islamic law; ultimate appeal to the monarch; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

    Suffrage21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces are not allowed to vote
    Executive branchchief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
    elections: the monarch is hereditary

    Legislative branchbicameral Majlis Oman consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (71 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has advisory powers only) and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has only advisory powers)
    elections: last held 27 October 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
    election results: new candidates won 46 seats and 38 members of the outgoing Majlis kept their positions; none of the 20 female candidates were elected

    Judicial branchSupreme Court
    note: the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has judges who practice secular and Sharia law

    Political pressure groups and leadersnone
    International organization participationABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band

    Economy - overviewOman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources, but sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped build Oman's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. As a result of its dwindling oil resources, Oman is actively pursuing a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9% by 2020. Some of these projects may be in jeopardy, however, because Muscat overestimated its ability to produce or secure the natural gas needed to power them. Oman actively seeks private foreign investors, especially in the industrial, information technology, tourism, and higher education fields. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources, metal manufacturing, petrochemicals, and international transshipment ports. The drop in oil prices and the global financial crisis in 2008 will affect Oman's fiscal position and it may post a deficit in 2009 if oil prices stay low. In addition, the global credit crisis is slowing the pace of investment and development projects - a trend that probably will continue into 2009.
    GDP (purchasing power parity)$66.87 billion (2008 est.)
    $62.84 billion (2007 est.)
    $59.4 billion (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP (official exchange rate)$59.95 billion (2008 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate(%)6.4% (2008 est.)
    5.8% (2007 est.)
    7.5% (2006 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP)$20,200 (2008 est.)
    $19,600 (2007 est.)
    $19,100 (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 2.1%
    industry: 36.1%
    services: 61.8% (2008 est.)
    Labor force968,800
    note: about 60% of the labor force is non-national (2007)

    Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: NA%
    industry: NA%
    services: NA%
    Unemployment rate(%)15% (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)27.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
    Budgetrevenues: $18.13 billion
    expenditures: $15.95 billion (2008 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)12.5% (2008 est.)
    5.9% (2007 est.)

    Stock of money$5.25 billion (31 December 2008)
    $5.044 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of quasi money$14.57 billion (31 December 2008)
    $11.04 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of domestic credit$17.83 billion (31 December 2008)
    $13.88 billion (31 December 2007)
    Market value of publicly traded shares$14.91 billion (31 December 2008)
    $23.06 billion (31 December 2007)
    $16.16 billion (31 December 2006)
    Economic aid - recipient$30.68 million (2005)

    Public debt(% of GDP)2.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
    10.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
    Agriculture - productsdates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish
    Industriescrude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production; construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals, optic fiber

    Industrial production growth rate(%)3.5% (2008 est.)

    Current account balance$5.523 billion (2008 est.)
    $1.933 billion (2007 est.)
    Exports$37.72 billion (2008 est.)
    $24.72 billion (2007 est.)

    Exports - commodities(%)petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
    Exports - partners(%)China 31.7%, South Korea 17%, UAE 11.7%, Japan 11%, Thailand 7.1% (2008)
    Imports$20.71 billion (2008 est.)
    $14.34 billion (2007 est.)

    Imports - commodities(%)machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants
    Imports - partners(%)UAE 27.2%, Japan 15.6%, US 5.7%, China 4.6%, India 4.5%, South Korea 4.2%, Germany 4.2% (2008)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$11.58 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $9.524 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Debt - external$7.68 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $5.297 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
    Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
    Exchange ratesOmani rials (OMR) per US dollar - 0.3845 (2008 est.), 0.3845 (2007), 0.3845 (2006), 0.3845 (2005), 0.3845 (2004)

    Currency (code)Omani rial (OMR)

    Telephones - main lines in use274,200 (2008)
    Telephones - mobile cellular3.219 million (2008)
    Telephone systemgeneral assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; limited coaxial cable
    domestic: fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems; fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership both increasing; open-wire, microwave, radiotelephone communications, and a domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations
    international: country code - 968; the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable provide connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat (2007)
    Internet country code.om
    Internet users465,000 (2008)
    Airports128 (2009)
    Pipelines(km)gas 4,126 km; oil 3,558 km; refined products 263 km (2008)
    Roadways(km)total: 42,300 km
    paved: 16,500 km (includes 550 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 25,800 km (2005)

    Ports and terminalsMina' Qabus, Salalah
    Military branchesSultan's Armed Forces (SAF): Royal Army of Oman, Royal Navy of Oman, Royal Air Force of Oman (al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat) (2009)
    Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
    Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 802,455
    females age 16-49: 626,841 (2008 est.)
    Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 675,454
    females age 16-49: 563,890 (2009 est.)
    Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 35,647
    female: 34,407 (2009 est.)
    Military expenditures(% of GDP)11.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
    Disputes - internationalboundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public

    Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Oman is a destination country for men and women primarily from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan who migrate willingly, but some of whom become victims of trafficking when subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude as domestic workers and laborers; mistreatment includes non-payment of wages, restrictions on movement and withholding of passports, threats, and physical or sexual abuse; Oman may also be a destination country for women from Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for commercial sexual exploitation
    tier rating: Tier 3 - Oman was rated as Tier 3 for the second consecutive year because it did not report any law enforcement efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking offenses in 2007 and continues to lack victim protection services or a systematic procedure to identify victims of trafficking (2008)
    Electricity - production(kWh)13.58 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 100%
    hydro: 0%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (2001)
    Electricity - consumption(kWh)11.36 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
    Oil - production(bbl/day)761,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - consumption(bbl/day)81,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - exports(bbl/day)593,700 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - imports(bbl/day)17,290 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - proved reserves(bbl)5.5 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
    Natural gas - production(cu m)24 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption(cu m)13.46 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - exports(cu m)10.89 billion cu m (2008)
    Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)849.5 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2001 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS1,300 (2001 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2003 est.)
    Literacy(%)definition: NA
    total population: 81.4%
    male: 86.8%
    female: 73.5% (2003 census)

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 12 years
    male: 12 years
    female: 11 years (2006)
    Education expenditures(% of GDP)4% of GDP (2006)

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