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Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. A male descendent of Ibn Saud, his son ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz, rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. 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. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide from February through April 2005 for half the members of 179 municipal councils. In December 2005, King ABDALLAH completed the process by appointing the remaining members of the advisory municipal councils. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 17.32 cu km/yr (10%/1%/89%)
per capita: 705 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
2.4 cu km (1997)

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

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate:
harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes

Map references:
Middle East

Geographic coordinates:
25 00 N, 45 00 E

Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m

Terrain:
mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Geography - note:
extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal

Area:
total: 2,149,690 sq km
land: 2,149,690 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Location:
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Coastline:
2,640 km

Area - comparative:
slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Irrigated land:
16,200 sq km (2003)

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

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified

Natural hazards:
frequent sand and dust storms

Land use:
arable land: 1.67%
permanent crops: 0.09%
other: 98.24% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
3.89 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.3 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.08 male(s)/female
total population: 1.19 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.01% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.09 years
male: 74.04 years
female: 78.25 years (2008 est.)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.8%
male: 84.7%
female: 70.8% (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:
-6.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Median age:
total: 21.5 years
male: 22.9 years
female: 19.8 years (2008 est.)

Population:
28,146,656
note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
6.8% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
1.954% (2008 est.)

Languages:
Arabic

Death rate:
2.49 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA

Age structure:
0-14 years: 38% (male 5,458,023/female 5,245,911)
15-64 years: 59.5% (male 9,470,353/female 7,284,696)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 356,910/female 330,764) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
28.85 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Religions:
Muslim 100%

Nationality:
noun: Saudi(s)
adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ford M. FRAKER
embassy: Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
mailing address: American Embassy, 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)

National holiday:
Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)

Suffrage:
21 years of age; male

Government type:
monarchy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Ansar Al Marah (supports women's rights)
other: gas companies; religious groups

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Adil al-Ahmad al-JUBAYR
chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3113
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, New York

International organization participation:
ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional members), AFESD, AMF, BIS, FAO, G-20, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Legislative branch:
Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent to introduce elections for half of the members of local and provincial assemblies and a third of the members of the national Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura, incrementally over a period of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced

Legal system:
based on Sharia law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Flag description:
green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (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); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932

Independence:
23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)

Country name (Goverment):
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

Political parties and leaders:
none

Capital:
name: Riyadh
geographic coordinates: 24 38 N, 46 43 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution:
governed according to Islamic law; the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was promulgated by royal decree in 1992

Executive branch:
chief of state: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abd al- Aziz Al Saud (half brother of the monarch); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many royal family members
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but the new system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan becomes king

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Council of Justice

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 17.1%, Japan 16.3%, South Korea 9.7%, China 8.1%, Taiwan 4.7%, Singapore 4% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
156.8 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
NA

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
$141 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$71.56 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
11.8% among Saudi males only (local bank estimate; some estimates range as high as 25%) (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
8.9 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$21,300 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
19.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$66.94 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$600.4 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$528.3 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar - 3.75 (2008 est.), 3.745 (2007), 3.745 (2006), 3.747 (2005), 3.75 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
6% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$102.4 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
6.74 million
note: about one-third of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 12.6%, China 9.4%, Germany 8.8%, Japan 8.1%, Italy 5%, South Korea 4.9%, UK 4.5% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.3% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.1%
industry: 61.6%
services: 35.4% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
41,680 bbl/day (2005)

Exports:
$329.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
75.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
Saudi riyal (SAR)

Economy - overview:
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses more than 20% of the world's proven petroleum 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 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors. High oil prices through mid-2008 have boosted growth, government revenues, and Saudi ownership of foreign assets, while enabling Riyadh to pay down domestic debt. The government is encouraging private sector growth - especially in power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemicals - to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil exports and to increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population, nearly 40% of which are youths under 15 years old. Unemployment is high, and the large youth population generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, infrastructure development, and government salaries. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment and diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has announced plans to establish six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to promote development and diversification. The last five years of high oil prices have given the Kingdom ample financial reserves to manage the impact of the global financial crisis, but tight international credit, falling oil prices, and the global economic slowdown will reduce Saudi economic growth in 2009.

Economic aid - donor:
since 2002, Saudi Arabia has provided more than $480 million in budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority, supported Palestinian refugees through contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), provided more than $250 million to Arab League funds for the Palestinians, and pledged $500 million in assistance over the next three years at the Donors Conference in Dec 2007; pledged $230 million to development in Afghanistan; pledged $1 billion in export guarantees and soft loans to Iraq; pledged $133 million in direct grant aid, $187 million in concessional loans, and $153 million in export credits for Pakistan earthquake relief; pledged a total of $1.59 billion to Lebanon in assistance and deposits to the Central Bank of Lebanon in 2006 and pledged an additional $1.1 billion in early 2007

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

Industries:
crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
NA%

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
NA

Stock of quasi money:
$109.5 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
179.1 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Imports:
$107.4 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
266.8 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 21.4%
services: 71.9% (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
7.167 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$49.4 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
2.311 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$NA

Public debt:
17.7% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$NA

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$515.1 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:
SAR

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
petroleum and petroleum products 90%

Economic aid - recipient:
$26.29 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
75.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $205 billion
expenditures: $146 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
10.25 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
6.2 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
3.996 million (2007)

Televisions:
5.1 million (1997)

Internet country code:
.sa

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios:
6.25 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
28.381 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
117 (1997)

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable systems; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing rapidly
international: country code - 966; landing point for the international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks providing connectivity to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and US; microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
22 (2003)

Internet hosts:
141,232 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Pipelines:
condensate 212 km; gas 1,880 km; liquid petroleum gas 1,183 km; oil 4,521 km; refined products 1,148 km (2007)

Railways:
total: 1,392 km
standard gauge: 1,392 km 1.435-m gauge (with branch lines and sidings) (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jiddah, Yanbu' al Sinaiyah

Heliports:
8 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 62
by type: cargo 5, chemical tanker 13, container 5, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 8
foreign-owned: 12 (Egypt 1, Greece 3, Kuwait 7, UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 71 (Bahamas 16, Comoros 1, Dominica 2, France 1, Liberia 27, Marshall Islands 5, Norway 3, Panama 16) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 77
over 3,047 m: 32
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

Roadways:
total: 221,372 km
paved: 47,529 km (includes 3,891 km of expressways)
unpaved: 173,843 km (2006)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 136
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 73
914 to 1,523 m: 39
under 914 m: 15 (2007)

Airports:
213 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2004)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 8,547,441
females age 16-49: 6,381,098 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,398,417
females age 16-49: 5,525,357 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Land Forces (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Ministry of Interior Forces (paramilitary)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 271,905
female: 261,795 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
10% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal cross-border activities; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue discussions on a maritime boundary with Iran

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 240,015 (Palestinian Territories) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from South and Southeast Asia who are subjected to conditions that constitute involuntary servitude including being subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because some are confined to the house in which they work unable to seek help; Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street vendors; some Nigerian women were reportedly trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government continues to lack adequate anti-trafficking laws and, despite evidence of widespread trafficking abuses, did not report any criminal prosecutions, convictions, or prison sentences for trafficking crimes committed against foreign domestic workers (2008)

Illicit drugs:
death penalty for traffickers; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement

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