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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.44 cu km/yr (45%/2%/52%)
per capita: 164 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
0.02 cu km (1997)

Land boundaries:
total: 462 km
border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km

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

dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters

Map references:
Middle East

Geographic coordinates:
29 30 N, 45 45 E

Natural resources:
petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 306 m

flat to slightly undulating desert plain

Geography - note:
strategic location at head of Persian Gulf

total: 17,820 sq km
land: 17,820 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

499 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey

Irrigated land:
130 sq km (2003)

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

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Land use:
arable land: 0.84%
permanent crops: 0.17%
other: 98.99% (2005)

  People Back To Top

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

Sex ratio:
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: 1.67 male(s)/female
total population: 1.53 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.12% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.53 years
male: 76.38 years
female: 78.73 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 94.4%
female: 91% (2005 census)

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

Ethnic groups:
Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%

Median age:
total: 26.1 years
male: 28 years
female: 22.6 years (2008 est.)

note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2006)

Population growth rate:
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2008 est.)

Arabic (official), English widely spoken

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

Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.6% (male 351,057/female 338,634)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 1,172,460/female 659,927)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 46,770/female 27,951) (2008 est.)

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

Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shia 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%

noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Deborah K. JONES
embassy: Bayan 36302, Block 13, 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

National holiday:
National Day, 25 February (1950)

21 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

Government type:
constitutional emirate

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador SALIM al-Abdallah al-Jabir al-Sabah
chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702
FAX: [1] (202) 966-0517

International organization participation:

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 17 May 2008 (next election to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by bloc - NA; oppositionists hold a slight majority, but are divided among small coalitions of liberals, nationalists, Islamists, and a large number of unaffiliated tribal members

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

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

19 June 1961 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: State of Kuwait
conventional short form: Kuwait
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
local short form: Al Kuwayt

Political parties and leaders:
none; formation of political parties is in practice illegal but is not forbidden by law

name: Kuwait
geographic coordinates: 29 22 N, 47 58 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

approved and promulgated 11 November 1962

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 (acting) NASIR al-MUHAMMAD al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 3 April 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister (acting) JABIR MUBAREK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers (acting) MUHAMMAD al-Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006) and Faysal al-HAJJI (since 5 April 2007); note - the Amir accepted the resignation of the prime minister and cabinet on 1 December 2008)
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

Administrative divisions:
6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir

Judicial branch:
High Court of Appeal

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Japan 19.9%, South Korea 17%, Taiwan 11.2%, Singapore 9.9%, US 8.4%, Netherlands 4.8%, China 4.4% (2007)

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

Central bank discount rate:
6.25% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
$65.21 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$38.82 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
2.2% (2004 est.)

Oil - exports:
2.356 million bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$60,800 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
18.4% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$78.25 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$157.9 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$159.7 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar - 0.2679 (2008 est.), 0.2844 (2007), 0.29 (2006), 0.292 (2005), 0.2947 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
8.1% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$15.12 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
2.225 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
US 12.7%, Japan 8.5%, Germany 7.3%, China 6.8%, South Korea 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, Italy 5.8%, UK 4.6% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11.7% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.3%
industry: 52.2%
services: 47.5% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
8,022 bbl/day (2005)

$95.46 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
12.5 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Currency (code):
Kuwaiti dinar (KD)

Economy - overview:
Kuwait 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.

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

Imports - commodities:
food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing

petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.54% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$55.2 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
44.75 billion kWh (2006 est.)

$26.54 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

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

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

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

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$10.64 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
334,700 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$28.29 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
7.2% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$1.22 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$188 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

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

Exports - commodities:
oil and refined products, fertilizers

Economic aid - recipient:
$2.6 million (2004)

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:
12.5 billion cu m (2006 est.)

revenues: $113.3 billion
expenditures: $63.55 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

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

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
900,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
517,000 (2006)

875,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 11, shortwave 1 (1998)

1.175 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.774 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)

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; 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 Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)

Internet hosts:
3,289 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2007)

Ports and terminals:
Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi

4 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 38
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 1, carrier 3, container 6, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 22
registered in other countries: 34 (Bahrain 5, Comoros 1, Libya 1, Panama 2, Qatar 7, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saudi Arabia 7, UAE 10) (2008)

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 (2007)

total: 5,749 km
paved: 4,887 km
unpaved: 862 km (2004)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)

7 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; reserve obligation to age 40 with 1 month annual training; women have served in police forces since 1999 (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,032,408
females age 16-49: 568,657 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 892,816
females age 16-49: 500,540 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Land Forces, Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), National Guard (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 17,737
female: 18,519 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
5.3% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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
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)

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