Fast Facts

Population:
2,589,000
Capital:
Kuwait City; 1,222,000
Area:
17,818 square kilometers (6,880 square miles)
Language:
Arabic, English
Religion:
Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Parsi
Currency:
Kuwaiti dinar
Life Expectancy:
78
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $17,500
Literacy Percent:
84
Flag: Kuwait
Map: Kuwait

A small, oil-rich country on the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is flat and arid, but oil wealth makes this an attractive place for immigrants. Kuwaiti Arabs make up a third of the population, with other Arabs (Egyptians, Palestinians) 22 percent, and non-Arabs (mostly South Asians) 38 percent. Founded in the 18th century, the ruling al-Sabah dynasty was in place in 1899 when Kuwait came under British protection. Full independence was achieved in 1961. Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, but a U.S.-led coalition routed Iraqi forces. Kuwait was the principal platform for U.S. military operations against Saddam Hussein in 2003.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing
  • Agriculture: Practically no crops; fish
  • Exports: Oil and refined products, fertilizers

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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