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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. The country witnessed the historic election in May 2009 of four women to its National Assembly. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, staged small protests in February and March 2011... See More



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

Geographic Coordinates:

 29 30 N, 45 45 E


 Total: 17,818 sq km
Land: 17,818 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 462 km
Border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km


 499 km (Rank: 108)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm


 Dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters


 Flat to slightly undulating desert plain

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
Highest point: unnamed elevation 306 m

Natural Resources:

 Petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land Use:

 Arable land: 0.84%
Permanent crops: 0.17%
Other: 98.99% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 100 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 0.02 cu km (1997)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 0.44 cu km/yr (45%/2%/52%)
Per capita: 164 cu m/yr (2000)

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

Environment - Current Issues:

 Limited natural freshwater resources; some of world's largest and most sophisticated desalination facilities provide much of the water; air and water pollution; desertification

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

Geography - Note:

 Strategic location at head of Persian Gulf

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 Noun: Kuwaiti(s)
Adjective: Kuwaiti

Ethnic Groups:

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


 Arabic (official), English widely spoken


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


 2,595,628 (July 2011 est.)

Note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 25.8% (male 348,816/female 321,565)
15-64 years: 72.2% (male 1,153,433/female 720,392)
65 years and over: 2% (male 25,443/female 25,979) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 28.5 years
Male: 29.8 years
Female: 26.3 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:


Note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 21.32 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 2.11 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 98% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 KUWAIT (capital) 2.23 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.047 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.65 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.54 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 8.07 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 7.76 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 8.39 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 77.09 years
Male: 75.95 years
Female: 78.3 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.64 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 6.8% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 1.793 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 99% of population
Rural: 99% of population
Total: 99% of population
Urban: 1% of population
Rural: 1% of population
Total: 1% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 NA (2007 est.)

Obesity - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 28.8% (2000)

Education Expenditures:

 3.8% of GDP (2006)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 93.3%
Male: 94.4%
Female: 91% (2005 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 12 years
Male: 12 years
Female: 13 years (2006)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: State of Kuwait
Conventional short form: Kuwait
Local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
Local short form: Al Kuwayt

Government Type:

 Constitutional emirate


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

Administrative Divisions:

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


 19 June 1961 (from the UK)

National Holiday:

 National Day, 25 February (1950)


 Approved and promulgated 11 November 1962

Legal System:

 Mixed legal system consisting of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic religious law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 21 years of age; universal; 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 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 (born 25 June 1937)

Head of government: Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBARAK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 4 December 2011); Deputy Prime Ministers MUHAMMAD AL-SABAH al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006), Muhammad Muhsin al-AFASI, SABAH AL-KHALID al-Hamad al-Sabah

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir; note - the cabinet of Prime Minister NASIR AL-MUHAMMAD al-Ahmad al-Sabah resigned on 28 November 2011, but will continue in a caretaker role

Elections: none; the amir is hereditary; the amir appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers

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 on 16 May 2009 (next election to be held in 2013)

Election results: percent of vote by bloc - NA; seats by bloc - tribal MPs 25 (all Sunni Muslims, and represented primarily by the Al-Mutairi, Al-Azmi, Al-Ajmi, and Al-Rasheedi tribes), Shia Muslims 9, liberals 7, independents 6, Salafi (Sunni) Islamists 3

Judicial Branch:

 High Court of Appeal

Political Parties and Leaders:

 None; formation of political parties is in practice illegal but is not forbidden by law

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Other: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups

International Organization Participation:


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) 364-2868
Consulate(s) general: Los Angeles

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew H. TUELLER
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] 2259-1001
FAX: [965] 2538-0282

Flag Description:

 Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side; colors and design are based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I; green represents fertile fields, white stands for purity, red denotes blood on Kuwaiti swords, black signifies the defeat of the enemy

National Symbols:

 Golden falcon

National Anthem:

 Name: "Al-Nasheed Al-Watani" (National Anthem)
Lyrics/music: Ahmad MUSHARI al-Adwani/Ibrahim Nasir al-SOULA

Note: adopted 1978; the anthem is only used on formal occasions

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Economy - Overview:

 Kuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - about 9% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 95% of government income. Kuwaiti officials have committed to increasing oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. The rise in global oil prices throughout 2010 is reviving government consumption and economic growth as Kuwait experiences a 20% increase in government budget revenue. Kuwait has done little to diversify its economy, in part, because of this positive fiscal situation, and, in part, due to the poor business climate and the acrimonious relationship between the National Assembly and the executive branch, which has stymied most movement on economic reforms. Nonetheless, the government in May 2010 passed a privatization bill that allows the government to sell assets to private investors, and in January passed an economic development plan that pledges to spend up to $130 billion in five years to diversify the economy away from oil, attract more investment, and boost private sector participation in the economy. Increasing government expenditures by so large an amount during the planned time frame may be difficult to accomplish.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $136.5 billion (2010 est.)
$133.9 billion (2009 est.)
$141.2 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $131.3 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 2% (2010 est.)
-5.2% (2009 est.)
5% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $48,900 (2010 est.)
$49,700 (2009 est.)
$54,300 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 0.3%
Industry: 48%
Services: 51.7% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 2.158 million

Note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: NA%
Industry: NA%
Services: NA%

Unemployment Rate:

 2.2% (2004 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:


Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 12.9% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $75.01 billion
Expenditures: $56.59 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 57.1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 14% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 9.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
11% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 4% (2010 est.)
4% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 1.25% (31 December 2010 est.)
3% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 2.9% (31 December 2010 est.)
6.2% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $16.05 billion (31 December 2009)
$15.31 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $71.79 billion (31 December 2009)
$63.08 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $20.05 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$16.44 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $91.35 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$86.81 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $99.52 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$91 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $119.6 billion (31 December 2010)
$95.94 billion (31 December 2009)
$107.2 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - Products:



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

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 4.8% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 49.82 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 42.58 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 2.45 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 354,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 2.127 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 104 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 11.49 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 12.38 billion cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 890 million cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 1.798 trillion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $43.14 billion (2010 est.)
$25.78 billion (2009 est.)


 $66.96 billion (2010 est.)
$51.69 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Oil and refined products, fertilizers

Exports - Partners:

 Japan 15.5%, India 15.3%, South Korea 13.5%, China 10.1%, US 8.4% (2010)


 $19.06 billion (2010 est.)
$17.29 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing

Imports - Partners:

 US 14.2%, China 9.5%, Saudi Arabia 7.3%, Japan 7.2%, Germany 6.1%, Italy 4.7%, India 4.4% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $21.36 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$20.38 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $45.43 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$45.49 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $36.73 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$34.66 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $2.128 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$2.048 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Kuwaiti Dinar to Any Currency

Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar -
0.2888 (2010)
0.2877 (2009)
0.2679 (2008)
0.2844 (2007)
0.29 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 566,300 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 4.4 million (2010)

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 mobile-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)

Broadcast Media:

 State-owned TV broadcaster operates 4 networks and a satellite channel; several private TV broadcasters have emerged since 2003; satellite TV is available with pan-Arab TV stations especially popular; state-owned Radio Kuwait broadcasts on a number of channels in Arabic and English; first private radio station emerged in 2005; transmissions of at least 2 international radio broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 6, FM 11, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 2,485 (2010)

Internet Users:

 1.1 million (2009)

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 7 (2010)

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 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
Under 914 m: 2 (2010)


 4 (2010)


 Gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2010)


 Total: 5,749 km
Paved: 4,887 km
Unpaved: 862 km (2004)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 30
By type: bulk carrier 1, carrier 3, container 6, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 16
Registered in other countries: 47 (Bahamas 2, Bahrain 5, Comoros 1, Libya 1, Malta 2, Panama 12, Qatar 7, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saudi Arabia 4, UAE 10) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

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

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Military Branches:

 Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 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 Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,002,480
Females age 16-49: 616,958 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 840,912
Females age 16-49: 523,206 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 17,653
Female: 16,232 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 5.3% of GDP (2006)

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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 are subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser degree, forced prostitution; men and women migrate from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, Jordan, Ethiopia, and Iraq to work in Kuwait, most of them in the domestic service, construction, and sanitation sectors; although most of these migrants enter Kuwait voluntarily, upon arrival some are subjected to conditions of forced labor by their sponsors and labor agents, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace

Tier rating: Tier 3 - Kuwait does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making sufficient efforts to do so; the government did not enact its draft comprehensive anti-trafficking law; Kuwait's victim-protection measures remain weak, particularly due to its lack of proactive victim-identification procedures and continued reliance on the sponsorship system, which causes victims of trafficking to be punished for immigration violations rather than protected (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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