Introduction    Kuwait Top of Page
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.
   Geography    Kuwait Top of Page
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates:
29 30 N, 45 45 E
Map references:
Middle East
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
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 location 306 mMount Ararat 5,166 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
Land use:
arable land: 0.84%
permanent crops: 0.17%
other: 98.99% (2005)
Irrigated land:
130 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
0.02 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
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 fresh water 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
   People    Kuwait Top of Page
note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2009 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.4% (male 361,150/female 348,518)
15-64 years: 70.7% (male 1,219,075/female 683,587)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 49,163/female 29,665) (2009 est.)
Median age:
total: 26.2 years
male: 28.1 years
female: 22.7 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate:
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2009 est.)
Birth rate:
21.81 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate:
2.35 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
Net migration rate:
16.02 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
urban population: 98% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 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: 1.66 male(s)/female
total population: 1.54 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 8.96 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.94 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.71 years
male: 76.51 years
female: 78.95 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.76 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti
Ethnic groups:
Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shia 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%
Arabic (official), English widely spoken
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 94.4%
female: 91% (2005 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
3.8% of GDP (2006)
   Government    Kuwait Top of Page
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
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:
civil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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
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 NASIR AL-MUHAMMAD al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 3 April 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBAREK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD AL-SABAH al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006)
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
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 16 May 2009 (next election to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by bloc - NA; seats by bloc - Sunni Muslim groups 11, liberals 7, Shiite Muslim groups 6, Popular Action Bloc 3, unaffiliated tribal groups 23
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 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
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
   Economy    Kuwait Top of Page
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$149.1 billion (2008 est.)
$137.5 billion (2007 est.)
$131.3 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$158.1 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
8.5% (2008 est.)
4.7% (2007 est.)
6.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$57,400 (2008 est.)
$54,900 (2007 est.)
$54,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.3%
industry: 52.2%
services: 47.5% (2008 est.)
Labor force:
2.088 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate:
2.2% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed):
18.3% of GDP (2008 est.)
revenues: $105.2 billion
expenditures: $58.08 billion (2008 est.)
Public debt:
7.5% of GDP (2008 est.) 29.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
10.6% (2008 est.) 5.5% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
NA% (31 December 2008) 6.25% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$15.31 billion (31 December 2008) $15.12 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$63.08 billion (31 December 2008) $55.2 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$83.93 billion (31 December 2008) $78.25 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$107.2 billion (31 December 2008) $188 billion (31 December 2007) $128.9 billion (31 December 2006)
Agriculture - products:
practically no crops; fish
petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate:
8% (2008 est.)
Electricity - production:
44.75 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
39.54 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
2.613 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
334,700 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.356 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - imports:
8,022 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves:
101.5 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas - production:
12.5 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
12.5 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.586 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance:
$47.48 billion (2007 est.) $47.48 billion (2007 est.)
$89.4 billion (2008 est.) $63.68 billion (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
oil and refined products, fertilizers
Exports - partners:
Japan 20.9%, South Korea 15%, US 10.2%, Singapore 9%, China 6.6%, Netherlands 4.2% (2008)
$24.91 billion (2008 est.) $20.63 billion (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
Imports - partners:
US 11.5%, Japan 8.9%, Germany 7.9%, China 7.1%, Saudi Arabia 6.8%, South Korea 6.5%, Italy 4.6%, India 4.2%, UK 4.1% (2008)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$17.23 billion (31 December 2008 est.) $16.78 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$36.93 billion (31 December 2008 est.) $33.62 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$1.22 billion (31 December 2008 est.) $942 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$28.29 billion (31 December 2008 est.) $16.93 billion (31 December 2007 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)
   Communications    Kuwait Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
541,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.907 million (2008)
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)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 6, FM 11, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
3,289 (2008)
Internet users:
900,000 (2007)
   Transportation    Kuwait Top of Page
7 (2009)
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 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2009)
4 (2009)
gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2008)
total: 5,749 km
paved: 4,887 km
unpaved: 862 km (2004)
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)
Ports and terminals:
Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi
   Military    Kuwait Top of Page
Military branches:
Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2008)
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: 1,032,408
females age 16-49: 568,657 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 935,525
females age 16-49: 519,854 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 18,122
female: 18,865 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures:
5.3% of GDP (2006)
   Transnational Issues    Kuwait Top of Page
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)

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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