[Country map of Kuwait]



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

Map references: Middle East

total area: 17,820 sq km
land area: 17,820 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries: total 464 km, Iraq 242 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km

Coastline: 499 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands; ownership of Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands disputed by Saudi Arabia

Climate: dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters

Terrain: flat to slightly undulating desert plain

Natural resources: petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 8%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 92%

Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1989 est.)

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
natural hazards: sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April, they bring inordinate amounts of rain which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and duststorms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August
international agreements: party to - Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping

Note: strategic location at head of Persian Gulf


Population: 1,817,397 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (female 302,908; male 319,659)
15-64 years: 64% (female 467,163; male 697,849)
65 years and over: 2% (female 13,476; male 16,342) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 7.46% (1995 est.)
note: this rate reflects the continued post-Gulf crisis return of nationals and expatriates

Birth rate: 21.07 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 2.2 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 55.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 11.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.64 years
male: 73.33 years
female: 78.06 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.93 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti

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

Religions: Muslim 85% (Shi'a 30%, Sunni 45%, other 10%), Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%

Languages: Arabic (official), English widely spoken

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1985)
total population: 74%
male: 78%
female: 69%

Labor force: 566,000 (1986)
by occupation: services 45.0%, construction 20.0%, trade 12.0%, manufacturing 8.6%, finance and real estate 2.6%, agriculture 1.9%, power and water 1.7%, mining and quarrying 1.4%
note: 70% of labor force non-Kuwaiti (1986)


conventional long form: State of Kuwait
conventional short form: Kuwait
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
local short form: Al Kuwayt

Digraph: KU

Type: nominal constitutional monarchy

Capital: Kuwait

Administrative divisions: 5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al 'Ahmadi, Al Jahrah, Al Kuwayt, Hawalli, Al Farwaniyah

Independence: 19 June 1961 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 25 February (1948)

Constitution: approved and promulgated 11 November 1962

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

Suffrage: adult males who resided in Kuwait before 1920 and their male descendants at age 21
note: only 10% of all citizens are eligible to vote; in 1996, naturalized citizens who do not meet the pre-1920 qualification but have been naturalized for thirty years will be eligible to vote

Executive branch:
chief of state: Amir Shaykh JABIR al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah (since 31 December 1977)
head of government: Prime Minister and Crown Prince SAAD al-Abdallah al-Salim Al Sabah (since 8 February 1978); Deputy Prime Minister SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah (since 17 October 1992)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the Prime Minister and approved by the Amir

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Majlis al-umma): dissolved 3 July 1986; new elections were held on 5 October 1992 with a second election in the 14th and 16th constituencies held February 1993

Judicial branch: High Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: none

Other political or pressure groups: small, clandestine leftist and Shi'a fundamentalist groups are active; several groups critical of government policies are publicly active


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

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ryan C. CROCKER
embassy: Bneid al-Gar (opposite the Kuwait International Hotel), Kuwait City
mailing address: P.O. Box 77 SAFAT, 13001 SAFAT, Kuwait; Unit 69000, Kuwait; APO AE 09880-9000
telephone: [965] 2424151 through 2424159
FAX: [965] 2442855

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side


Overview: Kuwait is a small and relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves of about 94 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Kuwait has rebuilt its war-ravaged petroleum sector; its crude oil production reached at least 2.0 million barrels per day by the end of 1993. The government ran a sizable fiscal deficit in 1993. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP and 90% of export and government revenues. Kuwait lacks water and has practically no arable land, thus preventing development of agriculture. With the exception of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported. Because of its high per capita income, comparable with Western European incomes, Kuwait provides its citizens with extensive health, educational, and retirement benefits. Per capita military expenditures are among the highest in the world. The economy improved moderately in 1994, with the growth in industry and finance, and should see further gains in 1995, especially if oil prices go up. The World Bank has urged Kuwait to push ahead with privatization, including in the oil industry, but the government will move slowly on this front.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $30.7 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 9.3% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $16,900 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (1993)

Unemployment rate: NEGL% (1992 est.)

revenues: $9 billion
expenditures: $13 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY92/93)

Exports: $10.5 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: oil
partners: France 16%, Italy 15%, Japan 12%, UK 11%

Imports: $6.6 billion (f.o.b., 1993)
commodities: food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
partners: US 35%, Japan 12%, UK 9%, Canada 9%

External debt: $7.2 billion (December 1989 est.)
note: external debt has grown substantially in 1991 and 1992 to pay for restoration of war damage

Industrial production: growth rate NA%; accounts for NA% of GDP

capacity: 7,070,000 kW
production: 11 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 6,007 kWh (1993)

Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing, building materials, salt, construction

Agriculture: practically none; extensive fishing in territorial waters and Indian Ocean

Economic aid:
donor: pledged bilateral aid to less developed countries (1979-89), $18.3 billion

Currency: 1 Kuwaiti dinar (KD) = 1,000 fils

Exchange rates: Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US$1 - 0.2991 (January 1995), 0.2976 (1994), 0.3017 (1993), 0.2934 (1992), 0.2843 (1991), 0.2915 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


Railroads: 0 km

total: 4,270 km
paved: bituminous 3,370 km
unpaved: gravel, sand, earth 900 km (est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 877 km; petroleum products 40 km; natural gas 165 km

Ports: Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Kuwait, Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi, Mina' Su'ud

Merchant marine:
total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,202,558 GRT/3,618,527 DWT
ships by type: cargo 9, container 3, liquefied gas tanker 7, livestock carrier 4, oil tanker 24

total: 8
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 2
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 1
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1


Telephone system: NA telephones; civil network suffered extensive damage as a result of the Gulf war and reconstruction is still under way with some restored international and domestic capabilities
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: earth stations destroyed during Gulf war and not rebuilt yet; temporary mobile satellite antennae provide international telecommunications; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; service to Iraq is nonoperational

broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 3
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Police Force, National Guard

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 610,205; males fit for military service 363,735; males reach military age (18) annually 16,170 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $3.4 billion, 13.3% of GDP (1995)