Photoatlas Free interactive atlas with photos, facts, links and maps from around the world

  Flag of Kuwait  Information on Kuwait
Country Listing
Submit your own photo
Chat around the globe
Country Facts
Map of Kuwait


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

Geographic coordinates: 29 30 N, 45 45 E

Map references: Middle East

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

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey

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

Coastline: 499 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm

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

Terrain: flat to slightly undulating desert plain

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

Natural resources: petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 8%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 92% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 20 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April, they bring inordinate amounts of 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: Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Marine Dumping

Geography—note: strategic location at head of Persian Gulf


[Top of Page]

Population: 1,913,285 (July 1998 est.)
note: includes 1,168,185 non-nationals (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 32% (male 338,933; female 279,087)
15-64 years: 66% (male 811,713; female 444,679)
65 years and over: 2% (male 23,642; female 15,231) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 4.1% (1998 est.)
note: this rate reflects the continued post-Gulf crisis return of expatriates

Birth rate: 20.97 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 2.29 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 22.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.21 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.82 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.55 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 10.74 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.78 years
male: 74.76 years
female: 78.91 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.44 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti

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

Religions: Muslim 85% (Sunni 45%, Shi'a 40%), Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%

Languages: Arabic (official), English widely spoken

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.6%
male: 82.2%
female: 74.9% (1995 est.)


[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

Data code: KU

Government type: nominal constitutional monarchy

National capital: Kuwait

Administrative divisions: 5 governorates (muhafazat, singular—muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al Farwaniyah, Al 'Asimah, Al Jahra', Hawalli

Independence: 19 June 1961 (from UK)

National holiday: National Day, 25 February (1950)

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 have been naturalized for 30 years or more or have resided in Kuwait since 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 30 years were eligible to vote for the first time

Executive branch:
chief of state: Amir 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); First Deputy Prime Minister SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah (since 17 October 1992); Second Deputy Prime Minister SALIM al-Sabah al-Salim Al Sabah (since 7 October 1996)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir
elections: none; the amir is a hereditary monarch of the MUBARAK line of the ruling Sabah family; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the amir

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (50 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 October 1996 (next to be held NA October 2000)
election results: percent of vote—NA; seats—independents 50; note—all cabinet ministers are also ex officio members of the National Assembly

Judicial branch: High Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: none

Political pressure groups and leaders: several political groups act as de facto parties: Bedouins, merchants, Sunni and Shi'a activists, and secular leftists and nationalists

International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, BDEAC, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the 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

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James LAROCCO
embassy: Bneid al-Gar (opposite the Kuwait International Hotel), Kuwait City
mailing address: P.O. Box 77, SAFAT, 13001 SAFAT, Kuwait; Unit 69000, APO AE 09880-9000
telephone: [965] 539-5307 or 539-5308
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


[Top of Page]

Economy—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 averaged 2 million barrels per day in 1996. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues, and 75% of government income. 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, Kuwait provides its citizens with extensive health, educational, and retirement benefits. The bulk of the work force is non-Kuwaiti, living at a considerably lower level. Per capita military expenditures are among the highest in the world. The economy improved moderately in 1994-97, with the growth in industry and finance. The World Bank has urged Kuwait to push ahead with privatization, including in the oil industry, but the government will move slowly on opening the petroleum sector.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$46.3 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$22,300 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 0%
industry: 53%
services: 47% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 3.2% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 1.1 million (1996 est.)
by occupation: government and social services 50%, services 40%, industry and agriculture 10% (1996 est.)
note: 68% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)

Unemployment rate: 1.8% (official 1996 est.)

revenues: $10.3 billion
expenditures: $14.5 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY97/98 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 6.988 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 25 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 13,756 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: practically no crops; extensive fishing in territorial waters

total value: $14.7 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: oil and refined products, fertilizers
partners: Japan 29%, US 16%, Netherlands 13%, Singapore 12% (1996 est.)

total value: $7.7 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities : food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
partners: US 31%, UK 14%, Japan 13%, Germany 8%, Italy 7% (1996 est.)

Debt—external: $8 billion (1995 est.)

Economic aid: $NA

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

Exchange rates: Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US$1—0.3055 (January 1998), 0.3033 (1997), 0.2994 (1996), 0.2984 (1995), 0.2976 (1994), 0.3017 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 548,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system: the civil network suffered some damage as a result of the Gulf war, but most of the telephone exchanges were left intact and, by the end of 1994, domestic and international telecommunications had been restored to normal operation; 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, open wire and fiber-optic cable; a cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait and the country is well supplied with pay telephones
international: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations—3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean, 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean), and 1 Arabsat

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 0, shortwave 0

Radios: 720,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 3 (1986 est.)

Televisions: 800,000 (1993 est.)


[Top of Page]

Railways: 0 km

total: 4,450 km
paved: 3,587 km
unpaved: 863 km (1996 est.)

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

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

Merchant marine:
total: 42 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,965,633 GRT/3,109,720 DWT
ships by type: cargo 10, container 3, liquefied gas tanker 7, livestock carrier 3, oil tanker 19 (1997 est.)

Airports: 8 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 1 (1997 est.)





Click Here To Order National Geographic: The Photographs