Kuwait

Introduction 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.
History

The history of Kuwait goes back to the year 1612. Tribes from central Arabia settled in Kuwait under the suzerainty of the Banu Khaled in the 18th-century after experiencing massive drought in their native land. These tribes came to be known as the Utub of Qurain. Qurain, as Kuwait was known before, became a major center for spice trading between India and Europe. By late 18th-century, most of the local people made a living selling pearls. Because of internal conflicts and rivalry with the Wahhabis of the Arabian Peninsula, Benu Khaled's influence over Kuwait gradually waned and the Utub gained greater independence. In 1756, the Utub elected Sabah I bin Jaber as the first emir of Kuwait. The current ruling family of Kuwait, al-Sabah, are descendants of Sabah I.

As the influence of the Ottoman Empire increased in the region, Kuwait was assigned the status of a caza of the Ottomans. After the signing of the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913, then emir of Kuwait, Mubarak Al-Sabah, was diplomatically recognized by both the Ottomans and British as the ruler of the autonomous caza of the city of Kuwait and the hinterlands. The 1922 Treaty of Uqair set Kuwait's border with Saudi Arabia and also established the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone, an area of about 5,180 km² adjoining Kuwait's southern border. Oil was first discovered in Kuwait in the 1930s and the government became more proactive in establishing internationally recognized boundaries. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was financially crippled and the invading British forces invalidated the Anglo-Ottoman Convention, declaring Kuwait to be an "independent sheikdom under British protectorate".

On June 19, 1961, Kuwait became fully independent following an exchange of notes between the United Kingdom and the then emir of Kuwait, Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah. The Gulf rupee, issued by the Reserve Bank of India, was replaced by the Kuwaiti dinar. The discovery of large oil fields, such as the Burgan field, triggered a large influx of foreign investments into Kuwait. The massive growth of the petroleum industry transformed Kuwait into one of the richest countries in the Arabian Peninsula and by 1952, the country became the largest exporter of oil in the Persian Gulf. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Egypt and India. Kuwait settled its boundary disputes with Saudi Arabia and agreed on sharing equally the neutral zone's petroleum reserves, onshore and offshore. After a brief stand-off over boundary issues, Iraq formally recognized Kuwait's independence and its borders in October 1963. During the 1970s, the Kuwaiti government nationalized the Kuwait Oil Company, ending its partnership with Gulf Oil and British Petroleum. In 1982, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash.

USAF aircraft (F-16, F-15C and F-15E) fly over Kuwaiti oil fires, set by the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Kuwait had heavily funded Iraq's eight year-long war with Iran. By the time the war ended, Kuwait decided not to forgive Iraq's US$ 65 billion debt. An economic warfare between the two countries followed after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent.Tensions between the two countries increased after Iraq alleged that Kuwait was slant drilling oil from its share of the Rumaila field.[17]. On 2 August, 1990 Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait. Saddam Hussein, then President of Iraq, deposed the emir of Kuwait, Jaber Al-Sabah, and installed Ali Hassan al-Majid as the new governor of Kuwait.[18] After a series of failed diplomatic negotiations, the United States-led coalition of thirty-four nations fought the Persian Gulf War to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The coalition successfully liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation on February 26, 1991.[19] Kuwait paid the coalition forces US$17 billion for their war efforts.[20]

During their retreat, the Iraqi armed forces carried out a scorched earth policy by damaging 700 oil wells in Kuwait, of which approximately 600 were set on fire.[21] It was estimated that by the time Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation, about 5 to 6 million barrels (950,000 m³) of oil was being burned in a single day because of these fires.Oil and soot accumulation had affected the entire Persian Gulf region and large oil lakes were created holding approximately 25 to 50 million barrels (7,900,000 m³) of oil[23] and covering 5% of Kuwait's land area.[24] In total, about 11 million barrels (1,700,000 m³) of oil was released into the Persian Gulf[25] and an additional 2% of Kuwait's 96 billion barrels (15,300,000,000 m³) of crude oil reserves were burned by the time the oil fires were brought under control.[26] The fires took more than nine months to extinguish fully and it took Kuwait more than 2 years and US$50 billion in infrastructure reconstruction to reach pre-invasion oil output. Kuwait has since largely recovered from the socio-economic, environmental, and public health effects of the Gulf war.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 29 30 N, 45 45 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 17,820 sq km
land: 17,820 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
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: 0.84%
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
Politics

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy and has the oldest directly elected parliament of the Persian Gulf Arab countries. The head of state is the Emir or Sheikh, a hereditary office. The Emir appoints the prime minister, who until recently was also the crown prince. A council of ministers aids the prime minister in his task as head of government which must contain at least one elected member of the parliament. The number of ministers must not exceed one-third of the elected members of the parliament.

The parliament has the power to dismiss the prime minister or anyone of his cabinet through a series of constitutional procedures. According to the constitution, nomination of a new crown prince or head of state (Emir) by the ruling family has to be confirmed by the National Assembly. If he does not win the votes of the majority of the assembly, the Emir (or the royal family members) must submit the names of three candidates to the National Assembly, and the Assembly must select one of these to be the new crown prince. The parliament known as the Majlis Al-Umma (National Assembly), consists of fifty elected members, who are chosen in elections held every four years. Government ministers, according to the Constitution of the State, are given membership in the parliament, and can number up to sixteen excluded from the fifty elected members.

Prior to 2005, only 15% of the Kuwaiti citizen population was allowed to vote, with all women, "recently naturalized" citizens (i.e. those of less than thirty years' citizenship), and members of the armed forces excluded. On May 16, 2005, Parliament permitted women's suffrage by a 35-23 vote, subject to official interpretation of Islamic law and effective for the 2006 Parliamentary Election. The decision could raise Kuwait's voter rolls from 139,000 to as many as 339,000 if all eligible women register; the total number of Kuwaitis is estimated at more than 960,000. Recently, the former Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah announced the appointment of Dr Massouma Mubarak as planning minister and minister of state for administrative development affairs. The appointment of a woman as a cabinet minister was a major breakthrough in Kuwaiti political system and it makes Kuwait the third country in the conservative Persian Gulf Arab monarchies to have a woman cabinet minister. On the other hand, the government has managed to pass laws in the years 2005-2006 that restrict the freedom of speech. Laws such as the new media law, has become a huge obstacle for writers and citizens who might consider criticizing the government's performance. Lately there have been many newspaper writers sent to court for stating their opinions regarding the government or specific ministries' performance including a court order to shut down a leading Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan for three days and a magazine editor being sent to jail for criticizing the government action towards a specific incident.

People Population: 2,596,799
note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.6% (male 351,057/female 338,634)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 1,172,460/female 659,927)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 46,770/female 27,951) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 26.1 years
male: 28 years
female: 22.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.591%
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 21.9 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.37 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 16.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 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: 1.67 male(s)/female
total population: 1.53 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.53 years
male: 76.38 years
female: 78.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.81 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Religions: Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%
Languages: Arabic (official), English widely spoken
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 94.4%
female: 91% (2005 census)
Government 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
Capital: 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
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: NA 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 MUHAMMAD al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 3 April 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister JABIR Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers MUHAMMAD al-Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006) and Faysal al-HAJJI (since 5 April 2007)
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 29 June 2006 (next election to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by bloc - NA; seats by bloc - Islamic Bloc (Sunni) 17, Popular Bloc 9, National Action Bloc (liberals) 8, independents 16
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: a number of political groups act as de facto parties; several legislative blocs operate in the National Assembly: tribal groups, merchants, Shi'a activists, Islamists, secular liberals and pro-government deputies; in mid-2006, a coalition of Islamists, liberals, and Shia campaigned successfully for electoral reform to reduce corruption
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, BDEAC, CAEU, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
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) 966-0517
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Alan MISENHEIMER
embassy: Bayan 36302, Area 14, 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
Culture

Media

Kuwait has one of the most vocal and transparent media in the Arab World.[77] Though the government funds several leading newspapers and satellite channels,[78] Kuwaiti journalists enjoy greater freedom than their regional counterparts.[79] State-owned Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) is the largest media house in the country. The Ministry of Information regulates all media and communication industry in Kuwait.[80]

In 1998, there were 6 AM and 11 FM radio stations and 13 television stations. In 2000, there were 624 radios and 486 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2001, there were 165,000 Internet subscribers served by three service providers.[81] Kuwait has ten satellite television channels of which four are controlled by the Ministry of Information. State-owned Kuwait Television (KTV) offered first colored broadcast in 1974 and operates three television channels.[82] Government-funded Radio Kuwait also offers daily informative programming in four foreign languages including Persian, Urdu, Tagalog and English on the AM and SW.

In 1998, Kuwait had eight major daily newspapers in circulation of which two were in English and six were in Arabic. In 2002, the Arab Times was the most popular English daily followed by the Kuwait Times. Al-Anabaa, with a circulation of 106,800 copies, was the most widely read Arabic daily.[83] A press law forbids insulting references to God and Islamic prophet Muhammad. Another law which made leading newspaper publishers eligible for hefty fines for criticizing the ruling family was lifted in 1992. Leading newspapers continue to impose self-restraint while being critical of the emir. However, no such restraint is observed while criticizing the government.

Economy Economy - overview: Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 104 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. High oil prices in recent years have helped build Kuwait's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. As a result of this positive fiscal situation, the need for economic reforms is less urgent and the government has not earnestly pushed through new initiatives. Despite its vast oil reserves, Kuwait experienced power outages during the summer months in 2006 and 2007 because demand exceeded power generating capacity. Power outages are likely to worsen, given its high population growth rates, unless the government can increase generating capacity. In May 2007 Kuwait changed its currency peg from the US dollar to a basket of currencies in order to curb inflation and to reduce its vulnerability to external shocks.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $138.6 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $103.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $55,300 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 54.7%
services: 44.9% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 1.167 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Unemployment rate: 2.2% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.9% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 20.9% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $66.92 billion
expenditures: $36.39 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 7.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: practically no crops; fish
Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate: 0.8% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 41.11 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 36.28 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 2.669 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 333,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 2.2 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 2,611 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 104 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 11.8 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 11.8 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 1.521 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $51.49 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $59.57 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: oil and refined products, fertilizers
Exports - partners: Japan 20.4%, South Korea 16.2%, Taiwan 10.8%, Singapore 9.7%, US 9%, Netherlands 5.3%, China 4.1% (2006)
Imports: $17.74 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
Imports - partners: US 14.1%, Germany 7.9%, Japan 7.8%, Saudi Arabia 6.8%, China 5.7%, UK 5.4%, Italy 4.6% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $2.6 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $19.63 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $33.61 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $818 million (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $13.3 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $128.9 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Kuwaiti dinar (KD)
Currency code: KWD
Exchange rates: Kuwaiti dinars per US dollar - 0.2844 (2007), 0.29 (2006), 0.292 (2005), 0.2947 (2004), 0.298 (2003)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 510,300 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.536 million (2006)
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)
Radios: 1.175 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)
Televisions: 875,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .kw
Internet hosts: 2,013 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 3 (2000)
Internet users: 816,700 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 7 (2007)
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 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Heliports: 4 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 269 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 5,749 km
paved: 4,887 km
unpaved: 862 km (2004)
Merchant marine: total: 38 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,195,831 GRT/3,566,308 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 1, container 6, liquefied gas 5, livestock carrier 3, petroleum tanker 21
registered in other countries: 28 (Bahrain 3, Comoros 1, Liberia 1, Libya 1, Panama 1, Qatar 7, Saudi Arabia 6, UAE 8) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi
Military Military branches: Land Forces, Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya), National Guard (2007)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; reserve obligation to age 40 with 1 month annual training; women have served in police forces since 1999 (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 864,745
females age 18-49: 467,120 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 737,292
females age 18-49: 405,207 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 18,743
females age 18-49: 20,065 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 5.3% (2006)
Transnational Issues 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 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; in past years, Kuwait was also a destination country for children exploited as camel jockeys, but this form of trafficking appears to have ceased
tier rating: Tier 3 - insufficient efforts in 2006 to prosecute and punish abusive employers and those who traffic women for sexual exploitation; the government failed for the third 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