Kuwait: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Middle-Eastern Nation


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

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
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%

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