Facts about Oman

World Facts Index

Oman MosqueThe inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries.

Geography of Oman

Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
21 00 N, 57 00 E
total: 212,460 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 212,460 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries:
total: 1,374 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km
2,092 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point: Jabal Shams 2,980 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
Natural hazards:
summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Environment current issues:
rising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; very limited natural fresh water resources
Geography - note:
strategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil

Population of Oman

note: includes 577,293 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.7% (male 675,423/female 648,963)
15-64 years: 54.7% (male 1,001,917/female 695,578)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 44,300/female 36,048)
Median age:
19 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
18.89 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.37 years
male: 71.14 years
female: 75.72 years
Fertility rate:
5.77 children born/woman
noun: Omani(s)
adjective: Omani
Ethnic groups:
Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim, Shi'a Muslim, Hindu
Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects
total population: 75.8%
male: 83.1%
female: 67.2% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman
local long form: Saltanat Uman
former: Muscat and Oman
local short form: Uman
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
5 regions (manaatiq, singular - mintaqat) and 3 governorates* (muhaafazaat, singular - muhaafaza) Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah, Al Wusta, Ash Sharqiyah, Az Zahirah, Masqat*, Musandam*, Zufar (Dhofar)*
1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
National holiday:
Birthday of Sultan QABOOS, 18 November (1940)
none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a new basic law which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens
Legal system:
based on English common law and Islamic law; ultimate appeal to the monarch; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
in Oman's most recent Majlis al-Shura elections in 2003, suffrage was universal for all Omanis over age 21 except for members of the military and security forces; the next Majlis al-Shura elections are scheduled for 2007
Executive branch:
chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections: the monarch is hereditary
Legislative branch:
bicameral Majlis Oman consists of an upper chamber or Majlis al-Dawla (58 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has advisory powers only) and a lower chamber or Majlis al-Shura (83 seats; members elected by popular vote for four-year terms; body has some limited power to propose legislation, but otherwise has only advisory powers)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
note: the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has judges who practice secular and Shari'a law


Oman is a middle-income economy that is heavily dependent on dwindling oil resources, but sustained high oil prices in recent years have helped build Oman's budget and trade surpluses and foreign reserves. Oman joined the World Trade Organization in November 2000 and continues to liberalize its markets. It ratified a free trade agreement with the US in September 2006, and, through the Gulf Cooperation Council, seeks similar agreements with the EU, China and Japan. As a result of its dwindling oil resources, Oman is actively pursuing a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP to 9 percent by 2020. Muscat is attempting to "Omanize" the labor force by replacing foreign expatriate workers with local workers. Oman actively seeks private foreign investors, especially in the industrial, information technology, tourism, and higher education fields. Industrial development plans focus on gas resources, metal manufacturing, petrochemicals, and international transshipment ports.

$60.89 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 39%
services: 58.3%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
920,000 (2002 est.)
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
crude oil production and refining, natural gas production, construction, cement, copper
dates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish
petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles
Export partners:
China 23.4%, South Korea 17.6%, Japan 15.4%, Thailand 13.7%, UAE 6.2% 
machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants
Import partners:
UAE 19.5%, Japan 16.9%, UK 8.4%, US 7.2%, Germany 6.1% 
Omani rial (OMR)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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