Facts about Kuwait

World Facts Index

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.

Geography of Kuwait

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
29 30 N, 45 45 E
total: 17,820 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 17,820 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
total: 462 km
border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km
499 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters
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
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
Geography - note:
strategic location at head of Persian Gulf

Population of Kuwait

note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.9% (male 331,768/female 319,895)
15-64 years: 70.3% (male 1,085,721/female 613,746)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 42,460/female 24,803)
Median age:
25.9 years
Growth rate:
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates
Infant mortality:
9.71 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.2 years
male: 76.13 years
female: 78.31 years
Fertility rate:
2.91 children born/woman
noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti
Ethnic groups:
Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%), Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%
Arabic (official), English widely spoken
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.5%
male: 85.1%
female: 81.7% 


Country name:
conventional long form: State of Kuwait
local short form: Al Kuwayt
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
Government type:
nominal constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
5 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al Farwaniyah, Al 'Asimah, Al Jahra', Hawalli
19 June 1961 (from UK)
National holiday:
National Day, 25 February (1950)
approved and promulgated 11 November 1962
Legal system:
civil law system with Islamic law significant in personal matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
adult males who are not in the military forces, and adult females (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)
note - all cabinet ministers are also ex officio members of the National Assembly
Judicial branch:
High Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
none; formation of political parties is illegal
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, and secular liberals.


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.

$140 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 47.9%
services: 51.6%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
1.67 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% 
petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing, construction materials
practically no crops; fish
oil and refined products, fertilizers
Export partners:
Japan 21.2%, South Korea 13.4%, US 12.8%, Singapore 10.2%, Taiwan 9.7%, Netherlands 4.7% 
food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing
Import partners:
US 14.2%, Germany 11.3%, Japan 8.5%, UK 6%, Saudi Arabia 5%, France 4.9%, China 4.5% 
Kuwaiti dinar (KD)

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

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