Kuwait The Country

OFFICIAL NAME:

State of Kuwait

Geography

Area: 17,820 sq. km. (6,880 sq. mi.); approximately the size of the State of New Jersey.
Cities: Capital--Kuwait City.
Terrain: Almost entirely flat desert plain (highest elevation point--306 m).
Climate: Summers are intensely hot and dry with average highs ranging from 42o-49oC (108o-120oF); winters are short (Dec.-Feb.) and cool, averaging 10o-30oC (50o-80oF), with limited rain.


   People

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Kuwaiti(s).
Population (June 2008 est.): 3,399,637 including approximately 1.05 million Kuwaiti citizens and 2.34 million non-Kuwaiti nationals.

Government: Constitutional hereditary emirate
Emir: Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Prime Minister: Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah

Currency: Kuwaiti Dinars (KD)

Annual growth rate (2008 est.): 3.591%.
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%.
Religion: Muslim estimated 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30% among Kuwaitis), with sizable Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and Sikh communities.
Languages: Arabic (official), English is widely spoken.
Education: Compulsory from ages 6-14; free at all levels for Kuwaitis, including higher education. Adult literacy (age 15 and over)--93.3% for the total population (male 94.4%, female 91%) (2005 census).
Health: Infant mortality rate (2008 est.)--9.22 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2008 est.)--76.38 yrs. male, 78.73 yrs. female.
Work force (2007 est.): 2.093 million (76% male; 24% female; 20% Kuwaiti citizens).


   History

Archaeological finds on Failaka, the largest of Kuwait's nine islands, suggest that Failaka was a trading post at the time of the ancient Sumerians. Failaka appears to have continued to serve as a market for approximately 2,000 years, and was known to the ancient Greeks. Despite its long history as a market and sanctuary for traders, Failaka appears to have been abandoned as a permanent settlement in the 1st century A.D. Kuwait's modern history began in the 18th century with the founding of the city of Kuwait by the Uteiba, a subsection of the Anaiza tribe, who are believed to have traveled north from Qatar.

Threatened in the 19th century by the Ottoman Turks and various powerful Arabian Peninsula groups, Kuwait sought the same treaty relationship Britain had already signed with the Trucial States (UAE) and Bahrain. In January 1899, the ruler Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah--"the Great"--signed an agreement with the British Government that pledged himself and his successors neither to cede any territory, nor to receive agents or representatives of any foreign power without the British Government's consent, in exchange for protection and an annual subsidy. When Mubarak died in 1915, the population of Kuwait of about 35,000 was heavily dependent on shipbuilding (using wood imported from India) and pearl diving.

Mubarak was succeeded as ruler by his sons Jabir (1915-17) and Salem (1917-21). Kuwait's subsequent rulers have descended from these two brothers. Sheikh Ahmed al-Jabir Al Sabah ruled Kuwait from 1921 until his death in 1950, a period in which oil was discovered and in which the government attempted to establish the first internationally recognized boundaries; the 1922 Treaty of Uqair set Kuwait's border with Saudi Arabia and also established the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone, an area of about 5,180 sq. km. (2,000 sq. mi.) adjoining Kuwait's southern border.

Kuwait achieved independence from the British under Sheikh Ahmed's successor, Sheikh Abdullah al-Salem Al Sabah. By early 1961, the British had already withdrawn their special court system, which handled the cases of foreigners resident in Kuwait, and the Kuwaiti Government began to exercise legal jurisdiction under new laws drawn up by an Egyptian jurist. On June 19, 1961, Kuwait became fully independent following an exchange of notes with the United Kingdom.

Kuwait enjoyed an unprecedented period of prosperity under Amir Sabah al-Salem Al Sabah, who died in 1977 after ruling for 12 years. Under his rule, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement dividing the Neutral Zone (now called the Divided Zone) and demarcating a new international boundary. Both countries share equally the Divided Zone's petroleum, onshore and offshore. The country was transformed into a highly developed welfare state with a free market economy.

In August 1990, Iraq attacked and invaded Kuwait. Kuwait's northern border with Iraq dates from an agreement reached with Turkey in 1913. Iraq accepted this claim in 1932 upon its independence from Turkey. However, following Kuwait's independence in 1961, Iraq claimed Kuwait, arguing that Kuwait had been part of the Ottoman Empire subject to Iraqi suzerainty. In 1963, Iraq reaffirmed its acceptance of Kuwaiti sovereignty and the boundary it agreed to in 1913 and 1932, in the "Agreed Minutes between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq Regarding the Restoration of Friendly Relations, Recognition, and Related Matters."

Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a UN-mandated coalition led by the United States began a ground assault in February 1991 that liberated Kuwait. During the 7-month occupation by Iraq, the Amir, the Government of Kuwait, and many Kuwaitis took refuge in Saudi Arabia and other nations. The Amir and the government successfully managed Kuwaiti affairs from Saudi Arabia, London, and elsewhere during the period, relying on substantial Kuwaiti investments available outside Kuwait for funding and war-related expenses.

Following liberation, the UN, under Security Council Resolution 687, demarcated the Iraq-Kuwait boundary on the basis of the 1932 and the 1963 agreements between the two states. In November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait, which had been further spelled out in UN Security Council Resolutions 773 and 883.


    Oil

In 1934, the ruler of Kuwait granted an oil concession to the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), jointly owned by the British Petroleum Company and Gulf Oil Corporation. In 1976, the Kuwaiti Government nationalized KOC. The following year, Kuwait took over part of onshore production in the Divided Zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) produces jointly there with Saudi Arabian Chevron, which, by its 1984 purchase of Getty Oil Company, acquired the Saudi Arabian onshore concession in the Divided Zone. Saudi Arabia renewed Chevron's concession in the Divided Zone for another 30 years effective from February 2009. KGOC also manages offshore production operations, while Aramco Gulf Oil Company (AGOC) manages the Saudi portion of the offshore Divided Zone.

Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), an integrated, state-owned oil company, is the parent company of the government's operating companies in the petroleum sector, and includes Kuwait Oil Company, which produces oil and gas; Kuwait National Petroleum Company, which manages refining and domestic sales; Petrochemical Industries Company, which produces ammonia, urea, ethylene, propylene, and styrene and participates in a number of successful joint ventures with Dow Chemical within Kuwait and abroad; Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, which is responsible for exploration and upstream production outside Kuwait (in several developing countries and Australia); Kuwait Oil Tanker Company.; Kuwait Gulf Oil Company, responsible for exploration and production in the Kuwait portions of the offshore and onshore Divided Zone; and Kuwait Petroleum International, which manages refining and retail operations outside Kuwait (in Europe and East Asia).

According to official Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) figures, Kuwait has approximately 101.5 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, including the Kuwaiti share of proven reserves in the Divided Zone, the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, and Iraq. Kuwait recently began limited production from a 35 trillion cubic feet natural gas field discovered in 2006. By 1993 Kuwait had restored its production capacity to its pre-occupation levels of 2.4 million bpd. Kuwait's current oil production capacity is estimated to be 2.8 million bpd. Kuwait plans to increase its capacity to 3.5 million bpd by 2015 and 4.0 million bpd by 2020. Many analysts question whether these goals are feasible. Oil revenues comprise about 95% of exports and 95% of total government revenues. Kuwaiti export crude averaged about $66/barrel in 2007.

KPC purchased from Gulf Oil Co. refineries in the Netherlands and Italy and service stations in the Benelux nations, Italy, and Scandinavia. In 1987, KPC bought a 19% share in British Petroleum, which was later reduced to 10%. KPC markets its products in Europe under the brand name Q8. In 2006, KPC announced plans to participate in a joint venture to build and operate a refinery and associated petrochemical plant in China. In April 2008, KPC signed a joint venture agreement with Idemitsu Kosan - Japan to hold a 35.1% stake, worth $6 billion, of Vietnam's second refinery.

On May 12, 2008, KPC awarded a $14 billion project to construct a fourth refinery to several international firms. The project would increase refining capacity from the current 930,000 barrels/day to 1.5 million barrels/day by 2012. As of January 2009, the project was stalled in the face of parliamentary opposition.