Kuwait Explained

Native Name:دولة الكويت
Dawlat al-Kuwait
Conventional Long Name:State of Kuwait
Common Name:Kuwait
National Anthem:Al-Nasheed Al-Watani
National anthem of Kuwait
Official Languages:Arabic
Demonym:Kuwaiti
Capital:Kuwait City
Latd:29
Latm:22
Lats:11
Latns:N
Longd:47
Longm:58
Longs:42
Longew:E
Largest City:capital
Government Type:Unitary hereditary Constitutional monarchy [1]
Leader Title1:Emir
Leader Name1:Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Leader Title2:Prime Minister
Leader Name2:Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah
Sovereignty Type:Establishment
Established Event1:First Settlement
Established Date1:1613
Established Event2:Anglo-Ottoman Convention
Established Date2:1913
Established Event3:Independence from the United Kingdom
Established Date3:19 June 1961
Area Rank:157th
Legislature:Majlis al-Umma
Area Magnitude:1 E10
Area Km2:17,820
Area Sq Mi:6,880
Percent Water:negligible
Ethnic Groups:33.9% Kuwaiti Arabs
45.9% Other Arabs
13.5% South and East Asian
1.9% Iranian
4.8% Europeans and Americans
Population Estimate:3,566,437[2]
Population Estimate Year:2010
Population Estimate Rank:131st
Population Density Km2:200.2
Population Density Sq Mi:518.4
Population Density Rank:61st
Gdp Ppp:$136.495 billion[3]
Gdp Ppp Year:2011
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$46,969
Gdp Nominal:$172.778 billion
Gdp Nominal Rank:52nd
Gdp Nominal Year:2011
Gdp Nominal Per Capita:$39,497
Gdp Nominal Per Capita Rank:16th
Hdi: 0.760[4]
Hdi Rank:63rd
Hdi Year:2011
Hdi Category:high
Currency:Kuwaiti dinar
Currency Code:KWD
Time Zone:AST / KSA
Utc Offset:+3
Time Zone Dst:not observed
Utc Offset Dst:+3
Date Format:dd/mm/yyyy (CE)
Drives On:Right
Cctld:.kw
Calling Code:965
Website:http://www.e.gov.kw/sites/KgoEnglish/portal/Pages/PortalMain.aspx

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت, Dawlat al-Kuwayt) is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic أكوات ākwāt, the plural of كوت kūt, meaning a fortress built near water.[5] The country covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 sq mi) and has a population of about 3.5 million.[2]

Historically, the region was the site of Characene, a major Parthian port for trade between Mesopotamia and India. The Bani Utbah tribe were the first permanent Arab settlers in the region, and laid the foundation of the modern emirate. By the 19th century, Kuwait came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire, and after World War I, it emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's large oil fields were discovered in the late 1930s.

After Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, the state's oil industry saw unprecedented economic growth. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. The seven month-long Iraqi occupation came to an end after a direct military intervention by United States-led forces. Around 773 Kuwaiti oil wells were set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi army resulting in a major environmental and economic catastrophe.[6] Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt.[7]

Kuwait is a constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system of government, with Kuwait City serving as the country's political and economic capital. The country has the world's fifth largest oil reserves[8] and petroleum products now account for nearly 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income.[9] Kuwait is the eleventh richest country in the world per capita. In 2007, it had the highest human development index (HDI) in the Arab world.[10] Kuwait is classified as a high income economy by the World Bank and is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.[11]

History

See main article: History of Kuwait.

In the 4th century BC, the ancient Greeks colonized an island off Kuwait's coast, now known as Failaka, and named it "Ikaros".[12] By 123 BC, the region came under the influence of the Parthian Empire and was closely associated with the southern Mesopotamian town of Charax.[13] In 224 AD, the region fell under the control of Sassanid Empire and came to be known as Hajar.[14] By the 14th century, the area comprising modern-day Kuwait became a part of the Islamic caliphate.[15]

The first permanent settlers in the region came from Bani Khalid tribe of Nejd and established the state of Kuwait.[15] In 1756, the people elected Sabah I bin Jaber as the first Emir of Kuwait.[16] The current ruling family of Kuwait, al-Sabah, are descendants of Sabah I. During the rule of the Al-Sabah, Kuwait progressively became a center of trade and commerce. It now served as a hub of trade between India, the horn of Africa, the Nejd, Mesopotamia and the Levant. Until the advent of Japanese pearl farming, Kuwait had one of the largest sea fleets in the Persian Gulf region and a flourishing pearling industry. Trade consisted mainly of pearls, wood, spices, dates and horses.

In 1899, Kuwait entered into a treaty with the United Kingdom that gave the British extensive control over the foreign policy of Kuwait in exchange for protection and annual subsidy.[17] This treaty was primarily prompted by fears that the proposed Berlin-Baghdad Railway would lead to an expansion of German influence in the Persian Gulf. 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.[18] However, soon after the start of World War I, the British invalidated the convention and declared Kuwait an independent principality under the protection of the British Empire.[19] 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.

On 19 June 1961, Kuwait became fully independent following an exchange of notes between the United Kingdom and the then Emir of Kuwait, Abdullah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah.[18] The Gulf rupee, issued by the Reserve Bank of India, was replaced by the Kuwaiti dinar. The discovery of large oil fields, especially the Burgan field, triggered a large influx of foreign investments into Kuwait. The massive growth of the petroleum industry transformed Kuwait from a poor pearl farming community 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 region. 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 and decrease in oil price.[20] However, the crisis was short-lived as Kuwait's oil production increased steadily to fill the gap caused by decrease in Iraq's and Iran's oil production levels following the events of the Iran–Iraq War. In 1983, a series of six bomb explosions took place in Kuwait killing five people. The attack was carried out by Shiite Dawa Party to retaliate Kuwait's financial support to Iraq during its war with Iran.[21]

Kuwait had heavily funded Iraq's eight year-long war with Iran. After the war ended, Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its US$65 billion debt.[22] An economic warfare between the two countries followed after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent.[23] Tensions between the two countries increased further after Iraq alleged that Kuwait was slant drilling oil from its share of the Rumaila field.[23]

On 2 August 1990, Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait. A long-time ally of Saddam Hussein, Yemen's President, Ali Abdullah Saleh was quick to back Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.[24] Saddam Hussein, then President of Iraq, deposed the Emir of Kuwait, Jaber Al-Sabah, and initially propped up a puppet régime before annexing Kuwait and installing Ali Hassan al-Majid as the new governor of Kuwait.[25] During the Iraqi occupation, about 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed and more than 300,000 residents fled the country.[26] After a series of failed diplomatic negotiations, the United States-led coalition of thirty-four nations fought the Gulf War to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. On 26 February 1991, the coalition succeeded in driving out the Iraqi forces, restoring the Kuwaiti Emir to power.[27] Kuwait paid the coalition forces US$17 billion for their war efforts.[27]

During their retreat from the coalition, the Iraqi armed forces carried out a scorched earth policy by damaging 737 oil wells in Kuwait, of which approximately 600 were set on fire.[28] It was estimated that by the time Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation, about 5 to 6Moilbbl of oil was being burned in a single day because of these fires.[29]

Oil and soot accumulation had affected the entire Persian Gulf region and large oil lakes were created holding approximately 25 to 50Moilbbl of oil[30] and covering 5% of Kuwait's land area.[28] In total, about 11Moilbbl of oil was released into the Persian Gulf[31] and an additional 2% of Kuwait's 96Goilbbl of crude oil reserves were burned by the time the oil fires were brought under control.[32] 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.[33] Kuwait has since largely recovered from the socio-economic, environmental, and public health effects of the Persian Gulf War.

Politics

See main article: Politics of Kuwait and Human rights in Kuwait.

See also: Al-Sabah, Elections in Kuwait and Political Issues in Kuwait.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy and has the oldest directly elected parliament among the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.Currently the country is under the reign of the Al Sabah family. The head of state is the Emir or Sheikh, a hereditary office. A council of ministers, also known as cabinet ministers, aids the Prime Minister, and appoints and dismisses diplomats. Legislative power is vested in the Emir and the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution. The Emir of Kuwait can dissolve the National Assembly and call a national election, or in cases of national emergency can dismiss the National Assembly outright and assume supreme authority over the country. The Emir is the commander in chief of Kuwait's armed forces. The Emir has authority to grant pardon from the death penalty or prison.

The National Assembly consists of fifty elected members, who are chosen in elections held every four years. Government ministers are also granted membership in the parliament and can number up to sixteen excluding the fifty elected members. According to the Constitution of Kuwait, nomination of a new Emir or Crown Prince by the ruling Al-Sabah family has to be approved by the National Assembly. If the nominee does not win the votes of the Assembly, and the Assembly must approve one of them to hold the post. Any amendment to the constitution can be proposed by the Emir but it needs to be approved by more than two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly before being implemented.[34]

There have been several conflicts between the Emir, the government and the National Assembly over various policies. The National Assembly was suspended from 1976 to 1981, from 1986 to 1991 and from May 1999 to July 1999, due to irresolvable conflicts between some members of the government and the Assembly.[35] The Assembly was dissolved again in May 2009 by the Emir leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah and the rest of the Cabinet.[36] Nationwide elections were held on 16 May 2009.[37]

More than two-thirds of those who reside in Kuwait do not hold Kuwaiti citizenship and thus cannot vote in parliamentary elections. Additionally, prior to 2005, only 15% of the Kuwaiti population were allowed to vote, with all "recently naturalized" citizens (i.e. those of less than thirty years' citizenship), and members of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces excluded. On 16 May 2005, Parliament permitted women's suffrage by a 35–23 vote.

The decision raised Kuwait's eligible voter population from 139,000 to about 339,000. In 2006, Kuwaiti citizens were estimated to be more than 960,000. In 2005, the former Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah announced the appointment of the first woman as a cabinet minister, Massouma Mubarak. She was designated Planning Minister and Minister of State for Administrative Development Affairs.[38] During the 2008 parliamentary elections, 27 of the 275 candidates were women. However, none of them won.[39] In the parliamentary elections on 16 May 2009, 16 female candidates contested for 50 seats for a four-year term. Four female candidates won their seats and became Kuwait's first female lawmakers.[40]

In April 2010, Kuwait's government, unhappy about possible democratic change in Egypt by Mohamed ElBaradei's National Association for Change, deported 17 Egyptians for trying to organize a local chapter of the Association in Kuwait.[41]

Heads of Kuwait

Supreme Commander: Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah

Executive Branch: Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah

Legislative Branch: ----

Judicial Branch: Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Kuwait Courts

Foreign relations and military

See main article: Foreign relations of Kuwait. The State of Kuwait became the 111th member state of the United Nations on 14 May 1963. It is a long-standing member of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It is also a key member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), along with Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Having modeled the GCC on the European Union, member states enjoy free trade and citizens of GCC member states can travel to other GCC countries with their civil identification, not requiring visas.

Kuwait's relationship with its neighbors has been influenced by the Sunni-Shia conflict. After the Iranian revolution of 1979, Sunni-majority Kuwait began supporting the Sunni regime of Iraq's Saddam Hussein in its subsequent eight-year war with the hardline Shia regime of Iran. Despite prior tensions, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia provided considerable financial support to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Kuwait's ties with Iraq remained severed after the 1991 Gulf War, until the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Kuwait enjoys a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia, which provided considerable support for the deposed royal family of Kuwait. Although fairly cordial, Kuwait's relations with Iran remain hinged on the stability of the Shia-Sunni conflict and rival goals for the control of the Persian Gulf. Kuwait's ties with states that supported Saddam Hussein's invasion, such as Yemen and the Palestine Liberation Organization, remain testy, although Kuwait has always refused to establish ties with Israel.

Kuwait enjoys a strong relationship with the United States, playing host to major U.S. military bases. Following U.S. leadership in the effort to liberate Kuwait, both nations have forged close political and economic relations. Although most Arab nations expressed opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Kuwait supported it and provided its territory as a launching pad for the invasion.

The State of Kuwait spends close to US$ 5 billion for defense. Its military consists of the Kuwaiti army, with an estimated strength of 15,000 personnel, the Kuwaiti navy, with 2,000 naval personnel and 400 coast guards, and the Kuwaiti Air Force, with an estimated strength of 2,500 personnel. The Kuwaiti National Guard is the main internal security force. Owing to its demographics and small population, Kuwait has not been able to build a sizeably large military and therefore collaborates extensively with foreign nations to preserve its security. After liberation from Iraq, Kuwait signed long-term defense cooperation agreements with the United States, Britain and France, and purchased military equipment from Egypt, Russia and the People's Republic of China as well.

Geography and climate

See main article: Geography of Kuwait. Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. It lies between latitudes 28° and 31° N, and longitudes 46° and 49° E. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. The country is generally low lying, with the highest point being 3060NaN0 above sea-level.[9] It has nine islands, all of which with the exception of Failaka Island are uninhabited.[42] With an area of 860km2, the Bubiyan is the largest island in Kuwait and is connected to the rest of the country by a 23800NaN0 long bridge.[43]

Notes and References

  1. Nominal succession within the House of Sabah.
  2. Web site: The Public Authority for Civil Information.
  3. Web site: Kuwait. International Monetary Fund. 8 December 2011.
  4. Web site: Human Development Report 2011. 2011. United Nations. 19 January 2011.
  5. Lesko, John P. "Kuwait," World Education Encyclopedia: A Survey of Educational Systems Worldwide, vol. 2, edited by Rebecca Marlow-Ferguson. Detroit, MI: Gale Group, 2002.
  6. News: Kuwait still recovering from Gulf War fires. Ryan. Chilcote. CNN. 3 January 2003. 7 May 2010.
  7. News: Country profile: Kuwait. BBC News. 16 December 2009. 7 May 2010.
  8. Oil & Gas Journal, January 2007
  9. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ku.html CIA – The World Factbook – Kuwait
  10. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html CIA – The World Factbook – Rank Order – GDP – per capita (PPP)
  11. Web site: John. Pike. U.S. Designates Kuwait a Major Non-NATO Ally of U.S. Globalsecurity.org. 28 June 2010.
  12. "Alexander's Gulf outpost uncovered".
  13. Book: Farrokh, Kaveh. Shadows in the desert: Ancient Persia at war. Osprey Publishing, 2007. 1846031087, 9781846031083.
  14. Book: Plotter, Lawrence. The Arabian Gulf in history. Macmillan, 2009. 1403972451, 9781403972453.
  15. Book: Ganjoo, S.. Economic System in Islam. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 2004. 8126118083, 9788126118083.
  16. http://www.kuwait-info.com/sidepages/nat_history.asp Kuwait's History
  17. Web site: US Department of State. State.gov. 4 May 2010. 28 June 2010.
  18. Web site: Kuwait (06/07). State.gov. 4 May 2010. 28 June 2010.
  19. Book: Cleveland, William. A history of the modern Middle East. Westview Press, 2000. 0813334896, 9780813334899.
  20. http://www.stock-market-crash.net/souk.htm Kuwait’s Souk al-Manakh Stock Bubble
  21. Shireen T. Hunter, Iran and the World: Continuity in a Revolutionary Decade, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990), p.117
  22. Web site: Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait; 1990. Acig.org. 28 June 2010.
  23. Book: The colonial present: Afghanistan ... – Google Books. Books.google.com. 28 June 2010. 9781577180906. 2004.
  24. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6868805.ece Sunday Times Analysis
  25. http://cns.miis.edu/research/iraq/almajid.htm CNS – The Significance of the "Death" of Ali Hassan al-Majid
  26. Web site: The Use of Terror during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Jafi.org.il. 2005-05-15. 2010-10-24.
  27. Web site: Kuwait. Ehistory.osu.edu. 28 June 2010.
  28. http://earthshots.usgs.gov/Iraq/Iraqtext
  29. Web site: Kuwait Ted Case. American.edu. 28 June 2010.
  30. Web site: NASA – Top Story – 1991 KUWAIT OIL FIRES – March 21, 2003. NASA. 28 June 2010.
  31. News: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/gulf.war/legacy/environment/index.html. CNN. yes.
  32. Web site: Kuwait Oil Fires, Arabian Gulf War – further reading. Espionageinfo.com. 28 June 2010.
  33. Web site: Independent Newspapers Online. Fears of Iraqi oil fires fuel global panic – World – IOL | Breaking News | South Africa News | World News | Sport | Business | Entertainment. IOL.co.za. 2003-03-21. 2010-10-24.
  34. http://www.majlesalommah.net/enrun.asp?id=226 National Assembly – Kuwait
  35. Web site: meepas Kuwait country profile–Kuwait politics, Political snapshot. Meepas.com. 15 January 2006. 28 June 2010.
  36. Web site: Kuwaiti parliament dissolved. Upi.com. 19 March 2009. 28 June 2010.
  37. Web site: Elections set for May 16. Kuwait Times. 14 April 2009. 28 June 2010.
  38. Web site: Opinion Articles – Women's suffrage means deep change in Kuwaiti politics. The Daily Star. 27 July 2005. 28 June 2010.
  39. Web site: Gulf Daily News. Gulf Daily News. 19 May 2008. 28 June 2010.
  40. News: First Women Win Seats in Kuwait Parliament. The New York Times. Robert F.. Worth. 18 May 2009. 7 May 2010.
  41. Web site: Kuwait deports 17 Egyptian activists. The Majlis. 28 June 2010.
  42. Web site: Encyclopædia Britannica. Bubiyan (island, Kuwait) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Britannica.com. 28 June 2010.
  43. Web site: Structurae [en]: Bubiyan Bridge (1983)|language=German|work=En.structurae.de|date=19 October 2002|accessdate=28 June 2010}].