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Kuwait has been ruled by the AL-SABAH dynasty since the 18th century. The threat of Ottoman invasion in 1899 prompted Amir Mubarak AL-SABAH to seek protection from Britain, ceding foreign and defense responsibility to Britain until 1961, when the country attained its independence. 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 returned to power in 1991 and established one of the most independent legislatures in the Arab World. The country witnessed the historic election in 2009 of four women to its National Assembly. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, staged small protests in February and March 2011 demanding citizenship, jobs, and other benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals. Youth activist groups - supported by opposition legislators - rallied repeatedly in 2011 for the prime minister's dismissal amid allegations of widespread government corruption, ultimately prompting the prime minister to resign in late 2011. Demonstrations, following a short lull, renewed in late 2012 in response to an Amiri decree amending the electoral law to reduce the number of votes per person from four to one. The opposition, led by a coalition of Sunni Islamists, tribalists, some liberals, and myriad youth groups, largely boycotted legislative elections in 2012 and 2013, which ushered in a legislature more amenable to the government's agenda. Since coming to power in 2006, the Amir has dissolved the National Assembly on five occasions (the Constitutional Court annulled the Assembly in June 2012 and again in June 2013) and shuffled the cabinet over a dozen times, usually citing political stagnation and gridlock between the legislature and the government.



Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

29.30° N, 45.45° E

Area 158/257

total: 17,818 sq km

land: 17,818 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 475 km

border countries (2): Iraq 254 km, Saudi Arabia 221 km


499 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm


dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters


flat to slightly undulating desert plain


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

highest point: unnamed elevation 306 m

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 8.5%

arable land 0.6%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 7.6%

forest: 0.4%

other: 91.1% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

105 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

0.02 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.91 cu km/yr (47%/2%/51%)

per capita: 441.2 cu m/yr (2005)

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 freshwater 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 and Society


noun: Kuwaiti(s)

adjective: Kuwaiti

Ethnic groups

Kuwaiti 31.3%, other Arab 27.9%, Asian 37.8%, African 1.9%, other 1.1% (includes European, North American, South American, and Australian) (2013 est.)


Arabic (official), English widely spoken


Muslim (official) 76.7%, Christian 17.3%, other and unspecified 5.9%

note: represents the total population; about 69% of the population consists of immigrants (2013 est.)

Population 141/238


note: Kuwait's Public Authority for Civil Information estimates the country's total population to be 3,996,899 for 2014, with immigrants accounting for almost 69% (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.32% (male 367,176/female 338,883)

15-24 years: 15.21% (male 233,306/female 190,903)

25-54 years: 52.32% (male 924,103/female 534,769)

55-64 years: 4.82% (male 76,707/female 57,663)

65 years and over: 2.33% (male 30,681/female 34,343) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 32.1%

youth dependency ratio: 29.5%

elderly dependency ratio: 2.6%

potential support ratio: 38.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 29 years

male: 30.2 years

female: 27 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 73/233


note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2015 est.)

Birth rate 84/224

19.91 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 223/225

2.18 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 158/222

-1.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 98.3% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 3.63% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

KUWAIT (capital) 2.779 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.22 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.73 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.33 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 1.41 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 145/184

4 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 158/224

total: 7.31 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 7.09 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 64/224

total population: 77.82 years

male: 76.51 years

female: 79.19 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 80/224

2.48 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Health expenditures 187/191

2.9% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.79 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


urban: 99% of population

rural: 99% of population

total: 99% of population


urban: 1% of population

rural: 1% of population

total: 1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban:: 0% of population

rural:: 0% of population

total:: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 10/191

38.3% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 120/138

2.2% (2012)

Education expenditures 116/173

3.8% of GDP (2006)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 94/134

total: 14.55%

male: N/A

female: N/A (2011 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: State of Kuwait

conventional short form: Kuwait

local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt

local short form: Al Kuwayt

etymology: the name derives from the capital city, which is from Arabic "al-Kuwayt" a diminutive of "kut" meaning "fortress encircled by water"

Government type

constitutional emirate


name: Kuwait City

geographic coordinates: 29.22° N, 47.58° E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC,during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir


19 June 1961 (from the UK)

National holiday

National Day, 25 February (1950)


approved and promulgated 11 November 1962 (2015)

Legal system

mixed legal system consisting of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic religious law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kuwait

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: not specified


21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military or police by law cannot vote; 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 (born 25 June 1937)

head of government: Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBARAK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 30 November 2011); First Deputy Prime Minister SABAH Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah; Deputy Prime Ministers al-KHALD al-Jarrah al-Sabah, MUHAMMAD AL-KHALID al-Hamad al-Sabah, Abdulmohsen MUDEJ

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by the amir

elections/appointments: amir chosen from within the ruling family, confirmed by the National Assembly; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the amir

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (65 seats; 50 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 15 ex-officio members - cabinet ministers - appointed by the prime minister; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held 27 July 2013 (next to be held in July 2017)

election results: seats won - pro-government 30, liberal 9, Shiite 8, Sunni 3

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Constitutional Court (consists of 5 judges); Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (organized into several circuits, each with 5 judges)

judge selection and term of office: all Kuwaiti judges appointed by the Amir upon recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, a consultative body comprised of Kuwaiti judges and Ministry of Justice officials

subordinate courts: High Court of Appeal; Court of First Instance; Summary Court

Political parties and leaders

none; while the formation of political parties is not permitted, they are not forbidden by law

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups

International organization participation


Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side; colors and design are based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I; green represents fertile fields, white stands for purity, red denotes blood on Kuwaiti swords, black signifies the defeat of the enemy

National symbol(s)

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, red, black

National anthem

name: "Al-Nasheed Al-Watani" (National Anthem)

lyrics/music: Ahmad MUSHARI al-Adwani/Ibrahim Nasir al-SOULA

note: adopted 1978; the anthem is only used on formal occasions


Economy - overview

Kuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves. Kuwaiti officials plan to increase oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. Petroleum accounts for over half of GDP, 94% of export revenues, and 90% of government income.

In 2015, Kuwait, for the first time in fifteen years, realized a budget deficit after decades of high oil prices. Kuwaiti authorities have tried to reduce the deficit by decreasing spending on subsidies for the local population, but with limited success. Despite Kuwait’s dependence on oil, the government has cushioned itself against the impact of lower oil prices, by saving annually at least 10% of government revenue in the Fund for Future Generations.

Kuwait has failed to diversify its economy or bolster the private sector, because of a poor business climate, a large public sector that crowds out private employment of Kuwaiti nationals, and an acrimonious relationship between the National Assembly and the executive branch that has stymied most economic reforms. The Kuwaiti government has made little progress on its long-term economic development plan first passed in 2010. While the government planned to spend up $104 billion over four years to diversify the economy, attract more investment, and boost private sector participation in the economy, many of the projects did not materialize because of an uncertain political situation.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 53/230

$288.8 billion (2015 est.)

$285.4 billion (2014 est.)

$285 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$123.2 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 168/225

1.2% (2015 est.)

0.1% (2014 est.)

0.8% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 10/230

$72,200 (2015 est.)

$71,400 (2014 est.)

$71,300 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 19/179

30.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

46.3% of GDP (2014 est.)

56.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 36.1%

government consumption: 25.4%

investment in fixed capital: 20.2%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 55.5%

imports of goods and services: -37.2%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4%

industry: 59.4%

services: 40.2% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products



petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials

Industrial production growth rate 187/202

-4% (2015 est.)

Labor force 116/233

2.473 million

note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%

industry: NA%

services: NA%

Unemployment rate 22/207

3% (2015 est.)

3% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $61.08 billion

expenditures: $66.5 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 16/219

49.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 158/220

-4.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 166/176

9.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

6.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 140/226

3.4% (2015 est.)

2.9% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 122/156

1.25% (31 December 2010)

3% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 157/184

4.3% (31 December 2015 est.)

4.3% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 61/192

$31.83 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$32.8 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 52/193

$114.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$116 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 53/191

$96.93 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$96.65 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 44/121

$99.77 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$100.9 billion (31 December 2011)

$119.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 19/197

$11.43 billion (2015 est.)

$53.53 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 47/224

$57.13 billion (2015 est.)

$103.4 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

oil and refined products, fertilizers

Exports - partners

South Korea 16.7%, India 14.9%, Japan 12.3%, US 11.3%, China 9.9% (2014)

Imports 67/223

$25.67 billion (2015 est.)

$27.38 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing

Imports - partners

US 12.7%, China 11.9%, Saudi Arabia 7.1%, South Korea 6.9%, Japan 6.6%, Germany 4.8%, India 4.2% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 49/170

$31.43 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$32.23 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 72/206

$35.22 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$36.04 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 101/120

$4.031 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$3.882 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 46/105

$39.46 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$36.85 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar -

0.3 (2015 est.)

0.28 (2014 est.)

0.28 (2013 est.)

0.28 (2012 est.)

0.28 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 47/220

58.9 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 47/219

50 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 159/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 169/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 48/214

14.7 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 16/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 122/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 181/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 189/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 9/214

2.619 million bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 7/214

1.824 million bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 210/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 6/215

104 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 25/214

772,300 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 35/212

467,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 12/214

533,100 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 210/213

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 35/216

16.31 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 39/215

16.88 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 130/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 64/214

571 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 20/212

1.798 trillion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 40/212

105.7 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 97/219

total subscriptions: 490,000

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 100/217

total: 7.6 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 277 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: the quality of service is excellent

domestic: new telephone exchanges provide a large capacity for new subscribers; trunk traffic is carried by microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and open-wire and fiber-optic cable; a mobile-cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is well supplied with pay telephones

international: country code - 965; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations - 6 (3 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean, and 2 Arabsat) (2011)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV broadcaster operates 4 networks and a satellite channel; several private TV broadcasters have emerged since 2003; satellite TV available with pan-Arab TV stations especially popular; state-owned Radio Kuwait broadcasts on a number of channels in Arabic and English; first private radio station emerged in 2005; transmissions of at least 2 international radio broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 6, FM 11, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

13 (plus several satellite channels) (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 156/232

2,771 (2012)

Internet users 93/217

total: 2.4 million

percent of population: 86.9% (2014 est.)


Airports 168/236

7 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

under 914 m: 2 (2013)


4 (2013)


gas 261 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2013)

Roadways 149/223

total: 6,608 km (2010)

Merchant marine 82/156

total: 34

by type: bulk carrier 2, carrier 3, container 6, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 19

registered in other countries: 45 (Bahamas 1, Bahrain 5, Comoros 1, Libya 1, Malta 3, Marshall Islands 2, Panama 12, Qatar 6, Saudi Arabia 4, UAE 10) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi

Military and Security

Military branches

Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya; includes Kuwaiti Air Defense Force, KADF), Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

17-21 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription suspended (2012)

Military expenditures 132/132

0% of GDP (2012)

3.35% of GDP (2011)

0% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 93,000 (2014); note - Kuwait's 1959 Nationality Law defined citizens as persons who settled in the country before 1920 and who had maintained normal residence since then; one-third of the population, descendants of Bedouin tribes, missed the window of opportunity to register for nationality rights after Kuwait became independent in 1961 and were classified as bidun (meaning without); since the 1980s Kuwait's bidun have progressively lost their rights, including opportunities for employment and education, amid official claims that they are nationals of other countries who have destroyed their identification documents in hopes of gaining Kuwaiti citizenship; Kuwaiti authorities have delayed processing citizenship applications and labeled biduns as "illegal residents," denying them access to civil documentation, such as birth and marriage certificates