Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country on the Arabic Peninsula. It borders Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

المملكة العربيّة السّعوديّة
Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
coat of arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: None
Official language Arabic
Capital Riyadh
King Fahd
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 14th
1,960,582 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 45th
24,293,844
12/km²
Unification September 23, 1932
Currency Riyal
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem Aash Al Maleek
Internet TLD .SA
Calling Code966

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Miscellaneous topics
9 External Links

History

Main article: History of Saudi Arabia

The Saudi state began in central Arabia in about 1750. A local ruler, Muhammad bin Saud, joined forces with an Islamic reformer, Muhammad Abd Al-Wahhab, to create a new political entity. Over the next 150 years, the fortunes of the Saud family rose and fell several times as Saudi rulers contended with Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, and other Arabian families for control on the peninsula. The modern Saudi state was founded by the late King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (known internationally as Abdul al-Aziz Ibn Saud).

In 1902 Abdul al-Aziz Ibn Saud captured Riyadh, the Al-Saud dynasty's ancestral capital, from the rival Al-Rashid family. Continuing his conquests, Abdul Aziz subdued Al-Hasa, the rest of Nejd, and the Hijaz between 1913 and 1926. On January 8, 1926 Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud became the King of Hejaz and renamed it Saudi Arabia. The Treaty of Jedda was signed on May 20, 1927 making Saudi Arabia independent of the United Kingdom. In 1932, these regions were unified as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The discovery of oil on March 3, 1938 transformed the country.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Saudi Arabia

The central institution of Saudi Arabian Government is the monarchy. The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud, and that the Holy Qur'an is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of Islamic law (Shari'a). There are no recognized political parties or national elections. The king's powers are theoretically limited within the bounds of Shari'a and other Saudi traditions. He also must retain a consensus of the Saudi royal family, religious leaders (ulema), and other important elements in Saudi society. The state's ideology is the Wahhabism. This flavour of Islam is tried to spread further by funding build of mosques and Qur'an schools around the world. The leading members of the royal family choose the king from among themselves with the subsequent approval of the ulema. The House of Saud rules the nation, and it is named for them.

Provinces

Main article: Provinces of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah).

  • Al Bahah
  • Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah
  • Al Jawf
  • Al Madinah
  • Al Qasim
  • Ar Riyad ( The Capital )
  • shaqra ( or shagra )
  • Al qarain ( goslah town and alwaqef town )
  • Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province)
  • 'Asir
  • Ha'il
  • Jizan
  • Makkah
  • Najran
  • Tabuk

Geography

Main article: Geography of Saudi Arabia

The kingdom occupies 80 percent of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the country's boundaries with the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen are undefined, so the exact size of the country remains unknown. The Saudi government estimate is 2,217,949 square kilometers. Other reputable estimates vary between 2,149,690 square kilometers and 2,240,000 square kilometers. Less than 1 percent of the total area is suitable for cultivation, and in the early 1990s population distribution varied greatly among the towns of the eastern and western coastal areas, the densely populated interior oases, and the vast, almost empty deserts.

The climate is harsh, dry desert with great extremes of temperature and the terrain is mostly uninhabited, sandy desert.

Economy

Main article: Economy of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia is first in the world to in proven reserves of petroleum (24% of the proved total), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 40% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 35% of GDP comes from the private sector. Saudi Arabia was a key player in the successful efforts of OPEC and other oil producing countries to raise the price of oil in 1999 to its highest level since the Gulf War by reducing production. Although oil prices are expected to remain relatively high in 2000, Riyadh expects to have a $7.5 billion budget deficit in part because of increased spending for education and other social problems. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's 2001 population is estimated to be about 22.7 million, including about 6.4 million resident foreigners. Until the 1960s, most of the population was nomadic or seminomadic; due to rapid economic and urban growth, more than 95% of the population now is settled. Some cities and oases have densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer.

Most Saudis are ethnically Arab. Some are of mixed ethnic origin and are descended from Turks, Iranians, Indonesians, Indians, Africans, and others, most of whom immigrated as pilgrims and reside in the Hijaz region along the Red Sea coast. Many Arabs from nearby countries are employed in the kingdom. There also are significant numbers of Asian expatriates mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines. There are less than 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia forbids the public practice of any religion besides Islam. Those who follow other belief systems--often foreign-born "guest workers"--must do so in private.

Holidays
DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks

Miscellaneous topics

External Links


Countries of the world  |  Asia


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