|General background: 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 completely
liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait has spent more
than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged
Area comparative: Slightly
smaller than New Jersey
desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters
Terrain: Flat to slightly undulating desert
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%,
South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Religions: Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%),
Christian, Hindu, Parsi, and other 15%
Language: Arabic (official), English widely
Government type: Nominal constitutional monarchy
Legal system: Civil law system with Islamic
law significant in personal matters; has not accepted
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Kuwait is a small, rich,
relatively open economy with proved crude oil reserves
of 94 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum
accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues,
and 75% of government income. Kuwait's climate limits
agricultural development. Consequently, with the exception
of fish, it depends almost wholly on food imports.
About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported.
Higher oil prices put the FY99/00 budget into a $2
billion surplus. The FY00/01 budget covers only nine
months because of a change in the fiscal year. The
budget for FY01/02 envisioned higher expenditures
for salaries, construction, and other general categories.
Kuwait continues its discussions with foreign oil
companies to develop fields in the northern part of
Communication/Telephone system: The quality of
service is excellent.
Places of interest:
Travel tips: Kuwait is generally safe and secure,
but nevertheless visitors are advised to avoid demonstrations
and political gatherings wherever possible.