|General background: In 1970, QABOOS bin Said
Al Said ousted his father and has ruled as sultan ever
since. His extensive modernization program has opened
the country to the outside world and has preserved a
long-standing political and military relationship with
the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy
has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle
Area comparative: Slightly
smaller than Kansas.
Climate: Dry desert;
hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest
summer monsoon (May to September) in far south.
Terrain: Central desert plain, rugged mountains
in north and south.
Ethnic groups: Arab, Baluchi, South Asian
(Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African
Religions: Ibadhi Muslim 75%, Sunni Muslim,
Shi'a Muslim, Hindu
Language: Arabic (official), English, Baluchi,
Urdu, Indian dialects
Government type: Monarchy
Legal system: Based on English common law
and Islamic law; ultimate appeal to the monarch; has
not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Oman's economic performance
improved significantly in 2000 due largely to the
upturn in oil prices. The government is moving ahead
with privatisation of its utilities, the development
of a body of commercial law to facilitate foreign
investment, and increased budgetary outlays. Oman
continues to liberalize its markets and joined the
World Trade Organization (WTrO) in November 2000.
GDP growth improved in 2001 despite the global slowdown.
Communication/Telephone system: Modern system
consisting of open wire, microwave, and radiotelephone
communication stations; limited coaxial cable.
Places of interest: Oman is slowly emerging
from its shell, revealing a land of friendly people,
dramatic landscapes and lots of forts.