State of Kuwait
Arabic: dawlatu l-kuwayt
Independent monarchy in Asia with 2.69 million inhabitants (2009 estimate) and an area of 17,820 km². The capital is Kuwait, also the centre of the wider urban area where practically all Kuwaitis live.
Administratively is Kuwait divided into 5 governorates, called muhafaza.
Day of independence is June 19, 1961, when governance was peacefully transferred from the British to the long-time ruler of Kuwait. The National holiday is, however, not this day, but February 25, 1950.
Head of state is Emir Sabah 3. Prime minister is Nasser Muhammad Al-Ahmad As-Sabah. There are 14 ministries, and 7 ministers come from the Sabah clan.
Kuwait’s National Assembly is called Majlis al-Umma, and has 50 seats, but exercises limited power over national politics.
Average day temperature is 33°C, but can drop as low as -3° in January. 52°C is maximum temperature. Annual rainfall is between 25 mm and 175 mm, most of this falling during the months between October and March. Winter also comes with fierce dust storms, called kaus.Life
Kuwait is on the Human Development Index ranked the best Arab country, no. 2 in the MENA, and 31 in the world. On a scale with 1.000 as maximum, Kuwait gains 0.916 points.
The currency of Kuwait is the dinar (KWD). It is a stable currency, and largely easily convertible into foreign currencies.
Kuwait has a strong economy from years of large oil revenues. The GDP per capita is at US$57,500 (2008 estimate), which is 450% above world average, and second highest among the MENA countries. Unemployment is very low at 2.2% and according to all indicators there are no inhabitants living below the poverty line.
Information about the health situation in Kuwait is confusing. No other MENA country has more obesity, Kuwait spends comparatively little on health care, yet life expectancy is among the highest.
Although the United Nations rank Kuwait’s education system quite unfavourably, Kuwait performs well on many factors, both with high literacy and good universities.
Native Kuwaitis have Arab and Bedouin ancestry. Kuwait is the Arab country that denies a certain segment of its native population citizenship.
Arabic is the daily language of Kuwait, English is also widely practiced. Some immigrant groups form small communities in which their original tongue is used.
Islam dominates in Kuwait, a majority of the Muslims are Sunni, but every third inhabitant is Shi’i. Immigrants usually belong to Islam or Christianity.
Good politics have secured that nationals today represent the majority of the population. Fertility rates have gone down in recent years, but population growth remains very high.
Kuwait never was in the centre of world history until the 20th century, when the country emerged briefly as the richest country in the world, later it was in the headlines with the Gulf War.
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By Tore Kjeilen