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Saudi Arabia



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Introduction

Background: In 1902 Abdul al-Aziz Ibn SAUD captured Riyadh and set out on a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian peninsula. In the 1930s, the discovery of oil transformed the country. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all major governmental concerns.

Geography

Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 45 00 E

Map references: Middle East

Area
  total: 1,960,582 sq km
  land: 1,960,582 sq km
  water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Land boundaries
  total: 4,415 km
  border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 728 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km

Coastline: 2,640 km

Maritime claims
  contiguous zone: 18 nm
  continental shelf: not specified
  territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: harsh, dry desert with great extremes of temperature

Terrain: mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Elevation extremes
  lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
  highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Land use
  arable land: 2%
  permanent crops: 0%
  permanent pastures: 56%
  forests and woodland: 1%
  other: 41% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 4,350 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent sand and dust storms

Environment - current issues: desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills

Environment - international agreements
  party to: Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
  signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal

People

Population: 22,023,506 (Note: includes 5,360,526 non-nationals (July 2000 est.))

Age structure
  0-14 years: 43% (male 4,781,695; female 4,607,038)
  15-64 years: 55% (male 7,093,567; female 4,969,848)
  65 years and over: 2% (male 309,638; female 261,720) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.28% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 37.47 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 1.43 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 1.18 male(s)/female
  total population: 1.24 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 52.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 67.77 years
  male: 66.11 years
  female: 69.51 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.3 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  noun: Saudi(s)
  adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian

Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religions: Muslim 100%

Languages: Arabic

Literacy
  definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  total population: 62.8%
  male: 71.5%
  female: 50.2% (1995 est.)

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
  local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
  local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

Data code: SA

Government type: monarchy

Capital: Riyadh

Administrative divisions: 13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk

Independence: 23 September 1932 (unification)

National holiday: Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)

Constitution: governed according to Shari'a (Islamic law); the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was introduced in 1993

Legal system: based on Islamic law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: none

Executive branch
  chief of state: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
  head of government: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
  cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch and includes many royal family members
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary

Legislative branch: a consultative council (90 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms)

Judicial branch: Supreme Council of Justice

Political parties and leaders: none allowed

International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, BIS, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador BANDAR bin Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
  chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
  telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
  consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US
  chief of mission: Ambassador Wyche FOWLER, Jr.
  embassy: Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
  mailing address: American Embassy Riyadh, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
  telephone: [966] (1) 488-3800
  FAX: [966] (1) 488-7360
  consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)

Flag description: green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); green is the traditional color of Islam

Economy

Economy - overview: This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% 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. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. 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.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $191 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.6% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,000 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 6%
  industry: 47%
  services: 47% (1998 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -1.2% (1999)

Labor force: 7 million (Note: 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.))

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 12%, industry 25%, services 63% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget
  revenues: $41.9 billion
  expenditures: $49.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, cement, construction, fertilizer, plastics

Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

Electricity - production: 110.132 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 102.423 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

Exports: $48 billion (f.o.b., 1999)

Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%

Exports - partners: Japan 17%, US 15%, South Korea 11%, Singapore 8%, India 4%, France 4% (1998)

Imports: $28 billion (f.o.b., 1999)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

Imports - partners: US 21%, UK 9%, Japan 9%, Germany 6%, France 5%, Italy 4% (1998)

Debt - external: $28 billion (1998 est.)

Economic aid - donor: pledged $100 million in 1993 to fund reconstruction of Lebanon; since 1993, Saudi Arabia has committed $208 million for assistance to the Palestinians

Currency: 1 Saudi riyal (SR) = 100 halalah

Exchange rates: Saudi riyals (SR) per US$1 - 3.7450 (fixed rate since June 1986)

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 3.1 million (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 1 million (Note: in 1998, the government contracted for the installation of 575,000 additional Group Speciale Mobile (GSM) cellular telephone lines over 15 months to raise the total number of subscribers to more than one million; Riyadh planned to further expand the GSM system in 1999 by adding an additional one million lines (1998))

Telephone system: modern system
  domestic: extensive microwave radio relay and coaxial and fiber-optic cable systems
  international: microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; submarine cable to Djibouti, Egypt and Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios: 6.25 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 117 (1997)

Televisions: 5.1 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 6 (1999)

Transportation

Railways
  total: 1,390 km
  standard gauge: 1,390 km 1.435-m gauge (448 km double track) (1992)

Highways
  total: 146,524 km
  paved: 44,104 km
  unpaved: 102,420 km (1997 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 6,400 km; petroleum products 150 km; natural gas 2,200 km (includes natural gas liquids 1,600 km)

Ports and harbors: Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Duba, Jiddah, Jizan, Rabigh, Ra's al Khafji, Mishab, Ras Tanura, Yanbu' al Bahr, Madinat Yanbu' al Sinaiyah

Merchant marine
  total: 70 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,071,003 GRT/1,388,802 DWT
  ships by type: cargo 12, chemical tanker 7, container 5, liquified gas 1, livestock carrier 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 4, roll-on/roll-off 12, short-sea passenger 8 (1999 est.)

Airports: 205 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 72
  over 3,047 m: 31
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 13
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
  914 to 1,523 m: 3
  under 914 m: 2 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 133
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 77
  914 to 1,523 m: 39
  under 914 m: 13 (1999 est.)

Heliports: 4 (1999 est.)

Military

Military branches: Land Force (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Ministry of Interior Forces (paramilitary)

Military manpower - military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 5,786,089 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 3,225,809 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually
  males: 221,026 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $18.1 billion (FY97)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 12% (FY97)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: large section of boundary with Yemen not defined; location and status of boundary with UAE is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974 agreement; Kuwaiti ownership of Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands is disputed by Saudi Arabia; June 1999 agreement has furthered the goal of definitively establishing the border with Qatar

Illicit drugs: death penalty for traffickers; increasing consumption of heroin and cocaine

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