State of Kuwait is an independent Arabian country situated at the
northwestern head of the Arabian gulf, bordered on its south and
south-western sides by Saudi Arabia and on its north and north-western
sides by Iraq. It has a total land area of 17,818 sq kms, a coastline of
195 kms and land frontiers of approximately 700 kms. It lies between the
latitude 45.28o and 45.30o N and longitudes 30.46o
and 30.48oE, and experiences a continental climate typical of
other desert regions at these latitudes.
Kuwait's first oil strike was in 1938 and oil exports began in 1946. Whilst oil remains a major source of GDP, manufacturing industries, petrochemicals, foodstuffs, building materials, trade, real estate, communications and transport are all playing increasingly important roles in the national economy. Kuwait has also shared the benefits of its oil wealth with other countries and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has helped many worthwhile development projects.
Kuwait's solid infrastructure, developed as a result of prudent use of its oil revenues, includes over 5,000 kms of high grade roads; over 6,898 megawatts of electricity capacity, and desalination production of more than 234 million imperial gallons per day.
Kuwait became an
independent and sovereign state in June 19, 1961, with the cancellation by
Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Al Sabah, of the agreement signed between Kuwait
and Britain in January 23, 1899. The draft Constitution, approved on
November 11, 1961, describes Kuwait;s system of government as follows:
"Kuwait is a fully independent Arab State with a democratic style of
government, where sovereignty rests with the nation, which is the source
of power." As prescribed by the Constitution, the system of
government is based on the separation of powers. The legislative authority
is vested exclusively in the Amir and the National Assembly, while
executive power is vested exclusively in the Amir and his Cabinet and
Ministers. The Constitution itself comprises 183 articles in five separate
chapters. The government system is firmly based on democratic principles
and incorporates positive aspects of both presidential and parliamentary
systems prevalent in advanced democratic countries. The pillars of the
Constitution are the sovereignty of the State, public freedom and equality
before the law.
The total area of the State
of Kuwait is 17,818 sq kms (6969 square miles). Kuwait's desert plain
slopes gradually from the west, where it reaches 300m above sea-level, to
the Gulf's shores. A number of discontinuities occur on the form of low
depressions, sand dunes and escarpments. These include Al-Liyah, Kura Al-Maru,
Shagaat Al-Jleeb, and Afrie which forms a ridge at Jal al-Zor (145 meters
high), cut by the Umm al-Ramam wadi. The southern part of Kuwait is
generally flat, with the exception of the slight rise of ground around
Ahmadi whose low hill reaches just 137m above sea level.
Kuwait, or officially the
State of Kuwait, was referred to by the name Qurain (or Grane) in the
early 17th century. The names Qurain or Kuwait are diminutives of the
Arabic words Qarn and Kout. Qarn is a high hill and Kout is a fortress. In
the dialect of neighbouring countries, Kout means a house built in the
form of a fortress and adjacent to water. The plural of Kout is Akwat, as
used by the Arabian peninsula's historians when they referred to a number
of castles in towns with forts and walls. Some historians believe that
Barrak, Sheikh of the Bani Khalid tribe, built Kuwait in Grane and that
since then the city has been mostly referred to by the name Kuwait. This
agrees with the local oral tradition that Sheikh Barrak ibn Ghurair Al
Hamid, wh ruled the Bani Khalid tribe from 1669 to 1682, built Kuwait
before the beginning of the 18th century AD, i.e. 12th century AH.
Heritage and Culture
Kuwait pays special
attention to encouraging and refining the folk arts which reflect its
strong folkloric traditions. The Folklore Preservation Center collects,
records and classifies Kuwaiti folklore. Since 1982 folklore has been
included within the curricula of local schools and as a subject studied by
students of music, theater and fine arts. The national Council for Culture
Arts and Letters is responsible for cultural planning, promotion and
development and has helped to provide the cultural planning, promotion and
development and has helped to provide the appropriate atmosphere for
artistic and literary productions. The Council assumes the responsibility
for disseminating culture and fine arts, the preservation and study of the
national heritage, and the fostering of humanitarian bonds and ties
through cultural exchanges at Arab and international levels.
in addition to the Central Library at Mubarakiya which ranks as the
country's best research library with holdings of nearly 100,000 Arab and
foreign volumes. A musical library contains about 3000 tapes and 150
biographical files on outstanding Kuwaiti artists, together with detailed
annotations on Kuwaiti & Gulf songs and tunes.
Youth culture is encouraged through free annual art exhibitions and at special studios for free art established in residential areas. The Council sponsors festivals and scientific symposia dedicated for young peoples' culture, and participates in many exhibitions and competitions. Through organising Cultural Weeks in Kuwait and abroad the Council enhances cultural relations on an international level.
Bedouin art, the most characteristic expression of Kuwaiti folk arts, best illustrated by weaving of clothes, rugs and other products from sheep wool - an art known as Al-Sadu - is preserved and actively undertaken at Al-Sadu House, a cultural philanthropic institution which has attracted a group of bedouin women on a permanent basis to provide a constant supply of Sadu. Local residents and foreign visitors are always keen to own this bedouin textile in their homes.
There are numerous folklore troupes performing popular dances and these receive annual support from the government in order to promote heritage cultures. In addition Kuwait Television has formed the Kuwait Television Folklore Troupe which has acquired world renown in presenting Kuwaiti folklore abroad through its performances and popular dances at various world festivals.
The Ministry of Information plays an important role in the development of the formative art movement in Kuwait. It holds art exhibitions within Kuwait and abroad, and publishes artist's catalogues and drawings. The Kuwaiti Society for Formative Arts is a non-profit making society which holds an annual exhibition for its members and another for all artists resident in Kuwait.
The theater in Kuwait is also of importance as a cultural center. There are currently several theatrical companies in Kuwait, most prominent of which are the Gulf Theater, the Arab Theater, the Popular Theater and the Kuwaiti Theater. The Higher Institute for Theatrical Arts exists to provide special facilities for talented Kuwaiti actors, dancers and musicians.
Environment and Wildlife
Kuwait's climate has a
dramatic effect on its general environment and wildlife. The weather is
characterised by long, hot and dry summers, followed by short warm and
sometimes rainy winters. Dust storms are general associated with a rise in
humidity during summer. The highest temperature so far recorded is 51oC
, whilst the lowest is 6oC. Annual rainfall figures may
fluctuate widely, for example from 22mm in one year to 352mm the next.
Kuwait's economy is based
on long, medium and short term planning, freedom of initiatives and social
responsibility of the private sector as laid down by the country's
Constitution. Figures for 1996 indicate a GDP of KD 9,277.1 million. The
main sources of the GDP are oil, manufacturing industries, petrochemicals,
foodstuffs, building materials, trade, real estate and communications and
transport. Revenues from foreign investments play a vital role as a source
of national income and in boosting the state's revenues. Oil revenues
contributed KD 4,127.4 million to the GDP i.e. 44.5 percent, while the oil
sector as a whole (crude oil and related oil industries) contributed
approximately 52.2 percent to the GDP. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic
Development has offered many loans and considerable assistance to Arab
countries including some African, Asian and other developing nations. In
response to HH the Emir of Kuwait's speech at the UN General Assembly on
September 27, 1990, regarding reduction of the debt burden on developing
nations, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Development cancelled interest due on
its loans to 26 African, 12 Asian and nine Arab Countries.
Health care has been a
priority of the Kuwaiti government's agenda. By the end of 195, the number
of government hospitals rose to 16, well-equipped with the latest health
services and equipment, along with 71 health centers, 75 clinics
specialised in dentistry and diabetes, 86 maternity and child care
centers, and 55 preventive medicine centers. In addition to these
facilities a vibrant private medical sector exists. These health
establishments employ 15,404 physicians, pharmacists and nursing staff.
State-of-the-art government hospitals have over 4400 beds.
Kuwait at a Glance
Location: Kuwait lies at the north western part of the Arabian Gulf which also borders it from the east. Kuwait is also bordered by Saudi Arabia from the south west, and Iraq from the north. As a result of its location, it is considered an access point to the north-eastern of Arabia.
Area: 17,818 sq.km.
Climate: Kuwait's climate is characterised by a long hot dry summer, and a short warm winter with intermittent rain.
Population: 2,152,775 according to estimates of June 30, 1997, of whom 745,189 are Kuwaitis.
National Day: February 25.
Liberation Day: February 26.
Capital: Kuwait City.
Time: 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Currency: Kuwaiti Dinar.
Flag: Three horizontal bands, green at the top, white in the centre and red at the base, with a black section linking the three colours on the proximal side.
EGYPT - SYRIA - JORDAN
|Back to MiddleEast.com|