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Kuwait at a Glance

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Capital:

Kuwait

Land:

17,820 sq km

Currency (code):

Kuwaiti dinar (KD)

Exchange rates:

Kuwaiti dinars per US dollar - 0.2844 (2007), 0.29 (2006), 0.292 (2005), 0.2947 (2004), 0.298 (2003)

Population:

2,596,799

note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 26.6% (male 351,057/female 338,634)
  • 15-64 years: 70.6% (male 1,172,460/female 659,927)
  • 65 years and over: 2.9% (male 46,770/female 27,951) (2008 est.)

Population growth rate:

3.591%

Religions:

Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi'a 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%

Climate:

The nation experiences four distinct seasons. Summer (May–October) is dry and extremely hot, with temperatures regularly in excess of 120°F (49°C). Autumn (October–December) is more temperate but humid. The climate cools markedly during winter (December–February), when the average daytime temperature is 59°F (15°C). In spring (February–May), most of the annual precipitation falls (an average of 4.5 inches, or 115 millimeters), and the desert vegetation blooms. Spring also brings severe sandstorms, notorious for causing respiratory problems.

Language:

Arabic is Kuwait’s official language. Two-thirds of the population (consisting of Kuwaiti citizens and Arab expatriates) speaks Arabic as a first language. English, which is classified as the nation’s official second language, is used widely in business and academia and for communication between people of different nationalities. Both Arabic and English are taught in schools. Languages spoken by expatriates include Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, Malayalam, Tagalog, Hindi, and Sinhalese.

General Attitudes:

In just a generation, oil has transformed Kuwait into one of the region’s richest countries, and Kuwaitis prize the benefits of this wealth: comfortable lifestyles, large homes, expensive cars, and other possessions. Elderly Kuwaitis who experienced poverty before the oil boom of the 1940s want to provide their children and grandchildren with the best of everything. At the same time, Kuwaitis preserve a conservative society in which Islam holds the strongest influence. They value sincerity, honesty, family ties, and commitment to tradition. Western media are censored of items deemed contrary to Islamic values. Tension exists between Kuwaitis who see political and social reform as vital to the nation’s progress and those who believe that only with a continuity of traditional customs and institutions can Kuwait avoid the social problems seen in Western countries. This tension was highlighted in 1999, when Kuwait’s National Assembly narrowly overturned a decree from the emir that would have allowed women to vote and hold political office. These rights were ultimately granted in legislation passed by the National Assembly in 2005.

Greetings:

Kuwaitis greet friends of the same sex with kisses on alternate cheeks. For close friends, this gesture is repeated. It is customary to stand for greetings. A handshake is used in formal circumstances and when meeting someone for the first time. Conservative Kuwaitis do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex outside of their own families.

The most common greeting among Kuwaitis is As-Salaamu Alaykum (The peace of Allah be upon you), to which the usual reply is Wa alaykum As-salaam (And peace be upon you). This is followed by questions such as “How are you?” (Eshloanak to a man, Eshloanich to a woman). A typical response is Zain, al-Humdulillah (Good, thanks be to Allah). General inquiries are then made regarding the welfare of the person’s family.

Names consist of a person’s given name, followed by the father’s name, grandfather’s name, and family name. For example, Abdullah al-Ahmad al-Salem al-Jarallah belongs to the Jarallah family and is the son of Ahmad and the grandson of Salem. His friends address him as Abdullah. Except for official documents and the most formal circumstances, the grandfather’s name is dropped, so that Abdullah Ahmad al-Jarallah would still be considered the full name. Women’s names also include the names of their fathers and grandfathers. A woman does not change her name upon marriage.

Labor force:

1.167 million

note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

  • Not Available

Unemployment rate:

2.2% (2004 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.9% (2007 est.)

Natural resources:

petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Exports:

$59.57 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Exports – commodities:

oil and refined products, fertilizers

Exports - partners:

Japan 20.4%, South Korea 16.2%, Taiwan 10.8%, Singapore 9.7%, US 9%, Netherlands 5.3%, China 4.1% (2006)

Imports:

$17.74 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Imports – commodities:

food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing

Imports - partners:

US 14.1%, Germany 7.9%, Japan 7.8%, Saudi Arabia 6.8%, China 5.7%, UK 5.4%, Italy 4.6% (2006)

 

References:

Kuwait.” CultureGrams World Edition. 2008. ProQuest. <http://online.culturegrams.com>.

Kuwait.” THE WORLD FACTBOOK. 2008. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY. <https://www.cia.gov>.

Kuwait.” Factsheet. May, 2007. Economist Intelligence Unit. <http://www.economist.com>

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