Kuwait has been ruled by the AL-SABAH dynasty since the 18th century. The threat of Ottoman invasion in 1899 prompted Amir Mubarak AL-SABAH to seek protection from Britain, ceding foreign and defense responsibility to Britain until 1961, when the country attained its independence. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family returned to power in 1991 and established one of the most independent legislatures in the Arab World. The country witnessed the historic election in 2009 of four women to its National Assembly. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, staged small protests in early 2011 demanding citizenship, jobs, and other benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals. Youth activist groups' repeated rallies in 2011 for the dismissal of a prime minister seen as being corrupt, ultimately led to his resignation in late 2011. Demonstrations renewed in late 2012 in response to an Amiri decree amending the electoral law. The opposition, led by a coalition of Sunni Islamists, tribalists, some liberals, and myriad youth groups, largely boycotted legislative elections in 2012 and 2013, which ushered in a legislature more amenable to the government's agenda. However, the opposition, expressing strong opposition to the government’s fiscal reforms, participated in the November 2016 National Assembly and won almost half of the positions. Since coming to power in 2006, the Amir has dissolved the National Assembly on seven occasions (the Constitutional Court annulled the Assembly in June 2012 and again in June 2013) and shuffled the cabinet over a dozen times, usually citing political stagnation and gridlock between the legislature and the government.



Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

29 30 N, 45 45 E

Map references

Middle East


total: 17,818 sq km
land: 17,818 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 475 km
border countries (2): Iraq 254 km, Saudi Arabia 221 km


499 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm


dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters


flat to slightly undulating desert plain


mean elevation: 108 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation 306 m

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 8.5%
arable land 0.6%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 7.6%
forest: 0.4%
other: 91.1% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

105 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year but are most common between March and August

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources; some of world's largest and most sophisticated desalination facilities provide much of the water; air and water pollution; desertification

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping

Geography - note

strategic location at head of Persian Gulf

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Kuwaiti 31.3%, other Arab 27.9%, Asian 37.8%, African 1.9%, other 1.1% (includes European, North American, South American, and Australian) (2013 est.)

Birth rate

19.6 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)


2,832,776 (July 2016 est.)
note: Kuwait's Public Authority for Civil Information estimates the country's total population to be 4,183,658 for 2015, with immigrants accounting more than 69%


noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti


Arabic (official), English widely spoken


Muslim (official) 76.7%, Christian 17.3%, other and unspecified 5.9%
note: represents the total population; about 69% of the population consists of immigrants (2013 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.18% (male 371,021/female 342,362)
15-24 years: 15.16% (male 236,012/female 193,303)
25-54 years: 52.28% (male 936,604/female 544,378)
55-64 years: 4.95% (male 79,551/female 60,602)
65 years and over: 2.43% (male 32,096/female 36,847) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 32.1%
youth dependency ratio: 29.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 2.6%
potential support ratio: 38.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 29.2 years
male: 30.3 years
female: 27.2 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.53% (2016 est.)

Death rate

2.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

densest settlement is along the Persian Gulf, particularly in Kuwait City and on Bubiyan Island; significant population threads extend south and west along highways that radiate from the capital, particularly in the southern half of the country


urban population: 98.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.63% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

KUWAIT (capital) 2.779 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.22 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.72 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.31 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.41 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

4 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.1 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78 years
male: 76.6 years
female: 79.4 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.44 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

3% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

1.79 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source

urban: 99% of population
rural: 99% of population
total: 99% of population
urban: 1% of population
rural: 1% of population
total: 1% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

38.3% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

3% (2014)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.5%
female: 95.8% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 14 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 14.6%
male: N/A
female: N/A (2011 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: State of Kuwait
conventional short form: Kuwait
local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
local short form: Al Kuwayt
etymology: the name derives from the capital city, which is from Arabic "al-Kuwayt" a diminutive of "kut" meaning "fortress encircled by water"

Government type

constitutional monarchy


name: Kuwait City
geographic coordinates: 29 22 N, 47 58 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC,during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir


19 June 1961 (from the UK)

National holiday

National Day, 25 February (1950)


approved and promulgated 11 November 1962 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system consisting of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic religious law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kuwait
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: not specified


21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military or police by law cannot vote; all voters must have been citizens for 20 years

Executive branch

chief of state: Amir SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 29 January 2006); Crown Prince NAWAF al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (born 25 June 1937)
head of government: Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBARAK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 30 November 2011); First Deputy Prime Minister SABAH Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah; Deputy Prime Ministers al-KHALD al-Jarrah al-Sabah, MUHAMMAD AL-KHALID al-Hamad al-Sabah, Abdulmohsen MUDEJ
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by the amir
elections/appointments: amir chosen from within the ruling family, confirmed by the National Assembly; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the amir

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Constitutional Court (consists of 5 judges); Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (organized into several circuits, each with 5 judges)
judge selection and term of office: all Kuwaiti judges appointed by the Amir upon recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, a consultative body comprised of Kuwaiti judges and Ministry of Justice officials
subordinate courts: High Court of Appeal; Court of First Instance; Summary Court

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (65 seats; 50 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 15 ex-officio members - cabinet ministers - appointed by the prime minister; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 26 November 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
election results: preliminary results - opposition groups including those linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists won 24 seats, 1 woman, other 25

Political parties and leaders

none; while the formation of political parties is not permitted, they are not forbidden by law

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador SALIM al-Abdallah al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 10 October 2001)
chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702
FAX: [1] (202) 966-8468
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Lawrence R. SILVERMAN (since 19 September 2016)
embassy: Bayan 36302, Block 13, Al-Masjed Al-Aqsa Street (near the Bayan palace), Kuwait City
mailing address: P. O. Box 77 Safat 13001 Kuwait; or PSC 1280 APO AE 09880-9000
telephone: [965] 2259-1001
FAX: [965] 2538-6562

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side; colors and design are based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I; green represents fertile fields, white stands for purity, red denotes blood on Kuwaiti swords, black signifies the defeat of the enemy

National symbol(s)

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, red, black

National anthem

name: "Al-Nasheed Al-Watani" (National Anthem)
lyrics/music: Ahmad MUSHARI al-Adwani/Ibrahim Nasir al-SOULA
note: adopted 1978; the anthem is only used on formal occasions


Population below poverty line


Economy - overview

Kuwait has a geographically small, but wealthy, relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels - more than 6% of world reserves. Kuwaiti officials plan to increase oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. Petroleu

In 2015, Kuwait, for the first time in 15 years, realized a budget deficit after decades of high oil prices. Kuwaiti authorities have tried to reduce the deficit by decreasing spending on subsidies for the local population, but with limited success - in 2

Kuwait has failed to diversify its economy or bolster the private sector, because of a poor business climate, a large public sector that crowds out private employment of Kuwaiti nationals, and an acrimonious relationship between the National Assembly and

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$301.1 billion (2016 est.)
$293.7 billion (2015 est.)
$290.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$110.5 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.5% (2016 est.)
1.1% (2015 est.)
0.6% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$71,300 (2016 est.)
$71,500 (2015 est.)
$72,600 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

27.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
31.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
50.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 47.6%
government consumption: 27.2%
investment in fixed capital: 29.5%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 47.8%
imports of goods and services: -52.1% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 59.6%
services: 40% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products



petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials

Industrial production growth rate

1.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

2.546 million
note: non-Kuwaitis represent about 60% of the labor force (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment rate

3% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $47.14 billion
expenditures: $65.32 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

42.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-16.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

23.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
10.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.3% (2016 est.)
3.3% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

1.25% (31 December 2010)
3% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

4.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.3% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$30.98 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$30.95 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$114.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$116 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$102.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$98.46 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$99.77 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$100.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$119.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

$3.939 billion (2016 est.)
$5.97 billion (2015 est.)


$43.84 billion (2016 est.)
$55.32 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

oil and refined products, fertilizers

Exports - partners

South Korea 14.5%, China 12.1%, India 12.1%, Japan 10.4%, US 7.6%, Pakistan 5.9%, Singapore 4.3% (2015)


$28.32 billion (2016 est.)
$27.34 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, construction materials, vehicles and parts, clothing

Imports - partners

China 13.2%, US 9.6%, Saudi Arabia 7.7%, Japan 6.5%, Germany 5.1%, France 4.3%, India 4.2% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$28.72 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$28.37 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$47.89 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$36.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$12.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$12.16 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$73.65 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$69.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar -
0.3024 (2016 est.)
0.3009 (2015 est.)
0.3009 (2014 est.)
0.2845 (2013 est.)
0.28 (2012 est.)


Electricity - production

61 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - access

population without electricity: 56,655
electrification - total population: 98%
electrification - urban areas: 98%
electrification - rural areas: 93% (2012)

Electricity - consumption

54 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

16 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

2.562 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

1.711 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

104 billion bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

890,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

453,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

678,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

11,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

15.03 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

18.49 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

3.46 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

1.784 trillion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

107 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 480,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 17 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 8.305 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 298 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: the quality of service is excellent
domestic: new telephone exchanges provide a large capacity for new subscribers; trunk traffic is carried by microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and open-wire and fiber-optic cable; a mobile-cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is
international: country code - 965; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations - 6 (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV broadcaster operates 4 networks and a satellite channel; several private TV broadcasters have emerged since 2003; satellite TV available with pan-Arab TV stations are especially popular; state-owned Radio Kuwait broadcasts on a number of ch (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 2.289 million
percent of population: 82.1% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 31
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 3,655,366
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 275,777,666 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

9K (2016)


7 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2013)


4 (2013)


gas 261 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2013)


total: 6,608 km (2010)

Merchant marine

total: 34
by type: bulk carrier 2, carrier 3, container 6, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 19
registered in other countries: 45 (Bahamas 1, Bahrain 5, Comoros 1, Libya 1, Malta 3, Marshall Islands 2, Panama 12, Qatar 6, Saudi Arabia 4, UAE 10) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi


Military branches

Kuwaiti Land Forces (KLF), Kuwaiti Navy, Kuwaiti Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya; includes Kuwaiti Air Defense Force, KADF), Kuwaiti National Guard (KNG) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

17-21 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription suspended (2012)

Military expenditures

0% of GDP (2012)
3.35% of GDP (2011)
0% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 93,000 (2015); note - Kuwait's 1959 Nationality Law defined citizens as persons who settled in the country before 1920 and who had maintained normal residence since then; one-third of the population, descendants of Bedouin tribes, missed the window of opportunity to register for nationality rights after Kuwait became independent in 1961 and were classified as bidun (meaning without); since the 1980s Kuwait's bidun have progressively lost their rights, including opportunities for employment and education, amid official claims that they are nationals of other countries who have destroyed their identification documents in hopes of gaining Kuwaiti citizenship; Kuwaiti authorities have delayed processing citizenship applications and labeled biduns as "illegal residents," denying them access to civil documentation, such as birth and marriage certificates

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Kuwait is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser degree, forced prostitution; men and women migrate from South and Southeast Asia, Egypt, the Middle East, and increasingly Africa to work in Kuwait, most of them in the domestic service, construction, and sanitation sectors; although most of these migrants enter Kuwait voluntarily, upon arrival some are subjected to conditions of forced labor by their sponsors and labor agents, including debt bondage; Kuwait’s sponsorship law restricts workers’ movements and penalizes them for running away from abusive workplaces, making domestic workers particularly vulnerable to forced labor in private homes
tier rating: Tier 3 - Kuwait does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making sufficient efforts to do so; although investigations into visa fraud rings lead to the referral of hundreds of people for prosecution, including complicit officials, the government has not prosecuted or convicted any suspected traffickers; authorities made no effort to enforce the prohibition against withholding workers’ passports, as mandated under Kuwaiti law; punishment of forced labor cases was limited to shutting down labor recruitment firms, assessing fines, and ordering the return of withheld passports and the paying of back-wages; the government made progress in victims’ protection by opening a high-capacity shelter for runaway domestic workers but still lacks formal procedures to identify and refer victims to care services (2015)