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Saudi Arabia

Geography - People - Economy - Government - Communications - Transportation - Military - Transnational Issues

Country information - Saudi Arabia
Country name - conventional long form : Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Country name - conventional short form : Saudi Arabia
Country name - local long form : Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Country name - local short form : Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Government type : monarchy
Capital - name : Riyadh
Capital - time difference : UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
National holiday : Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)
Nationality - noun : Saudi(s)
Nationality - adjective : Saudi or Saudi Arabian
Languages : Arabic
Currency (code) : Saudi riyal (SAR)
Currency code : SAR

Saudi Arabia is located Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen. The climate is harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes. The terrain is mostly uninhabited, sandy desert.

Background

This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Background : Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. A male descendent of Ibn Saud, his son ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz, rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. 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. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide from February through April 2005 for half the members of 179 municipal councils. In December 2005, King ABDALLAH completed the process by appointing the remaining members of the advisory municipal councils. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.



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