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 king instituted an Inter-Faith Dialogue initiative in 2008 to encourage religious tolerance on a global level; in February 2009, he reshuffled the cabinet, which led to more moderates holding ministerial and judicial positions, and appointed the first female to the cabinet. 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.
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen
Area land: 2,149,690 sq km
Area water: 0 sq km
Coastline: 2,640 km
Country name conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Country name conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
Country name former: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Age structure: 0-14 years: 29.4% (male 3,939,377/female 3,754,020); 15-64 years: 67.6% (male 9,980,253/female 7,685,328); 65 years and over: 3% (male 404,269/female 368,456) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.536% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 19.34 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 3.33 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.27 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female; total population: 1.17 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 16.16 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 18.54 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 13.65 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.11 years; male: 72.15 years; female: 76.16 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.31 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.01% (2001 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA;
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Saudi(s); adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian;
Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%;
Religions: Muslim 100%;
Languages: Arabic (official);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 78.8%; male: 84.7%; female: 70.8% (2003 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $622.5 billion (2010 est.); $599.7 billion (2009 est.); $599.1 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $434.4 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 3.8% (2010 est.); 0.1% (2009 est.); 4.3% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $24,200 (2010 est.); $23,700 (2009 est.); $24,000 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.7%; industry: 61.9%; services: 35.4% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 7.337 million;
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 6.7%; industry: 21.4%; services: 71.9% (2005 est.);
Unemployment rate: 10.8% (2010 est.); 10.5% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $185.1 billion; expenditures: $173.1 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction;
Industrial production growth rate: 3.1% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 179.1 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 165.1 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
(Pro-government, English-language), Jidda
(Official news service, English-language), Riyadh
Displaying 1 to 4 of 39 items.
Saudi Arabia has succeeded in maintaining its market share throughout the oil bust by continuing to ratchet up production.
In its battle for regional dominance and ongoing rivalry with Shi'ite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a number of strategic battles throughout the Middle East.
By getting involved in the Syria conflict, Saudi Arabia is looking to protect its interests in a region that sits atop fault lines of sectarian divide.
The inclusion of women in the Shura Council is a first step towards Saudi women assuming leadership positions in public life and achieving proper justice.