Saudi Arabia

Map Saudi Arabia
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Saudi Arabia


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
Population: 26,131,703
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.);

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

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.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

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;
note: about 80% of the labor force is non-national (2010 est.)

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.);
note: data are for Saudi males only (local bank estimates; some estimates range as high as 25%)

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), Riyadh


(Pro-government), Abha


(Pro-government), Dammam

Arab News

(Pro-government, English-language), Jidda

Makkah Newspaper

(N/A), Makkah

Saudi News Agency

(Official news service, English-language), Riyadh

Saudi Arabia in the News

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Displaying 9 to 12 of 40 items.

Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform

The 2009 Report on Human Rights in the Arab Region analyzes everything from civil war in Lebanon to war crimes in Darfur, as well as state oppression in Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Saudis Call for Dialogue

The kingdom has long been perceived as a piece of desert ruled by an ultraconservative clergy with radical interpretations of Islam.… My Saudi friend calls these sheer misperceptions.

The Saudi Monarch's Visit to Another Kingdom

Saudi Arabia's huge oil reserves and the untold amount of Saudi cash invested in Western banks, property and even some strategic sectors make it an ideal place for the British to do business.

Tourists in a Divided Kingdom

Shopping has become the primary vice for many Muslims, and pilgrimage trips by Muslims from all over the world allow plenty of time to partake in faith-based shopping: buying trinkets in the holy cities.