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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Saudi Arabia
 
Flag of Saudi Arabia                                Map 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 country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds approximately 25% 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.
  
Geography
  
Location:Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen
Geographic coordinates:25 00 N, 45 00 E
Map references:Middle East
Area:total: 2,149,690 sq km
land: 2,149,690 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area—comparative:slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US
Land boundaries:total: 4,431 km
border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 744 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km
Coastline:2,640 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate:harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes
Terrain:mostly uninhabited, sandy desert
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m
Natural resources:petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper
Land use:arable land: 1.67%
permanent crops: 0.09%
other: 98.24% (2005)
Irrigated land:16,200 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:2.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 17.32 cu km/yr (10%/1%/89%)
per capita: 705 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:frequent sand and dust storms
Environment—current issues:desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills
Environment—international agreements:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography—note:extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal
  
People
  
Population:27,601,038
note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 38.2% (male 5,369,285/female 5,162,585)
15-64 years: 59.4% (male 9,316,694/female 7,089,370)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 348,827/female 314,277) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 21.4 years
male: 22.9 years
female: 19.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:2.06% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:29.1 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:2.55 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:-5.95 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.314 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female
total population: 1.196 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 12.41 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.24 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 75.88 years
male: 73.85 years
female: 78.02 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:3.94 children born/woman (2007 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
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.8%
male: 84.7%
female: 70.8% (2003 est.)
  
Government
  
Country name:conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Government type:monarchy
Capital:name: Riyadh
geographic coordinates: 24 38 N, 46 43 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk
Independence:23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)
National holiday:Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)
Constitution:governed according to Islamic law; the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was promulgated by royal decree in 1992
Legal system:based on Shari'a law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:21 years of age; male
Executive branch:chief of state: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abd al- Aziz Al Saud (half brother of the monarch, born 5 January 1928) note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many royal family members
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but the new system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan becomes king
Legislative branch:Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent to introduce elections for half of the members of local and provincial assemblies and a third of the members of the national Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura, incrementally over a period of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced
Judicial branch:Supreme Council of Justice
Political parties and leaders:none
Political pressure groups and leaders:none
International organization participation:ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, BIS, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Adil al-Ahmad al-JUBAYR
chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3113
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Ford FRAKER
embassy: Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
telephone: [966] (1) 488-3800
FAX: [966] (1) 488-7360
consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)
Flag description:green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God") above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932
  
Economy
  
Economy—overview:Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses more than 20% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors. High oil prices have boosted growth, government revenues, and Saudi ownership of foreign assets, while enabling Riyadh to pay down domestic debt. The government is encouraging private sector growth - especially in power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemicals - to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil exports and to increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population, 40% of which are youths under 15 years old. Unemployment is high, and the large youth population generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, infrastructure development, and government salaries. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment and diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has announced plans to establish six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to promote development and diversification.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$572.2 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$374.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:4.7% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$20,700 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 3%
industry: 61.8%
services: 35.2% (2007 est.)
Labor force:6.488 million
note: more than 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2007 est.)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 12%
industry: 25%
services: 63% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:13% among Saudi males only (local bank estimate; some estimates range as high as 25%) (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):3.4% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):18.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $193.7 billion
expenditures: $122.2 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:22.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk
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:0.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:165.6 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:146.9 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:11 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil—consumption:2 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil—exports:8.9 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil—imports:0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:266.8 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:68.32 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:68.32 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:6.568 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$88.89 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:$215 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:petroleum and petroleum products 90%
Exports—partners:Japan 17.7%, US 15.8%, South Korea 9%, China 7.2%, Taiwan 4.6%, Singapore 4.4% (2006)
Imports:$82.77 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
Imports—partners:US 12.2%, Germany 9.1%, China 7.9%, Japan 7.3%, UK 4.8%, Italy 4.8%, South Korea 4.1% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$34 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt—external:$52.89 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment—at home:$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment—abroad:$NA
Market value of publicly traded shares:$326.9 billion (2006)
Economic aid—donor:since 2002, Saudi Arabia has provided more than $480 million in budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority, supported Palestinian refugees through contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), provided more than $250 million to Arab League funds for the Palestinians, and pledged $500 million in assistance over the next three years at the Donors Conference in Dec 2007; pledged $230 million to development in Afghanistan; pledged $1 billion in export guarantees and soft loans to Iraq; pledged $133 million in direct grant aid, $187 million in concessional loans, and $153 million in export credits for Pakistan earthquake relief; pledged a total of $1.59 billion to Lebanon in assistance and deposits to the Central Bank of Lebanon in 2006 and pledged an additional $1.1 billion in early 2007
Economic aid—recipient:$26.29 million (2005)
Currency (code):Saudi riyal (SAR)
Exchange rates:Saudi riyals per US dollar - 3.745 (2007), 3.745 (2006), 3.747 (2005), 3.75 (2004), 3.75 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
  
Communications
  
Telephones—main lines in use:4.5 million (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:19.663 million (2006)
Telephone system:general assessment: modern system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable systems; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing rapidly
international: country code - 966; landing point for the international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks providing connectivity to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and US; microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:117 (1997)
Internet country code:.sa
Internet hosts:18,369 (2007)
Internet users:4.7 million (2006)
  
Transportation
  
Airports:213 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 77
over 3,047 m: 32
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 136
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 73
914 to 1,523 m: 39
under 914 m: 15 (2007)
Heliports:8 (2007)
Pipelines:condensate 212 km; gas 1,880 km; liquid petroleum gas 1,183 km; oil 4,521 km; refined products 1,148 km (2007)
Railways:total: 1,392 km
standard gauge: 1,392 km 1.435-m gauge (with branch lines and sidings) (2006)
Roadways:total: 152,044 km
paved: 45,461 km
unpaved: 106,583 km (2000)
Merchant marine:total: 59 ships (1000 GRT or over) 847,094 GRT/1,059,026 DWT
by type: cargo 5, chemical tanker 15, container 4, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 16, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 8
foreign-owned: 10 (Egypt 1, Greece 2, Kuwait 6, UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 63 (Bahamas 15, Comoros 1, Dominica 1, France 1, Liberia 24, Marshall Islands 4, Norway 3, Panama 14) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jiddah, Yanbu' al Sinaiyah
  
Military
  
Military branches:Land Forces (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Ministry of Interior Forces (paramilitary)
Military service age and obligation:18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2004)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 7,648,999
females age 18-49: 5,417,922 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 6,592,709
females age 18-49: 4,659,347 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 247,334
females age 18-49: 234,500 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:10% (2005 est.)
  
Transnational Issues
  
Disputes—international:Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal cross-border activities; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue discussions on a maritime boundary with Iran
Refugees and internally displaced persons:refugees (country of origin): 240,015 (Palestinian Territories) (2006)
Trafficking in persons:current situation: Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from South and Southeast Asia who are subjected to conditions that constitute involuntary servitude including being subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because some are confined to the house in which they work unable to seek help; Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street vendors; some Nigerian women were reportedly trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so
Illicit drugs:death penalty for traffickers; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement

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