Saudi Arabia

 

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.

 

Geography:
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen
Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 45 00 E
People:
Population: 26,534,504 (July 2012 est.)

note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals

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.)

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)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 4.166 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 51.564 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 216 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 80

over 3,047 m: 33

2,438 to 3,047 m: 15

1,524 to 2,437 m: 26

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 4 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Ministry of Defence and Aviation Forces: Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Naval Forces (includes Marine Forces and Special Forces), Royal Saudi Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Malakiya as-Sa’udiya), Royal Saudi Air Defence Forces, Royal Saudi Strategic Rocket Forces, Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2004)

Economy:

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, nearly 40% of which are youths under 15 years old.