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The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century and controlled Kuwait by 1521, but it fell to the powerful Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. Kuwait was semi-autonomous within the Ottoman Empire, headed by Sabah I bin Jaber, the Emir of Kuwait. Kuwait's prominence as a port along significant trade routes increased, facilitating frequent trade between Kuwait and the Persian Gulf countries and Aleppo, as well as Baghdad, Constantinople, and even the African coasts. Kuwait prospered from its trade through the 18th century.
Kuwait's Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah signed an agreement in 1899 to become a protectorate of Britain to avoid Ottoman control. Oil was discovered in 1937, renewing Kuwait's wealth and prosperity and making it the Gulf's largest oil exporting country.
Kuwait became an independent country in 1961 and held its first elections in 1963. The country suffered an economic crisis in the 1980s when the stock market crashed and the price of oil decreased, but this did not last long. Kuwait became involved in the war between Iran and Iraq, siding with Iraq, but the liaison soured, and Iraq invaded Kuwait. The United States became involved in the conflict that would become known as the Gulf War in 1990, forcing the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Kuwait also experienced public uprisings during Arab Spring of 2011 and 2012.
Kuwait borders Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and is located across the Persian Gulf from Iran.
- Kuwait City (capital)
Kuwait is situated in Western Asia, on the Arabian Peninsula, and is covered mostly in the Arabian Desert, which is mostly flat and covered in sand. In fact, Kuwait's highest point is only 306 meters (1,004 feet) above sea level. Kuwait City is situated along Kuwait Bay.
Kuwait's territory also includes nine islands, the largest of which is Bubiyan, connected to the mainland by a bridge. The only permanently inhabited island of Kuwait is Failaka Island, which has been inhabited since ancient times.
One of Kuwait's most important characteristics is its oil fields, with at least 70 billion barrels of reserves. Kuwait does not have any significant rivers, but it has wadis (dry river beds). The most significant of these is Wadi al Batin, which forms the border between Iraq and Kuwait.
Points of Interest
Kuwat's Failaka Island is a historic island with many archaeological sites, like the Greek temple and many ruins. For outdoor destinations, Kuwait's main attraction is its bay and the Kazmah desert cliffs, which allow great views of the bay.
Kuwait City is a busy capital with a few main attractions. The Kuwait Towers are its most prominent site, which are a collection of various sized spheres on pointy towers. There are stairs to the viewing sphere and a rotating platform, as well as a restaurant, which is perfect for enjoying the sunset. Another towering landmark in Kuwait City is the Liberation Tower, which can be seen across the city. The capital is also home to museums and cultural sites including the National Museum, Sadu House, and Bayt Al-Badr.
The Grand Mosque is an architectural attraction, while the Seif Palace features Islamic architecture and gardens. The fish market of Kuwait City offers a cultural experience, while the Entertainment City and Scientific Center offer another type of amusement.
The only airport in Kuwait is called Kuwait International Airport, which offers service to various locations in the Middle East, with some destinations in Europe, Africa, and North America. Car, bus, and boat are potential methods of reaching Kuwait, with primary service to Saudi Arabia. Cars are a great way to get around this small country, with well maintained and simple freeways and roads. Taxis are available for transport around the city and can often be negotiated for a full day's use. There is also a public transportation system in place with several bus lines that can be quite busy.
Last Updated on : December 10, 2013
Lat Long29.366667, 47.966667
Largest CityKuwait City
Form of GovernmentUnitary parliamentary hereditary
PresidentSabah al-Sabah (Emir)
Vice PresidentNawaf al-Sabah (Crown Prince)
Prime MinisterJaber Al-Hamad al-Sabah
CurrencyKuwaiti dinar (KWD)
GDP$163.671 billion 2011 estimate
Time ZoneAST / KSA (UTC+3)