Geography of Kuwait

Learn Information about the Middle Eastern Nation of Kuwait

Kuwait Flag
The Kuwait flag has three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side; design, which dates to 1961, based on the Arab revolt flag of World War I. Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Capital: Kuwait City
Population: 2,595,628 (July 2011 estimate)
Area: 6,879 square miles (17,818 sq km)
Coastline: 310 miles (499 km)
Border Countries: Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Highest Point: An unnamed point at 1,004 feet (306 m)

Kuwait, officially called the State of Kuwait, is a country located on the northeastern portion of the Arab Peninsula. It shares borders with Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and west (map).

Kuwait’s eastern borders are along the Persian Gulf. Kuwait has a total area of 6,879 square miles (17,818 sq km) and a population density of 377 people per square mile or 145.6 people per square kilometer. Kuwait’s capital and largest city is Kuwait City. Most recently Kuwait has been in the news because in early December 2011 Kuwait’s emir (the chief of state) dissolved the its parliament following a protest demanding that the country’s prime minister step down.

History of Kuwait

Archaeologists believe that Kuwait has been inhabited since ancient times. Evidence shows that Failaka, one of the country’s largest islands, was once an ancient Sumerian trading post. By the first century C.E. however, Failaka was abandoned.

Kuwait’s modern history began in the 18th century when the Uteiba founded Kuwait City. In the 19th century, control of Kuwait was threatened by the Ottoman Turks and other groups located on the Arabian Peninsula.

As a result, Kuwait’s ruler Sheikh Mubarak Al Sabah signed an agreement with the British Government in 1899 that promised Kuwait would not cede any lands to any foreign power without Britain’s consent. The agreement was signed in exchange for British protection and financial aid.

Throughout the early to mid-20th century, Kuwait underwent significant growth and its economy was dependent on shipbuilding and pearl diving by 1915.

In the period from 1921 to 1950, oil was discovered in Kuwait and the government attempted to create recognized borders. In 1922 the Treaty of Uqair established Kuwait’s border with Saudi Arabia. By mid-20th century Kuwait began pushing for independence from Great Britain and on June 19, 1961 Kuwait became fully independent. Following its independence, Kuwait experienced a period of growth and stability, despite Iraq’s claiming of the new country. In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and in February 1991, a United Nations coalition led by the United States liberated the country. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the U.N. Security Council drew new borders between Kuwait and Iraq based on historic agreements. The two nations continue to struggle to maintain peaceful relations today however.

Government of Kuwait

Kuwait’s government consists of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The executive branch is made up of a chief of state (the country’s emir) and a head of government (the prime minister). Kuwait’s legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly, while its judicial branch is made up of the High Court of Appeal. Kuwait is divided into six governorates for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Kuwait

Kuwait has a wealthy, open economy that is dominated by oil industries. Around 9% of the world’s oil reserves are within Kuwait. The other major industries of Kuwait are cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing and construction industries. Agriculture does not play a large role in the country because of its harsh desert climate. Fishing however, is a major part of Kuwait’s economy.

Geography and Climate of Kuwait

Kuwait is located in the Middle East along the Persian Gulf. It has a total area of 6,879 square miles (17,818 sq km) consisting of the mainland as well as nine islands, of which Failaka is the largest. Kuwait’s coastline is 310 miles (499 km). Kuwait’s topography is mainly flat but it does have a rolling desert plain. The highest point in Kuwait is an unnamed point at 1,004 feet (306 m).

The climate of Kuwait is dry desert and it has very hot summers and short, cool winters.

Sandstorms are also common during June and July due to wind patterns and thunderstorms often occur in the spring. The average August high temperature for Kuwait is 112ºF (44.5ºC) while the average January low temperature is 45ºF (7ºC).

To learn more about Kuwait, visit the Geography and Maps of Kuwait on this website.

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Briney, Amanda, Contributing Writer. "Geography of Kuwait." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/geography-of-kuwait-1435081. Briney, Amanda, Contributing Writer. (2017, March 3). Geography of Kuwait. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/geography-of-kuwait-1435081 Briney, Amanda, Contributing Writer. "Geography of Kuwait." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/geography-of-kuwait-1435081 (accessed January 20, 2018).