Basic information on Kuwait

15 October 2012

The total area of Kuwait is 17,820 square kilometres

Official name: State of Kuwait
Head of state: Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah
Capital: Kuwait City
Area: The total area of Kuwait is 17,820 square kilometres.

Geographic location: Kuwait sits on the northwestern shore of the Gulf, in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered to the south by Saudi Arabia and to the north and west by Iraq.

Flag: The Kuwaiti flag features the pan-Arab colours, with three horizontal stripes of green, white and red with a black trapezium on the left side.

Language: The official language is Arabic, but English is widely spoken.

Population: The total population is 3.8 million, of which about 1 million are Kuwaitis.

Time: Kuwait is three hours ahead of GMT.  It does not adjust its clocks for daylight savings.

Currency: The local currency is the Kuwaiti dinar (KD). There are 1,000 fils in one Dinar. One dollar is worth approximately KD0.28. The dinar is the highest-valued currency in the world

Country Code: (+965)

GDP: In 2011, the IMF reported that Kuwait’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was worth $176.7bn, ranking it economy the world’s 52nd largest.

Business Hours: Working ours in Kuwait differ between industries and individual companies. Office hours are generally 8:30am or 9:00am to 5:30pm or 6:00pm for private sector companies. Government ministries and agencies typically remain open from 7.00am to 2.00pm or 2.30pm. Friday is a day of rest, while the second weekend day can be Thursday or Saturday. International companies prefer Saturday, as this keeps more operational days in common with the rest of the world. However, other firms insist on Thursday, as Kuwaiti school weekends are Thursday and Friday.

Cost of living: A 2012 Mercer cost of living survey ranked Kuwait City as the fifth-most expensive city in the GCC, and 134th out of 214 cities worldwide.

Religion: The official religion of Kuwait is Islam. Muslims comprise 85 per cent of the population, of whom 70 per cent are Sunni and 30 per cent Shia. There are also sizeable Hindu, Christian and Buddhist communities. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food and water during daylight hours. Visitors should not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during this time. Business hours are restricted during Ramadan.

Climate: From April to September, Kuwait is intensely hot and dry, with temperatures averaging 42-49 Celsius. During the winter, daytime temperatures hover at about 18C. Sandstorms are particularly common between February and April, but occur throughout the year.

National airlines: Founded in 1954, state-owned Kuwait Airways is the largest carrier in the country. Low-cost airline Jazeera Airways was established in 2004.

Hydrocarbons: Despite being geographically small, Kuwait boasts the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves, standing at more than 100 billion barrels in 2011. Kuwaiti officials have committed to increasing oil production from 2.9 million barrels a day (b/d) to 3.5 million b/d by 2015 and 4 million b/d by 2020. Petroleum accounts for 95 per cent of Kuwait’s export revenues, nearly half of its GDP and 95 per cent of government income. The country has benefited from high oil prices in recent years and managed to maintain a strong financial position following the onset of the economic crisis in 2008. The country posted its 13th consecutive budget surplus in 2011/12.

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