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Kuwait

The State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت‎, dawlat al-kuwayt) is a sovereign Arab emirate situated in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and lies on the northwestern shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic "akwat", the plural of "kout", meaning fortress built near water. The emirate covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres (6,880 sq mi) and has a population of about 3.0 million.

Historically, the region was the site of Characene, a major Parthian port for trade between India and Mesopotamia. The Bani Utbah tribe were the first permanent Arab settlers in the region and laid the foundation of the modern emirate. By 19th century, Kuwait came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire and after the World War I, it emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's large oil fields were discovered in the late 1930s. After it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, the nation's oil industry saw unprecedented growth.

In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. The seven month-long Iraqi occupation came to an end after a direct military intervention by United States-led forces. Nearly 773 Kuwaiti oil wells were set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi army resulting in a major environmental and economic catastrophe. Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt.

Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government, with Kuwait City serving as the country's political and economic capital. The country has the world's fifth largest oil reserves and petroleum and petroleum products now account for nearly 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. Kuwait is the eleventh richest country in the world per capita and has the highest human development index (HDI) in the Arab world. Kuwait is classified as a high income economy by the World Bank and is designated as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.


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