Middle East :: Kuwait

Introduction ::Kuwait

    Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led, UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family has ruled since returning to power in 1991 and reestablished an elected legislature that in recent years has become increasingly assertive. The country witnessed the historic election in May 2009 of four women to its National Assembly. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, staged small protests in February and March 2011 demanding citizenship, jobs, and other benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals. Youth activist groups - supported by opposition legislators and the prime minister's rivals within the ruling family - rallied repeatedly in 2011 for an end to corruption and the ouster of the prime minister and his cabinet. Opposition legislators forced the prime minister to resign in late 2011. In October-December 2012, Kuwait witnessed unprecedented protests in response to the Amir's changes to the electoral law by decree reducing the number of votes per person from four to one. The opposition, led by a coalition of Sunni Islamists, tribalists, some liberals, and myriad youth groups, boycotted the December 2012 legislative election, resulting in a historic number of Shia candidates winning seats. Since 2006, the Amir has dissolved the National Assembly on five occasions (the Constitutional Court annulled the Assembly once in June 2012) and reshuffled the cabinet 12 times, usually citing political stagnation and gridlock between the legislature and the government.

Geography ::Kuwait

People and Society ::Kuwait

Government ::Kuwait

    conventional long form: State of Kuwait
    conventional short form: Kuwait
    local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt
    local short form: Al Kuwayt
    constitutional emirate
    name: Kuwait City
    geographic coordinates: 29 22 N, 47 58 E
    time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir
    19 June 1961 (from the UK)
    National Day, 25 February (1950)
    approved and promulgated 11 November 1962
    mixed legal system consisting of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic religious law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    21 years of age; universal; note - males in the military or police are by law not allowed to vote; all voters must have been citizens for 20 years
    chief of state: Amir SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 29 January 2006); Crown Prince NAWAF al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (born 25 June 1937)
    head of government: Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBARAK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 30 November 2011); First Deputy Prime Minister KHALID al-Jarrah al-Sabah; Deputy Prime Ministers MUHAMMAD AL-KHALID al-Hamad al-Sabah, SALIM al-Abd al-Aziz al-Saud al-Sabah, Mustafa al-Jassim al-SHAMALI
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir; new cabinet formed in February 2012
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    elections: none; the amir is hereditary; the amir appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers
    unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (65 seats - 50 members elected by popular vote plus 16 cabinet ministers, one of whom is also an elected MP, appointed by the prime minister as ex officio voting members; elected members serve four-year terms)
    elections: last held 27 July 2013 (next to be held in July 2017)
    election results: percent of vote - NA; seats won - tribal and liberal groups 27, Shiite 8, Sunni 7, other 8
    highest court(s): Constitutional Court (five judges); Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (organized into several circuits, each with five judges)
    judge selection and term of office: all Kuwaiti judges appointed by the Amir upon recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, a consultative body comprised of Kuwaiti judges and Ministry of Justice officials
    subordinate courts: High Court of Appeal; Court of First Instance; Summary Court
    none; while the formation of political parties is not permitted, they are not forbidden by law
    other: Islamists; merchants; political groups; secular liberals and pro-governmental deputies; Shia activists; tribal groups
    chief of mission: Ambassador SALIM al-Abdallah al-Jabir al-Sabah
    chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702
    FAX: [1] (202) 364-2868
    consulate(s) general: Los Angeles
    chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew H. TUELLER
    embassy: Bayan 36302, Block 13, Al-Masjed Al-Aqsa Street (near the Bayan palace), Kuwait City
    mailing address: P. O. Box 77 Safat 13001 Kuwait; or PSC 1280 APO AE 09880-9000
    telephone: [965] 2259-1001
    FAX: [965] 2538-0282
    three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a black trapezoid based on the hoist side; colors and design are based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I; green represents fertile fields, white stands for purity, red denotes blood on Kuwaiti swords, black signifies the defeat of the enemy
    golden falcon
    name: "Al-Nasheed Al-Watani" (National Anthem)

    lyrics/music: Ahmad MUSHARI al-Adwani/Ibrahim Nasir al-SOULA
    note: adopted 1978; the anthem is only used on formal occasions

Economy ::Kuwait

Energy ::Kuwait

Communications ::Kuwait

    514,700 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    4.935 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 105
    general assessment: the quality of service is excellent
    domestic: new telephone exchanges provide a large capacity for new subscribers; trunk traffic is carried by microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and open-wire and fiber-optic cable; a mobile-cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is well supplied with pay telephones
    international: country code - 965; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations - 6 (3 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean, and 2 Arabsat) (2011)
    state-owned TV broadcaster operates 4 networks and a satellite channel; several private TV broadcasters have emerged since 2003; satellite TV available with pan-Arab TV stations especially popular; state-owned Radio Kuwait broadcasts on a number of channels in Arabic and English; first private radio station emerged in 2005; transmissions of at least 2 international radio broadcasters are available (2007)
    2,771 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    1.1 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 96

Transportation ::Kuwait

    7 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 168
    total: 4
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
    914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 3
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    under 914 m:
    2 (2013)
    4 (2013)
    gas 261 km; oil 540 km; refined products 57 km (2013)
    total: 5,749 km
    country comparison to the world: 150
    paved: 4,887 km
    unpaved: 862 km (2004)
    total: 34
    country comparison to the world: 82
    by type: bulk carrier 2, carrier 3, container 6, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 19
    registered in other countries: 45 (Bahamas 1, Bahrain 5, Comoros 1, Libya 1, Malta 3, Marshall Islands 2, Panama 12, Qatar 6, Saudi Arabia 4, UAE 10) (2010)
    Ash Shu'aybah, Ash Shuwaykh, Az Zawr (Mina' Sa'ud), Mina' 'Abd Allah, Mina' al Ahmadi

Military ::Kuwait

Transnational Issues ::Kuwait

    Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf
    stateless persons: 93,000 (2012); note - Kuwait's 1959 Nationality Law defined citizens as persons who settled in the country before 1920 and who had maintained normal residence since then; one-third of the population, descendants of Bedouin tribes, missed the window of opportunity to register for nationality rights after Kuwait became independent in 1961 and were classified as bidun (meaning without); since the 1980s Kuwait's bidun have progressively lost their rights, including opportunities for employment and education, amid official claims that they are nationals of other countries who have destroyed their identification documents in hopes of gaining Kuwaiti citizenship; Kuwaiti authorities have delayed processing citizenship applications and labeled biduns as "illegal residents," denying them access to civil documentation, such as birth and marriage certificates; 2011 bidun demonstrations for the recognition of their Kuwaiti nationality led to several arrests
    current situation: Kuwait is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser degree, forced prostitution; men and women migrate from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, Jordan, Ethiopia, and Iraq to work in Kuwait, most of them in the domestic service, construction, and sanitation sectors; although most of these migrants enter Kuwait voluntarily, upon arrival some are subjected to conditions of forced labor by their sponsors and labor agents, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace
    tier rating: Tier 3 - Kuwait does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making sufficient efforts to do so; the government enacted comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation in 2013 but did not report any arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of traffickers for either forced labor or sex trafficking in the last year; Kuwait's victim protection measures remain weak, particularly due to its lack of proactive victim identification procedures and continued reliance on the sponsorship system, which causes victims of trafficking to be punished for immigration violations rather than protected (2013)