Photos of Kuwait

Much of the sediment clouding the water in this image of the Persian Gulf is from the Shatt al Arab River, which enters the Gulf in the north along the Iran-Iraq border. The river drains the combined waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Iraq, and the Karun River of Iran. Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, most of its fresh water comes from the Shatt al Arab. On the right edge of the image is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, part of the northern Indian Ocean. The Persian Gulf is flanked to the west by wedge-shaped Kuwait and by Saudi Arabia with its vast tan-, pink-, and white-sand deserts; to the south by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman; and to the east by the dry mountains of Iran. The wetlands and rivers of Mesopotamia border the Gulf on the north. The red dots mark gas flares in oil fields of Iran and Iraq. Image courtesy of NASA.

Introduction

Background

Kuwait has been ruled by the AL-SABAH dynasty since the 18th century. The threat of Ottoman invasion in 1899 prompted Amir Mubarak AL-SABAH to seek protection from Britain, ceding foreign and defense responsibility to Britain until 1961, when the country attained its independence. Iraq attacked and overran Kuwait in 1990. After several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led UN coalition began a ground assault in 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. In 1992, the Amir reconstituted the parliament that he had dissolved in 1986. Amid the 2010-11 uprisings and protests across the Arab world, stateless Arabs known as Bidoon staged small protests demanding citizenship, jobs, and other benefits available to Kuwaiti nationals. Other demographic groups, notably Islamists and Kuwaitis from tribal backgrounds, soon joined the growing protest movements, which culminated with the resignation of the prime minister amid allegations of corruption. Demonstrations renewed in 2012 in response to a decree amending the electoral law that lessened the voting power of the tribal blocs.

An opposition coalition of Sunni Islamists, tribal populists, and some liberals largely boycotted legislative elections in 2012 and 2013, which ushered in a legislature more amenable to the government's agenda. Faced with the prospect of painful subsidy cuts, oppositionists and independents actively participated in the 2016 election, winning nearly half the seats, but the opposition became increasingly factionalized. Between 2006 and his death in 2020, the Amir dissolved the National Assembly on seven occasions and shuffled the cabinet over a dozen times, usually citing political stagnation and gridlock between the legislature and the government. 

The current Amir, who assumed his role in 2020, launched a "National Dialogue" in 2021 meant to resolve political gridlock. As part of this initiative, the Amir pardoned several opposition figures who had been living in exile, and they returned to Kuwait. Legislative challenges remain, and the cabinet has been reshuffled six times since 2020. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

29 30 N, 45 45 E

Map references

Middle East

Area

total: 17,818 sq km

land: 17,818 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 157

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 475 km

border countries (2): Iraq 254 km; Saudi Arabia 221 km

Coastline

499 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate

dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters

Terrain

flat to slightly undulating desert plain

Elevation

highest point: 3.6 km W. of Al-Salmi Border Post 300 m

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

mean elevation: 108 m

Natural resources

petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 8.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 7.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.4% (2018 est.)

other: 91.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

100 sq km (2015)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Population distribution

densest settlement is along the Persian Gulf, particularly in Kuwait City and on Bubiyan Island; significant population threads extend south and west along highways that radiate from the capital, particularly in the southern half of the country

Natural hazards

sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year but are most common between March and August

Geography - note

strategic location at head of Persian Gulf

People and Society

Population

total: 3,138,355

male: 1,810,542

female: 1,327,813 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 142; male 133; total 136

Nationality

noun: Kuwaiti(s)

adjective: Kuwaiti

Ethnic groups

Kuwaiti 30.4%, other Arab 27.4%, Asian 40.3%, African 1%, other 0.9% (includes European, North American, South American, and Australian) (2018 est.)

Languages

Arabic (official), English widely spoken

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:

Religions

Muslim (official) 74.6%, Christian 18.2%, other and unspecified 7.2% (2013 est.)

note: data represent the total population; about 72% of the population consists of immigrants

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 23% (male 376,415/female 346,190)

15-64 years: 73.4% (male 1,386,349/female 917,465)

65 years and over: 3.6% (2024 est.) (male 47,778/female 64,158)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 34.4

youth dependency ratio: 28.4

elderly dependency ratio: 6

potential support ratio: 24.9 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 30.3 years (2024 est.)

male: 31.1 years

female: 28.9 years

comparison ranking: total 138

Population growth rate

1.1% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Birth rate

17.5 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Death rate

2.3 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 227

Net migration rate

-4.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 196

Population distribution

densest settlement is along the Persian Gulf, particularly in Kuwait City and on Bubiyan Island; significant population threads extend south and west along highways that radiate from the capital, particularly in the southern half of the country

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.35% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

3.298 million KUWAIT (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.51 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female

total population: 1.36 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

7 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 155

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.9 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 155

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.6 years (2024 est.)

male: 78.1 years

female: 81.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 63

Total fertility rate

2.21 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 82

Gross reproduction rate

1.08 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

6.3% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

2.34 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

2 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

37.9% (2016)

comparison ranking: 11

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 189

Tobacco use

total: 17.9% (2020 est.)

male: 33.5% (2020 est.)

female: 2.2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 93

Education expenditures

6.6% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 30

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 96.5%

male: 97.1%

female: 95.4% (2020)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 13 years

female: 16 years (2015)

Environment

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources; some of world's largest and most sophisticated desalination facilities provide much of the water; air and water pollution; desertification; loss of biodiversity

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping-London Convention

Climate

dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters

Land use

agricultural land: 8.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 7.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.4% (2018 est.)

other: 91.1% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.35% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 195

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 138

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 64.08 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 98.73 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 6.21 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1.75 million tons (2010 est.)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 450 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 780 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: State of Kuwait

conventional short form: Kuwait

local long form: Dawlat al Kuwayt

local short form: Al Kuwayt

etymology: the name derives from the capital city, which is from Arabic "al-Kuwayt" a diminutive of "kut" meaning "fortress," possibly a reference to a small castle built on the current location of Kuwait City by the Beni Khaled tribe in the 17th century

Government type

constitutional monarchy (emirate)

Capital

name: Kuwait City

geographic coordinates: 29 22 N, 47 58 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name derives from Arabic "al-Kuwayt" a diminutive of "kut" meaning "fortress," possibly a reference to a small castle built on the current location of Kuwait City by the Beni Khaled tribe in the 17th century

Administrative divisions

6 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Ahmadi, Al 'Asimah, Al Farwaniyah, Al Jahra', Hawalli, Mubarak al Kabir

Independence

19 June 1961 (from the UK)

National holiday

National Day, 25 February (1950)

Constitution

history: approved and promulgated 11 November 1962; suspended 1976 to 1981 (4 articles); 1986 to 1991; May to July 1999

amendments: proposed by the amir or supported by at least one third of the National Assembly; passage requires two-thirds consent of the Assembly membership and promulgation by the amir; constitutional articles on the initiation, approval, and promulgation of general legislation cannot be amended

Note: on 10 May 2024, Amir Sheikh MISHAL al-Ahmad al-Sabah dissolved the National Assembly and suspended several articles of the constitution for up to four years

Legal system

mixed legal system consisting of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic sharia law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Kuwait

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: not specified

Suffrage

21 years of age and at least 20-year citizenship

Executive branch

chief of state: Amir Sheikh MISHAL al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 16 December 2023)

head of government: Prime Minister AHMAD al-Abdullah al Sabah (since 15 May 2024)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by the amir

elections/appointments: amir chosen from within the ruling family, confirmed by the National Assembly; prime minister appointed by the amir

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Umma (65 seats; 50 members directly elected from 5 multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 15 ex-officio members (cabinet ministers) appointed by the amir; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 4 April 2024 (next to be held in 2028)

election results: 50 nonpartisan candidates, including 29 opposition candidates; composition - men 63, women 2, percent of women 3.1%

Note: on 10 May 2024, Amir Sheikh MISHAL al-Ahmad al-Sabah dissolves the National Assembly, and some powers held by the National Assembly are assumed by the government

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Constitutional Court (consists of 5 judges); Supreme Court or Court of Cassation (organized into several circuits, each with 5 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

Political parties and leaders

none; the government does not recognize any political parties or allow their formation, although no formal law bans political parties

International organization participation

ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BDEAC, CAEU, CD, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, Paris Club (associate), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHRC, UNIDO, UNOOSA, UNRWA, UN Security Council (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador AL-ZAIN Sabah Naser Saud Al-Sabah (since 19 April 2023)

chancery: 2940 Tilden Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 966-0702

FAX: [1] (202) 966-8468

email address and website:
info@kuwaitembassy.us

https://www.kuwaitembassy.us/

consulate(s) general: Beverly Hills (CA), New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d’Affaires James HOLTSNIDER (since July 2021)

embassy: P.O. Box 77, Safat 13001

mailing address: 6200 Kuwait Place, Washington DC  20521-6200

telephone: [00] (965) 2259-1001

FAX: [00] (965) 2538-0282

email address and website:
KuwaitACS@state.gov

https://kw.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, red, black

National anthem

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

Economic overview

small, high-income, oil-based Middle East economy; renewable energy proponent; regional finance and investment leader; maintains oldest sovereign wealth fund; emerging space and tourism industries; mid-way through 25-year development program

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$210.884 billion (2022 est.)
$193.719 billion (2021 est.)
$191.522 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 67

Real GDP growth rate

8.86% (2022 est.)
1.15% (2021 est.)
-8.86% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 22

Real GDP per capita

$49,400 (2022 est.)
$45,600 (2021 est.)
$43,900 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 33

GDP (official exchange rate)

$175.363 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.98% (2022 est.)
3.42% (2021 est.)
2.1% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 55

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: AA (2008)

Moody's rating: A1 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: AA- (2020)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4% (2017 est.)

industry: 58.7% (2017 est.)

services: 40.9% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 207; industry 2; agriculture 210

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 43.1% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 26.5% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 3.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 49.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -47% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

tomatoes, dates, cucumbers/gherkins, eggs, milk, chicken, lamb/mutton, vegetables, potatoes, eggplants (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials

Industrial production growth rate

-12.2% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 213

Labor force

2.422 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 119

Unemployment rate

2.2% (2022 est.)
2.94% (2021 est.)
3.45% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 24

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 25.5% (2021 est.)

male: 17.1%

female: 46.2%

comparison ranking: total 62

Average household expenditures

on food: 19.3% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 0.2% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

Remittances

0.01% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.59% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.02% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $77.988 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $72.03 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-10% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 210

Public debt

20.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
9.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 186

Taxes and other revenues

41.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 9

Current account balance

$63.078 billion (2022 est.)
$34.943 billion (2021 est.)
$22.03 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 12

Exports

$110.923 billion (2022 est.)
$77.121 billion (2021 est.)
$47.416 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 46

Exports - partners

China 24%, India 15%, South Korea 11%, Japan 9%, Taiwan 7% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, hydrocarbons, natural gas, acyclic alcohols (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$55.909 billion (2022 est.)
$48.954 billion (2021 est.)
$44.015 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 64

Imports - partners

UAE 20%, China 16%, Saudi Arabia 9%, US 7%, Japan 4% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

cars, gold, jewelry, garments, packaged medicine (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$52.462 billion (2022 est.)
$49.525 billion (2021 est.)
$52.919 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 44

Debt - external

$47.24 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$38.34 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 71

Exchange rates

Kuwaiti dinars (KD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
0.306 (2022 est.)
0.302 (2021 est.)
0.306 (2020 est.)
0.304 (2019 est.)
0.302 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 19.371 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 63,802,360,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 6.701 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 49; transmission/distribution losses 173; imports 130; exports 111; consumption 44

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 99.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 68,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 68,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 2,720,500 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 342,000 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 1,837,900 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 101.5 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

915,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 22

Refined petroleum products - exports

705,500 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 11

Refined petroleum products - imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 212

Natural gas

production: 19,509,907,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 24,322,970,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 4,805,531,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

proven reserves: 1,783,958,000,000 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

92.582 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 578,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 44.288 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 47.715 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 45

Energy consumption per capita

381.985 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 7

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 573,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 85

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 7.726 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 181 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 104

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Kuwait’s telecom infrastructure is well developed, with a focus on mobile infrastructure and services; the telecom sector is important to the country’s economy, and this will become more pronounced in coming years as the economy is purposefully transitioned away from a dependence on oil and gas to one which is increasingly knowledge-based and focused on ICT and related services; the MNOs have focused investment on 5G networks, which support and promote the growth of data traffic; this in turn has been a catalyst for revenue growth in recent quarters; while Kuwait’s mobile sector shows considerable progress; the country’s fixed broadband system is the lowest in the region; the government has stepped up efforts to build up fixed broadband networks, and ultimately this sector offers a potential future growth opportunity; improvements to the fixed broadband infrastructure will help develop sectors such as e-commerce, along with smart infrastructure developments, and tech start-ups (2022)

domestic: fixed-line subscriptions are nearly 13 per 100 and mobile-cellular stands at nearly 163 per 100 subscriptions (2021)

international: country code - 965; landing points for the FOG, GBICS, MENA, Kuwait-Iran, and FALCON submarine cables linking Africa, the Middle East, and Asia; 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) (2019)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV broadcaster operates 4 networks and a satellite channel; several private TV broadcasters have emerged; satellite TV available and pan-Arab TV stations are 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 (2019)

Internet users

total: 4.3 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 100% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 107

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 73,948 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 133

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 44

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 6,464,847 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 392.36 million (2018) mt-km

Airports

6 (2024)

comparison ranking: 174

Heliports

20 (2024)

Pipelines

261 km gas, 540 km oil, 57 km refined products (2013)

Roadways

total: 5,749 km (201)

paved: 4,887 km

unpaved: 862 km (2018)

comparison ranking: total 148

Merchant marine

total: 176 (2023)

by type: general cargo 15, oil tanker 28, other 133

comparison ranking: total 72

Ports

total ports: 6 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 2

small: 1

very small: 3

ports with oil terminals: 4

key ports: Al Kuwayt, Doha Harbor, Mina Abd Allah, Mina Al Ahmadi, Mina Ash Shuaybah, Mina Az Zawr

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Kuwait Armed Forces (KAF): Kuwait Land Forces (KLF), Kuwait Navy, Kuwait Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya; includes Kuwait Air Defense Force, KADF), 25th Commando Brigade, and the Kuwait Emiri Guard Authority; Kuwait National Guard (KNG) (2024)

note 1: the Emiri Guard Authority and the 25th Commando Brigade exercise independent command authority within the KAF, although activities such as training and equipment procurement are often coordinated with the other services; the 25th Commando Brigade is Kuwait's leading special forces unit; the Emiri Guard Authority (aka Emiri Guard Brigade) is responsible for protecting Kuwait's heads of state

note 2: the National Guard reports directly to the prime minister and the amir and possesses an independent command structure, equipment inventory, and logistics corps separate from the Ministry of Defense, the regular armed services, and the Ministry of Interior; it is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure and providing support for the Ministries of Interior and Defense as required

note 3: the police, Kuwait State Security, and Coast Guard are under the Ministry of Interior

Military expenditures

4.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
6.8% of GDP (2021 est.)
6.3% of GDP (2020 est.)
5.6% of GDP (2019 est.)
5.1% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 13

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 17,000 active-duty armed forces personnel (12,500 Army, including the Amiri Guard and 25th Commando Brigade; 2,000 Navy; 2,500 Air Force); approximately 7,000 National Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military's inventory consists of weapons from a wide variety of sources, including Western Europe, Russia, and the US; the US has been the leading supplier of arms to Kuwait (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-55 years of age for voluntary military service; Kuwait reintroduced 12-month mandatory service for men aged 18-35 in May 2017 after having suspended conscription in 2001; mandatory service is divided in two phases – 4 months for training and 8 months for military service; women were allowed to volunteer in 2021 (2023)

note: the National Guard is restricted to citizens, but in 2018, the Army began allowing non-Kuwaitis to join on contract or as non-commissioned officers; that same year, it also began allowing stateless people (Bidoon) to join

Military - note

the Kuwaiti Armed Forces (KAF) are responsible for external defense; the independent National Guard is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure and providing support for the Ministries of Interior and Defense as required; the National Guard and the Ministry of Interior are the Kuwaiti Government’s lead counterterrorism organizations; Kuwait’s primary security concerns are potential threats emanating from Iran, including regional militias loyal to Iran, and Islamic terrorist groups

the KAF participates in bilateral and multilateral exercises, as well as a limited number of multinational security operations such as maritime patrols in the Persian Gulf; it also provided a few fighter aircraft to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in 2015; the KAF is part of the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council; the Land Forces have approximately six small armored or mechanized brigades, plus the separate Emiri Guard and Commando brigades; the National Guard, which would support the Land Forces in a conflict, is comprised of a mix of security, light armored, and special forces battalions; the Air Force has less than 50 combat aircraft, while the Navy and Coast Guard operate a small force of missile-armed patrol craft and patrol boats
 
Kuwait's key security partner since the 1991 Gulf War has been the US; the US has approximately 13,000 military personnel as well as logistics and training facilities in Kuwait as part of a 1991 Defense Cooperation Agreement and a 2013 Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement; the KAF conducts bilateral exercises with the US military and would look to US assistance in the event of an external attack; Kuwait has Major Non-NATO Ally status with the US, a designation under US law that provides foreign partners with certain benefits in the areas of defense trade and security cooperation (2023)

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 92,000 (2022); 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

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List — Kuwait does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; officials assisted more vulnerable migrant workers at the government shelter, launched an online platform for domestic workers to file grievances, and continued to hold fraudulent recruitment agencies accountable; however, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts, compared to the previous year, to expand its anti-trafficking capacity; there were fewer investigations of alleged trafficking crimes and no prosecutions or convictions of traffickers; fewer victims were identified, and some officials continued to use arbitration and administrative penalties instead of investigating cases as potential human trafficking crimes; Kuwait did not implement procedures to identify and prevent trafficking, nor regularly use standard operating procedures to identify and refer victims to services; officials continued to detain, prosecute, and deport potential trafficking victims, including those fleeing forced labor or in commercial sex, without screening for trafficking indicators; the government did not take any new steps to reform its visa sponsorship system, leaving migrant workers highly vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking; therefore, Kuwait remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit foreign victims in Kuwait; men and women migrate primarily from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and other countries in South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East to work predominantly in the service, sanitation, construction, transportation, security, hospitality, and domestic service sectors, and, most recently, nurses working for medical supply companies; unskilled laborers and female domestic workers are especially vulnerable to forced labor and physical and sexual abuse; undocumented Bidoon (stateless residents of Arab heritage) face challenges gaining lawful employment and remain vulnerable to trafficking; many labor-source countries, including Bhutan, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe continue to restrict their female nationals from domestic employment in Kuwait due to the high risk they face; some visa sponsors subject migrants to forced labor and, to a much lesser extent, sex trafficking; some officials allegedly take bribes or sell work permits to illegal recruiting companies or directly to migrants; Cuban nationals working in Kuwait may have been forced to work by the Cuban government; Kuwait’s sponsorship law restricts workers’ movements and penalizes them for leaving abusive workplaces; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to forced labor inside private homes; reports indicate some workers fleeing abusive employers are exploited in sex trafficking by recruiters or criminals (2023)