Photos of Oman

Introduction

Background

The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered from Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, the nascent sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, although the sultanate never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al-Said overthrew his father, and has since ruled as sultan. Sultan QABOOS has no children and has not designated a successor publicly; the Basic Law of 1996 outlines Oman’s succession procedure. Sultan QABOOS’ extensive modernization program opened the country to the outside world, and the sultan has prioritized strategic ties with the UK and US. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with its neighbors and to avoid external entanglements.

Inspired by the popular uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa beginning in January 2011, some Omanis staged demonstrations, calling for more jobs and economic benefits and an end to corruption. In response to those protester demands, QABOOS in 2011 pledged to implement economic and political reforms, such as granting Oman’s bicameral legislative body more power and authorizing direct elections for its lower house, which took place in November 2011. Additionally, the Sultan increased unemployment benefits, and, in August 2012, issued a royal directive mandating the speedy implementation of a national job creation plan for thousands of public and private sector Omani jobs. As part of the government's efforts to decentralize authority and allow greater citizen participation in local governance, Oman successfully conducted its first municipal council elections in December 2012. Announced by the sultan in 2011, the municipal councils have the power to advise the Royal Court on the needs of local districts across Oman's 11 governorates. Sultan QABOOS, Oman's longest reigning monarch, died on 11 January 2020. His cousin, HAYTHAM bin Tariq bin Taimur Al-Said, former Minister of Heritage and Culture, was sworn in as Oman's new sultan the same day.

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

Geography

Location

Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and the UAE

Geographic coordinates

21 00 N, 57 00 E

Map references

Middle East

Area

total: 309,500 sq km

land: 309,500 sq km

water: 0 sq km

country comparison to the world: 72

Land boundaries

total: 1,561 km

border countries (3): Saudi Arabia 658 km, UAE 609 km, Yemen 294 km

Coastline

2,092 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

Climate

dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south

Terrain

central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south

Elevation

mean elevation: 310 m

lowest point: Arabian Sea 0 m

highest point: Jabal Shams 3,004 m

Natural resources

petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 4.7% (2011 est.)

arable land: 0.1% (2011 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2011 est.)

permanent pasture: 4.5% (2011 est.)

forest: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 95.3% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

590 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

the vast majority of the population is located in and around the Al Hagar Mountains in the north of the country; another smaller cluster is found around the city of Salalah in the far south; most of the country remains sparsely poplulated

Natural hazards

summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues

limited natural freshwater resources; high levels of soil and water salinity in the coastal plains; beach pollution from oil spills; industrial effluents seeping into the water tables and aquifers; desertificaiton due to high winds driving desert sand into arable lands

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

consists of Oman proper and two northern exclaves, Musandam and Al Madhah; the former is a peninsula that occupies a strategic location adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil

People and Society

Population

4,664,844 (December 2019 est.)

note: immigrants make up approximately 46% of the total population (2019)

country comparison to the world: 126

Nationality

noun: Omani(s)

adjective: Omani

Ethnic groups

Arab, Baluchi, South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi), African

Languages

Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Swahili, Urdu, Indian dialects

Religions

Muslim 85.9%, Christian 6.5%, Hindu 5.5%, Buddhist 0.8%, Jewish <0.1%, other 1%, unaffiliated 0.2% (2010 est.)

note: Omani citizens represent approximately 56.4% of the population and are overwhelming Muslim (Ibadhi and Sunni sects each constitute about 45% and Shia about 5%); Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists account for roughly 5% of Omani citizens

Age structure

0-14 years: 30.15% (male 561,791/female 533,949)

15-24 years: 17.35% (male 331,000/female 299,516)

25-54 years: 44.81% (male 928,812/female 699,821)

55-64 years: 4.02% (male 77,558/female 68,427)

65 years and over: 3.68% (male 64,152/female 69,663) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 33.3

youth dependency ratio: 30

elderly dependency ratio: 3.3

potential support ratio: 29.9 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 26.2 years

male: 27.2 years

female: 25.1 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 155

Birth rate

23.1 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 56

Death rate

3.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 223

Net migration rate

-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123

Population distribution

the vast majority of the population is located in and around the Al Hagar Mountains in the north of the country; another smaller cluster is found around the city of Salalah in the far south; most of the country remains sparsely poplulated

Urbanization

urban population: 86.3% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 5.25% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.550 million MUSCAT (capital) (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.33 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female

total population: 1.18 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

19 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 126

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 12 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 109

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.3 years

male: 74.4 years

female: 78.4 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 98

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

1.96 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

1.5 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95.7%

male: 97%

female: 92.7% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years

male: 14 years

female: 15 years (2019)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Sultanate of Oman

conventional short form: Oman

local long form: Saltanat Uman

local short form: Uman

former: Sultanate of Muscat and Oman

etymology: the origin of the name is uncertain, but it apparently dates back at least 2,000 years since an "Omana" is mentioned by Pliny the Elder (1st century A.D.) and an "Omanon" by Ptolemy (2nd century A.D.)

Government type

absolute monarchy

Capital

name: Muscat

geographic coordinates: 23 37 N, 58 35 E

time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name, whose meaning is uncertain, traces back almost two millennia; two 2nd century A.D. scholars, the geographer Ptolemy and the historian Arrian, both mention an Arabian Sea coastal town of Moscha, which most likely referred to Muscat

Administrative divisions

11 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafaza); Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Buraymi, Al Wusta, Az Zahirah, Janub al Batinah (Al Batinah South), Janub ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah South), Masqat (Muscat), Musandam, Shamal al Batinah (Al Batinah North), Shamal ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah North), Zufar (Dhofar)

Independence

1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)

National holiday

National Day, 18 November; note - celebrates Oman's independence from Portugal in 1650 and the birthday of Sultan QABOOS bin Said al Said, who reigned from 1970 to 2020

Constitution

history: promulgated by royal decree 6 November 1996 (the Basic Law of the Sultanate of Oman serves as the constitution)amended by royal decree in 2011

amendments: promulgated by the sultan or proposed by the Council of Oman and drafted by a technical committee as stipulated by royal decree and then promulgated through royal decree; amended by royal decree in 2011

Legal system

mixed legal system of Anglo-Saxon law and Islamic 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: the father must be a citizen of Oman

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown

Suffrage

21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces by law cannot vote

Executive branch

chief of state: Sultan and Prime Minister HAYTHAM bin Tariq bin Taimur Al-Said (since 11 January 2020); note - the monarch is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: Sultan and Prime Minister HAYTHAM bin Tariq bin Taimur Al-Said (since 11 January 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch

elections/appointments: members of the Ruling Family Council determine a successor from the sultan's extended family; if the Council cannot form a consensus within 3 days of the sultan's death or incapacitation, the Defense Council will relay a predetermined heir as chosen by the sultan

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Council of Oman or Majlis Oman consists of:
Council of State or Majlis al-Dawla (85 seats including the chairman; members appointed by the sultan from among former government officials and prominent educators, businessmen, and citizens)
Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (86 seats; members directly elected in single- and 2-seat constituencies by simple majority popular vote to serve renewable 4-year terms); note - since political reforms in 2011, legislation from the Consultative Council is submitted to the Council of State for review by the Royal Court

elections: Council of State - last appointments on 11 July 2019 (next - NA)
Consultative Assembly - last held on 27 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2023)

election results:
Council of State - composition - men 70, women 15, percent of women 17.6%
Consultative Council percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA (organized political parties in Oman are legally banned); composition men 84, women 2, percent of women 2.3%; note - total Council of Oman percent of women 9.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 5 judges)

judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the 9-member Supreme Judicial Council (chaired by the monarch) and appointed by the monarch; judges appointed for life

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Administrative Court; Courts of First Instance; sharia courts; magistrates' courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

none; note - organized political parties are legally banned in Oman, and loyalties tend to form around tribal affiliations

International organization participation

ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad al-MUGHAIRI (since 2 December 2005)

chancery: 2535 Belmont Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 387-1980

FAX: [1] (202) 745-4933

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Leslie M. TSOU (since 19 January 2020)

telephone: [968] 24-643-400

embassy: P.C. 115, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Muscat

mailing address: P.O. Box 202, P.C. 115, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Muscat

FAX: [968] 24-643-740

Flag description

three horizontal bands of white (top), red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band; white represents peace and prosperity, red recalls battles against foreign invaders, and green symbolizes the Jebel al Akhdar (Green Mountains) and fertility

National symbol(s)

khanjar dagger superimposed on two crossed swords; national colors: red, white, green

National anthem

name: "Nashid as-Salaam as-Sultani" (The Sultan's Anthem)

lyrics/music: Rashid bin Uzayyiz al KHUSAIDI/James Frederick MILLS, arranged by Bernard EBBINGHAUS

note: adopted 1932; new lyrics written after QABOOS bin Said al Said gained power in 1970; first performed by the band of a British ship as a salute to the Sultan during a 1932 visit to Muscat; the bandmaster of the HMS Hawkins was asked to write a salutation to the Sultan on the occasion of his ship visit

Economy

Economic overview

Oman is heavily dependent on oil and gas resources, which can generate between and 68% and 85% of government revenue, depending on fluctuations in commodity prices. In 2016, low global oil prices drove Oman’s budget deficit to $13.8 billion, or approximately 20% of GDP, but the budget deficit is estimated to have reduced to 12% of GDP in 2017 as Oman reduced government subsidies. As of January 2018, Oman has sufficient foreign assets to support its currency’s fixed exchange rates. It is issuing debt to cover its deficit.

Oman is using enhanced oil recovery techniques to boost production, but it has simultaneously pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector's contribution to GDP. The key components of the government's diversification strategy are tourism, shipping and logistics, mining, manufacturing, and aquaculture.

Muscat also has notably focused on creating more Omani jobs to employ the rising number of nationals entering the workforce. However, high social welfare benefits - that had increased in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring - have made it impossible for the government to balance its budget in light of current oil prices. In response, Omani officials imposed austerity measures on its gasoline and diesel subsidies in 2016. These spending cuts have had only a moderate effect on the government’s budget, which is projected to again face a deficit of $7.8 billion in 2018.

GDP real growth rate

-0.9% (2017 est.)

5% (2016 est.)

4.7% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 198

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.1% (2019 est.)

0.7% (2018 est.)

1.7% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 23

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: BB- (2020)

Moody's rating: Ba3 (2020)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2020)

GDP (purchasing power parity) - real

$190.1 billion (2017 est.)

$191.9 billion (2016 est.)

$182.8 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$76.883 billion (2019 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$46,000 (2017 est.)

$47,900 (2016 est.)

$48,400 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 35

Gross national saving

16.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

10.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

14.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 46.4% (2017 est.)

services: 51.8% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 36.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 26.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 27.8% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 3% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 51.5% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -46.6% (2017 est.)

Agriculture - products

dates, limes, bananas, alfalfa, vegetables; camels, cattle; fish

Industries

crude oil production and refining, natural and liquefied natural gas production; construction, cement, copper, steel, chemicals, optic fiber

Labor force

2.255 million (2016 est.)

note: about 60% of the labor force is non-national

country comparison to the world: 118

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 4.7% NA

industry: 49.6% NA

services: 45% NA (2016 est.)

Budget

revenues: 22.14 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 31.92 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

46.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

32.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: excludes indebtedness of state-owned enterprises

country comparison to the world: 113

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$10.76 billion (2017 est.)

-$12.32 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Exports

$103.3 billion (2017 est.)

$27.54 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Exports - partners

China 43.7%, UAE 11%, South Korea 7.9%, Saudi Arabia 4.2% (2017)

Exports - commodities

petroleum, reexports, fish, metals, textiles

Imports

$24.12 billion (2017 est.)

$21.29 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Imports - commodities

machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, livestock, lubricants

Imports - partners

UAE 35.5%, US 27.8%, Brazil 4% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$16.09 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$20.26 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

Debt - external

$46.27 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$27.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Exchange rates

Omani rials (OMR) per US dollar -

0.38505 (2020 est.)

0.38505 (2019 est.)

0.385 (2018 est.)

0.3845 (2014 est.)

0.3845 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 99% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 92% (2019)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 456,940

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12.82 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 99

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 4,926,899

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 138.23 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: modern system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations; coaxial cable; domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations; progressive mobile sector with both 3G and 4G LTE networks and reediness for 5G launch; competition among 3 (mobile network operators) MNO (2020)

domestic: fixed-line 13 per 100 and mobile-cellular 138 per 100, subscribership both increasing with fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems (2019)

international: country code - 968; landing points for GSA, AAE-1, SeaMeWe-5, Tata TGN-Gulf, FALCON, GBICS/MENA, MENA/Guld Bridge International, TW1, BBG, EIG, OMRAN/EPEG, and POI submarine cables providing connectivity to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

1 state-run TV broadcaster; TV stations transmitting from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, and Yemen available via satellite TV; state-run radio operates multiple stations; first private radio station began operating in 2007 and several additional stations now operating (2019)

Internet users

total: 2,801,932

percent of population: 80.19% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 102

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 422,035

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 57

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 10,438,241 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 510.43 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 13 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 7 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 119 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 2 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 51 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 33 (2013)

under 914 m: 26 (2013)

Heliports

3 (2013)

Pipelines

106 km condensate, 4224 km gas, 3558 km oil, 33 km oil/gas/water, 264 km refined products (2013)

Roadways

total: 60,230 km (2012)

paved: 29,685 km (includes 1,943 km of expressways) (2012)

unpaved: 30,545 km (2012)

country comparison to the world: 75

Merchant marine

total: 51

by type: general cargo 10, other 41 (2019)

country comparison to the world: 117

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Mina' Qabus, Salalah, Suhar

container port(s) (TEUs): Salalah (3,946,421) (2017)

LNG terminal(s) (export): Qalhat

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF): Royal Army of Oman (RAO), Royal Navy of Oman (RNO), Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), Royal Guard of Oman (RGO); Royal Oman Police Coast Guard; Tribal Home Guard (2020)

Military expenditures

8.8% of GDP (2019)

8.2% of GDP (2018)

9.6% of GDP (2017)

12% of GDP (2016)

10.9% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 1

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) have approximately 40,000 total active troops (25,000 Army, 4,200 Navy; 4,500 Air Force; 6,400 Royal Guard); 400 Coast Guard; 4,000 Tribal Home Guard (2019 )

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SAF's inventory includes mostly a mix of older and some more modern British and US weapons systems, with smaller quantities of equipment from South Africa and a variety of European countries; since 2010, the UK and the US are the leading suppliers of armaments to Oman (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation

18-30 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)

Maritime threats

the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 7 August 2019, which states in part that "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping...there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;" at present, Iran has seized two foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf; the US and UK navies have established Operation Sentinel to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

boundary agreement reportedly signed and ratified with UAE in 2003 for entire border, including Oman's Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah exclave, but details of the alignment have not been made public

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,000 (Yemen) (2017)