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Countries > Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Flag

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Capital: Riyadh
Population: 20,100,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Saudi Arabia Map


Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 45 00 E

Map references: Middle East

total: 1,960,582 sq km
land: 1,960,582 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Land boundaries:
total: 4,415 km
border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 728 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km

Coastline: 2,640 km

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea : 12 nm

Climate: harsh, dry desert with great extremes of temperature

Terrain: mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures : 56%
forests and woodland: 1%
other: 41% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 16,200 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: frequent sand and dust storms

Environment - current issues: desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note: extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal


Population: 23,513,330
note : includes 5,360,526 non-nationals (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.4% (male 5,086,541; female 4,883,942)
15-64 years: 54.8% (male 7,493,304; female 5,396,985)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 362,780; female 289,778) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.27% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 37.25 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 5.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: 1.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth : 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.39 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.25 male(s)/female
total population: 1.22 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 49.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.4 years
male: 66.7 years
female: 70.2 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.21 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun : Saudi(s)
adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian

Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religions: Muslim 100%

Languages: Arabic

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78%
male: 84.2%
female: 69.5% (2002 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

Data code: SA

Government type: monarchy

National capital: Riyadh

Administrative divisions: 13 provinces (mintaqah, singular - mintaqat); Al Bahah, Al Hudud Ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Hail, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk

Independence: 23 September 1932 (unification)

National holiday: Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)

Constitution: none; governed according to Shari'a (Islamic law)

Legal system: based on Islamic law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: none

Executive branch:
chief of state: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: King and Prime Minister FAHD bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 13 June 1982); Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (half-brother to the monarch, heir to the throne since 13 June 1982, regent from 1 January to 22 February 1996); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the king and includes many royal family members
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary

Legislative branch: a consultative council (90 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms)

Judicial branch: Supreme Council of Justice

Political parties and leaders: none allowed

International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AL, AMF, BIS (pending member), CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador BANDAR bin Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud
chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
consulate(s) general : Houston, Los Angeles, and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert W. JORDAN (since 3 October 2001)
embassy : Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
mailing address: American Embassy-Riyadh, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
telephone: [966] (1) 488-3800
FAX : [966] (1) 488-7360
consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)

Flag description: green with large white Arabic script (that may be translated as There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God) above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); green is the traditional color of Islam


Economy - overview: This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved reserves), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 25% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Riyadh expects to have a budget deficit in 2002, in part because of increased spending for education and other social programs. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $241 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.6% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $10,600 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture : 7%
industry: 48%
services: 45% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 1.7% (2001)

Labor force: 7 million
note: 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 12%, industry 25%, services 63% (1999 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues : $42 billion
expenditures: $54 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)

Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, cement, two small steel-rolling mills, construction, fertilizer, plastics

Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 20.9 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 123.5 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 114.855 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

total value: $66.9 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%
partners: US 21.1%, Japan 9.4%, Germany 7.4%, UK 7.3% (2000)

total value : $29.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
partners: US 21.1%, Japan 9.4%, Germany 7.4%, UK 7.3% (2000)

Debt - external: $23.8 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid:
donor:pledged $100 million in 1993 to fund reconstruction of Lebanon; since 1993, Saudi Arabia has committed $208 million for assistance to the Palestinians; pledged $240 million to development in Afghanistan

Currency: 1 Saudi riyal (SAR) = 100 halalah

Exchange rates: (SAR)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 3.1 million (1998)

Telephone system: modern system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay and coaxial and fiber-optic cable systems
international: microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; submarine cable to Djibouti, Egypt and Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios: 6.25 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 117 (1997)

Televisions: 5.1 million (1997)


total: 1,392 km
standard gauge:1,392 km 1.435-m gauge (724 km are double-tracked) (2001)

total: 146,524 km
paved:44,104 km
unpaved: 102,420 km (1997 est.)

Pipelines: crude oil 6,400 km; petroleum products 150 km; natural gas 2,200 km (includes natural gas liquids 1,600 km)

Ports and harbors: Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Duba, Jiddah, Jizan, Rabigh, Ra's al Khafji, Al Mishab, Ras Tanura, Yanbu' al Bahr, Yanbu' al Sinaiyah

Merchant marine:
total : 71 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,071,315 GRT/1,412,125 DWT
ships by type: cargo 11, chemical tanker 10, container 4, livestock carrier 3, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 11, short-sea passenger 8

Airports: 209 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 71
over 3,047 m: 31
2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m:23
914 to 1,523 m : 3
under 914 m: 2 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 138
2,438 to 3,047 m:5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 79
914 to 1,523 m : 39
under 914 m: 15 (2001)

Heliports: 5 (2001)


Military branches: Land Force (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, Frontier Forces, Public Security Force, Ministry of Interior Forces

Military manpower - military age: 17 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 6,007,635 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 3,359,849 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males : 233,402 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $18.3 billion (FY00)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 13% (FY00)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:demarcation of delimited boundary with Yemen involves nomadic tribal affiliations; because details of 1974 and 1977 treaties have not been made public, the exact location of the Saudi Arabia-UAE boundary is unknown and status is considered de facto

Illicit drugs: death penalty for traffickers; increasing consumption of heroin and cocaine