General Country Information

The state of Kuwait was the first of the Gulf states to achieve independence in 1961. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy and it was the first Arab country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament. In May 2005 parliament gave women the right to vote and stand as candidates in elections. The chief of state is the Emir, currently Sheikh Sabah who succeeded Sheikh Saad, who ruled for just nine days after Sheikh Jaber, who had ruled the country for more than 25 years, died on 15 January 2006. Kuwait’s independence was challenged by Iraq which claimed that Kuwait was an integral part of Iraqi territory. In 1990 Iraq invaded the country. After six weeks of fighting an American-led coalition forced Iraq to withdraw its troops from Kuwait on February 26, 1991. But Kuwait's infrastructure was left in bad shape and had to be rebuilt.

According to 2007 estimates Kuwait has a population of about 2,5 million in total, including almost 1,3 million foreign residents. Kuwaitis are predominantly Muslim, of which 65% are Sunni Muslims, and 35% being Shiite. Due to a strong educational system Kuwait boasts a literacy rate of 93.3%.

More general information is available at BBC Country Profile and at Wikipedia in both English and Arabic.

Official information can be found at the Kuwaiti Emiri Diwan in Arabic, English, and French.