Kuwait is a sovereign Arab nation situated on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. It shares its borders with Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Kuwait is officially known as the State of Kuwait. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and is classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank owing to its rich oil reserves. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic word "akwat" (which is the plural of "kout"), which means ‘fortress built near water’. The low-lying desert land of Kuwait is sandy and barren. The capital of Kuwait is Kuwait city and the official languages spoken here is Arabic. However, the high number of immigrants from various Asian countries especially India, have made Kuwait culturally diverse. English thus is used as a common language for communication.
Studies reveal that Kuwait could have been part of an early civilization in the 3rd millennium B.C. It was a transitory trade link between the Indus River Valley and Mesopotamian civilizations. The city of Kuwait was founded in the beginning of the 18th century by the Anizah tribe of central Arabia. Kuwait essentially served as a transitory home for the Arabic nomads. Around 1710 the Sabahs, an Arabian nomadic community settled in what is now Kuwait city. They were followed by the Utab clan who came from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait. With time, Kuwait became an important trading post with major industries like boat building and the excavation and cultivation of pearls. By 1756, Kuwait became an autonomous sheikdom with the emergence of the royal Al-Sabah family and the crowning of Abd Rahim as its first Sheik. To this day, the Al-Sabah family continues to rule Kuwait. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the sheikdom was threatened by the Ottoman Empire and to save Kuwait from the Turks, the Sheik requested British protection. Thus Kuwait was a British protectorate from 1897 till 1961 when Kuwait was given independence by Britain, with an offer to provide military aid if necessary. Meanwhile around 1930, oil and natural gas reserves were discovered in Kuwait and they accounted for almost 20% of the world’s oil resources. The revenues from the oil exports made the Al-Sabah kingdom richer by the day. These profits were used by the Sheik to turnaround Kuwait into a modern haven with all luxuries and provision of amenities to its citizens. While this was the case, the year 1990 brought in an economic downfall and the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein blamed Kuwait for the rise in oil prices. Iraq claimed that Kuwait could not keep up with the worldwide demand of crude and hence resulted in rise of oil prices. The Arab League tried in all ways to dissuade them but did not succeed. While all this was happening, Kuwait became free from the British protectorate and this unrecognized independent status came to haunt as an invasion threat in the form of Iraq. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and ransacked their oil reserves, the infrastructure and there was immense bloodshed. As promised, the British troops arrived in time to fight and save Kuwait and were later joined in by the forces of the Arab League. After the Arab League recognized Kuwait’s independent status in 1961, Iraqi forces withdrew from Kuwait in just a matter of four days. However, the next few years proved very crucial too as the U.S and British forces continued to patrol on Kuwaiti soil and its borders as they feared Iraqi regression. This has been mentioned as the Gulf War in history. The Gulf War was a black mark for the environment in the sense that the oil wells that were set on fire by Iraq sent out thick slick of oil into the Arabian Sea and all across the peninsula causing havoc for many years to come. The environmental pollution due to smoke and the alarmingly high number of people who fled Kuwait in this war, is something that the world will remember forever. Kuwait has always followed a neutral and mediatory policy among Arab states all through history.
The oil industry serves as the backbone of the Kuwaiti economy. The Gulf War resulted in major destruction of its oil resources but this has not stopped Kuwait from establishing itself as an oil-rich nation after the War. Kuwait also joined the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to self-guard its resources and future threats from other nations. History has it that Kuwait had been a transient trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus river valley. Kuwait exports oil, refined products and fertilizers to countries like Japan, India, USA, South Korea and Singapore. Since agriculture is not much prevalent in this sandy and barren low-lying land, Kuwait imports food, construction materials, vehicles, automobile parts and clothing from USA, Japan, UK , Germany, and Italy. The immigrant community in Kuwait forms a crucial part of their labor force. Almost 1.3 million people work in Kuwait in its government and social services, businesses and agriculture. Jobs are assigned based on ethnicity and it is little surprise that Kuwaitis hold most of the government jobs apart from some of them managing their businesses in the private sector. The non-Kuwaitis are hired to work in various businesses and in the oil industry.
The society in Kuwait is classified into five different strata based on wealth namely (1) the Ruling family, (2) the Kuwaiti merchants, (3) the nomadic tribes, (4) Arabs who settled from other countries and (5) foreigners who have settled in Kuwait. The ethnic Kuwaitis struggle to maintain their identity and cultural dominance in an increasingly complex society. Islam is the dominant religion in Kuwait and the political and social scenario tends to be influenced by Islamic laws and ancient traditions. However, the multicultural population in Kuwait today begs to differ and prefers to adjust to the modern day. Women are given a lot of opportunities to work along with men and prove their equality. Throughout Kuwait, one can find a contrasting trend in the religious values and sentiments between generations. While the older generation prefers to stick to fundamental Islamic rules, one can find younger generation aping the west and being liberal. The government of Kuwait invests its profits in providing the best amenities to its citizens. This includes free schooling to children and scholarships for higher education. The technical institutes and colleges that are set up in Kuwait are in accordance with the type of industries that are flourishing in Kuwait. The medical facilities provided to the Kuwaitis are also free and world-class. The other religions followed here are Christianity, Hinduism, Parsi etc. The national day of Kuwait is celebrated on 25th February. Kuwait like other Arab nations strictly adheres to the Islamic laws concerning food. Although there is no formal dress code, one can find older generation wearing a robe known as the dish dasha while the women wear the abaya. Islamic architecture is the inspiration for many buildings, mosques and other architectural wonders in Kuwait. The most famous landmarks in Kuwait, the Kuwait Towers and the National Assembly of Kuwait are live examples of how Islamic minaret designs could be blended with modern aesthetics. A prominent style of Kuwaiti music is known as the Sawt with various string instruments and drums. The Bedouins are famous for their instrument known as the rubabah.
The Kuwaiti Dinar is the currency used in Kuwait and is the highest valued currency in the world. One Kuwaiti Dinar is divided into 1000 fils.
Kuwait consists of extensive and modern roadways and highways. The number of automobiles plying on the roads is very high since there is no rail system in Kuwait. There is a dedicated bus service throughout the city. The Kuwait International airport serves as a major hub for international air traffic. Kuwait Airways is the national carrier of Kuwait and other private airlines are Jazeera Airways and Wataniya Airways. Apart from this, there are several commercial seaports in Kuwait namely the Shuwaikh and Shuaiba. The largest and most famous port which handles the highest oil exports of Kuwait is the Mina-al-Ahmadi port
The flag of Kuwait is based on the Arab revolt flag of World War I. The flag has three horizontal and equal stripes of green, white and red color with a black trapezoid at the hoist side. The color green represents the lands, white represents peace in Kuwait, red signifies blood on the swords and black represents their battles and defeat of their enemies.