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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

المملكة العربية السعودية
al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabīyah as-Su‘ūdīyah
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Emblem
Motto: "لا إله إلا الله, محمد رسول الله "
"There is no god but Allah: Muhammad is the Messenger of God." (Shahada)
Anthem: "as-Salām al-Malakiyy"
"Long live the King"
Location of Saudi Arabia
Capital
and largest city
Riyadh
Official languages Arabic
Demonym(s) Saudi Arabian, Saudi (informal)
Government Unitary Islamic
absolute monarchy
• King
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Nayef bin Abdul Aziz
Legislature None - legislation by king's decree.
Establishment
23 September 1932
Area
• Total
2,250,000 km2 (870,000 sq mi) (12th)
• Water (%)
0.7
Population
• 2010 estimate
27,136,977 (46th)
• Density
12/km2 (31.1/sq mi) (216th)
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
• Total
$677.663 billion
• Per capita
$24,056.715
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
• Total
$560.294 billion
• Per capita
$19,890.183
HDI (2011) Increase 0.770
high · 56th
Currency Saudi riyal (SR) (SAR)
Time zone UTC+3 (AST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 ((not observed))
Driving side right
Calling code +966
ISO 3166 code SA
Internet TLD .sa, السعودية.

Saudi Arabia is an Arab state in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the 5th-largest state in Asia and 2nd-largest state in the Arab world after Algeria. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast, and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid inhospitable desert or barren landforms.

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Arabs and Islam and sometimes called "the Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam. Arabic is the exclusive official language in Saudi Arabia.

Sunni Islam is the state religion. Even though the government does not forbid practicing any religion in private, the practice of non-Islamic religions in public is forbidden. The Hanbali school of faith has a big influence. . The ultra-conservative Wahhabism religious movement within Sunni Islam has been called "the predominant feature of Saudi culture", with its global spreading largely financed by the oil and gas trade. Saudi Arabia is sometimes called "the Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.

Saudi Arabia is the largest state in western Asia by land area (most of the Arabian Peninsula) and the second-largest in the Arab World. It has an estimated population of 27 million, of which 8.8 million are registered foreign expatriates and an estimated 1.5 million are illegal immigrants. Saudi nationals comprise an estimated 16 million people.

Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world's second largest oil producer (behind the US) and the world's largest oil exporter, controlling the world's second largest oil reserves and the sixth largest gas reserves

Saudi Arabia has cities that are important to the Muslim religion. Many Muslims from around the world visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia to make a pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is one of the "pillars of Islam". Other big cities are Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The pilgrimage is called hajj in the Arabic language. Somebody who makes a pilgrimage to Mecca is called a hajj in the Arabic language. People who are not Muslim are not allowed to enter Mecca.

Most people speak the Arabic language. Many people from other countries work in Saudi Arabia. They are called guest workers or expats.

The money, or currency is called the Saudi Riyal.

History

Jubail Church
Jubail Church is a 4th-century church building near Jubail, Eastern Province, discovered in 1986. It originally belonged to the Church of the East, an ancient Nestorian branch of Eastern Christianity in the Middle East. It is one of the oldest churches in the world.

The area of modern-day Saudi Arabia formerly consisted of four distinct regions: Hejaz, Najd, and parts of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa) andSouthern Arabia ('Asir).[10] The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. He united the four regions into a single state through a series of conquests beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. The country has since been an absolute monarchy, governed along Islamic lines.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932. The conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. The Saudi Arabian government, which is an absolute monarchy, refers to its system of government as being Islamic. It has a strong basis in Wahhabism, a minority school of thought in Islam. The kingdom is sometimes called "The Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.

Politics

Salman bin Abdull aziz December 9, 2013.jpg Mohammed Bin Salman al-Saud2.jpg
Salman Al Saud
King and
Prime Minister
Mohammad bin Salman
Crown Prince

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. The king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. The Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are said to be the country's constitution. No political parties or national elections are permitted.

Saudi Arabia joined the United Nations in 1945 It is a founder member of the Arab League. In 2005 they joined the World Trade Organization.

Women

Young Saudi Arabian woman in Abha
A woman wearing a niqāb. Under Saudi law, women are required to wear Hijab but niqab is optional.

On 25 September 2011, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said that women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections. They can also join the advisory Shura council as full members.

Saudi Arabia is known for its lack of rights for women. It is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. It is the only country in the world to have this law. Until 2013 women were not allowed to ride bicycles. All women must have a man who protects them under the law (a guardian). They can not work, go to school, open a bank account, or get health treatment unless their guardian lets them. Only 17% of workers are women. Women must wear abaya in public. These are cloaks that cover the body, hair, and face. They are usually black. Men are allowed to have up to four wives but women are not allowed more than one husband.

Geography

Saudi Arabia Topography
Saudi Arabia topography
Saudi Arabia's Köppen climate classification map is based on native vegetation, temperature, precipitation and their seasonality.      BWh Hot desert      BWk Cold desert      BSh Hot semi-arid      BSk Cold semi-arid

Saudi Arabia occupies about 80 percent of the Arabian Peninsula (the world's largest peninsula), lying between latitudes 16° and 33° N, and longitudes 34° and 56° E. Because the country's southern borders with the United Arab Emirates and Oman are not precisely marked, the exact size of the country is undefined. The CIA World Factbook estimates 2,149,690 km2 (830,000 sq mi) and lists Saudi Arabia as the world's 13th largest state. It is geographically the largest country in the Arabian Plate.

Saudi Arabia's geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert, associated semi-desert and shrubland (see satellite image) and several mountain ranges and highlands. It is, in fact, a number of linked deserts and includes the 647,500 km2 (250,001 sq mi) Rub' al Khali ("Empty Quarter") in the southeastern part of the country, the world's largest contiguous sand desert. Though there are a few lakes in the country, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world by area with no permanent rivers. Wadis, however, are very numerous. The fertile areas are to be found in the alluvial deposits in wadis, basins, and oases. The main topographical feature is the central plateau which rises abruptly from the Red Sea and gradually descends into the Nejd and toward the Persian Gulf. On the Red Sea coast, there is a narrow coastal plain, known as the Tihamah parallel to which runs an imposing escarpment. The southwest province of Asir is mountainous, and contains the 3,133 m (10,279 ft) Mount Sawda, which is the highest point in the country.

Except for the southwestern province of Asir, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with very high day-time temperatures and a sharp temperature drop at night. Average summer temperatures are around 113 °F (45 °C), but can be as high as 129 °F (54 °C). In the winter the temperature rarely drops below 32 °F (0 °C). In the spring and autumn the heat is temperate, temperatures average around 84 °F (29 °C). Annual rainfall is extremely low. The Asir region differs in that it is influenced by the Indian Ocean monsoons, usually occurring between October and March. An average of 300 mm (12 in) of rainfall occurs during this period, which is about 60 percent of the annual precipitation.

Fauna

The Arabian oryx are found in the deserts and are endangered animals
The Arabian horse is native to Arabia, and an important element of traditional Arabian folklore
The highly endangered Arabian leopard
Red Sea coral and marine fish

Wildlife includes the Arabian leopard, wolf, striped hyena, mongoose, baboon, hare, sand cat, and jerboa. Animals such as gazelles, oryx, leopards and cheetahs were relatively numerous until the 19th century, when extensive hunting reduced these animals almost to extinction. Birds include falcons (which are caught and trained for hunting), eagles, hawks, vultures, sandgrouse, and bulbuls. There are several species of snakes, many of which are venomous. Saudi Arabia is home to a rich marine life. The Red Sea in particular is a rich and diverse ecosystem. More than 1200 species of fish have been recorded in the Red Sea, and around 10 percent of these are found nowhere else. This also includes 42 species of deepwater fish.

The rich diversity is in part due to the 2,000 km (1,240 mi) of coral reef extending along its coastline; these fringing reefs are 5000–7000 years old and are largely formed of stony acropora and porites corals. The reefs form platforms and sometimes lagoons along the coast and occasional other features such as cylinders (such as the Blue Hole (Red Sea) at Dahab). These coastal reefs are also visited by pelagic species of Red Sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark. The Red Sea also contains many offshore reefs including several true atolls. Many of the unusual offshore reef formations defy classic (i.e., Darwinian) coral reef classification schemes, and are generally attributed to the high levels of tectonic activity that characterize the area. Domesticated animals include the legendary Arabian horse, Arabian camel, sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, chickens etc. Reflecting the country's dominant desert conditions, Saudi Arabia's plant life mostly consists of herbs, plants and shrubs that require little water. The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is widespread

Economy

KAFD seen from North east side of Riyadh City
King Abdullah Financial Center is one of the largest investment centers in the Middle East, located in Riyadh
AramcoCoreArea
Office of Saudi Aramco, the world's most valuable company and the main source of revenue for the state

Saudi Arabia has the world's second-largest proven petroleum reserves and the country is the largest exporter of petroleum. It also has the fifth-largest proven natural gas reserves. Saudi Arabia is considered an "energy superpower". It has the third highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$34.4 trillion in 2016. Saudi Arabia's command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 63% of budget revenues and 67% of export earnings come from the oil industry. It is strongly dependent on foreign workers with about 80% of those employed in the private sector being non-Saudi.

Saudi Arabia Export Treemap
Graphical depiction of Saudi Arabia's product exports

In addition to petroleum and gas, Saudi also has a significant gold mining sector in the ancient Mahd adh Dhahab region and significant other mineral industries, an agricultural sector (especially in the southwest but not only) based on vegetables, fruits, dates etc. and livestock, and large number of temporary jobs created by the roughly two million annual hajj pilgrims.

Agriculture

Jabal Al Qara Cave - Al Hassa, Saudi Arabia ജബൽ അൽ ഖാറ ഗുഹ, അൽ ഹസ, സൗദി അറേബ്യ 13
Al-Hasa is known for its palm trees and dates. Al-Hasa has over 30 million palm trees which produce over 100 thousand tons of dates every year.

Serious large-scale agricultural development began in the 1970s. The government launched an extensive program to promote modern farming technology; to establish rural roads, irrigation networks and storage and export facilities; and to encourage agricultural research and training institutions. As a result, there has been a phenomenal growth in the production of all basic foods. Saudi Arabia is now completely self-sufficient in a number of foodstuffs, including meat, milk and eggs. The country exports wheat, dates, dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets around the world. Dates, once a staple of the Saudi diet, are now mainly grown for global humanitarian aid. In addition, Saudi farmers grow substantial amounts of other grains such as barley, sorghum and millet. As of 2016, in the interest of preserving precious water resources, domestic production of wheat has ended.

The Kingdom likewise has some of the most modern and largest dairy farms in the Middle East. Milk production boasts a remarkably productive annual rate of 1,800 gallons per cow, one of the highest in the world. The local dairy manufacturing company Almarai is the largest vertically integrated dairy company in the Middle East.

By 1984, it had become self-sufficient in wheat. Shortly thereafter, Saudi Arabia began exporting wheat to some 30 countries, including China and the former Soviet Union, and in the major producing areas of Tabuk, Hail and Qasim, average yields reached 3.6 tons per acre.

The Kingdom has, however, stepped up fruit and vegetable production, by improving both agricultural techniques and the roads that link farmers with urban consumers. Saudi Arabia is a major exporter of fruits and vegetables to its neighbors. Among its most productive crops are watermelon, grapes, citrus fruits, onions, squash and tomatoes. At Jizan in the country's well-watered southwest, the Al-Hikmah Research Station is producing tropical fruits including pineapples, paw-paws, bananas, mangoes and guavas.

The olive tree is indigenous to Saudi Arabia. In 2018 the Al Jouf Agricultural Development Company received a certificate of merit from The Guinness World Records for the largest modern olive plantation in the world. The farm covers 7730 hectares and has 5 million olive trees. The Guinness World Records also took into consideration their production capacity of 15000 tonnes of high quality of olive oil, while the kingdom consumes double that. The Al Jouf farms are located in Sakaka, a city in the north-western part of Saudi Arabia, which is a deeply-rooted in history. Sakaka dates back more than 4,000 years. The Al Jouf region has millions of olive trees and the expected number is expected to go up to 20 million trees soon.

Consuming non-renewable groundwater resulted in the loss of an estimated four fifths of the total groundwater reserves by 2012.

Tourism

Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. According to the World Bank, approximately 14.3 million people visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, making it the world's 19th-most-visited country. Tourism is an important component of the Saudi Vision 2030 and according to a report conducted by BMI Research in 2018, both religious and non-religious tourism have significant potential for expansion.

Starting December 2018, the kingdom will offer an electronic visa for foreign visitors to attend sport events and concerts. The “sharek” visa process will start with 15 December, Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix race.

In September 2019, the Kingdom announced its plans to open visa applications for visitors, where people from about 50 countries would be able to get tourist visas to Saudi.

Provinces

Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces. The provinces are divided into 118 governorates.

No. Region Capital
Saudi Arabia, administrative divisions - Nmbrs - colored
Provinces of Saudi Arabia
1 Al Jawf (or Jouf) Sakaka
2 Northern Borders Arar
3 Tabuk Tabuk
4 Ha'il Ha'il
5 Al Madinah Medina
6 Al Qasim Buraidah
7 Makkah Mecca
8 Al Riyadh Riyadh
9 Eastern Province Dammam
10 Al Bahah (or Baha) Al Bahah
11 Asir Abha
12 Jizan Jizan
13 Najran Najran

Cities

These are the largest cities in Saudi Arabia.

Largest cities by population
(2007)

mill.
Riyadh city.jpg Jeddah Seafront.jpg The Holy Mosque in Mecca.jpg
Riyadh 8.7
Jeddah 4.6
Mecca 1.7
Medina 1.3 Riyadh Jeddah Mecca
Dammam 2.5 Modern Medina.JPG Housing Dammam.jpg Abha from Abha Palace Hotel.JPG
Ta'if 0.7
Buraydah 0.6
Tabuk 0.5
Abha 0.4
Khamis Mushait 0.4 Medina Dammam Abha

Images for kids


Saudi Arabia Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.