Kuwait ( (listen); Arabic: الكويت al-Kuwayt, Gulf Arabic pronunciation: [ɪl‿ɪkweːt] or [lɪkweːt]), officially the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwayt), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. Kuwait has a coastal length of approximately 499 km (310 mi). As of 2021, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people where 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are foreign nationals. Most of the country's population reside in the urban agglomeration of the capital city Kuwait City.
Historically, Kuwait was a highly strategic trade port between Mesopotamia and India. Oil reserves were discovered in commercial quantities in 1938. In 1946, crude oil was exported for the first time. From 1946 to 1982, the country underwent large-scale modernization. In the 1980s, Kuwait experienced a period of geopolitical instability and an economic crisis following the stock market crash. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded, and later annexed, by Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait came to an end in 1991 after military intervention by a military coalition led by the United States. Kuwait is a major ally of China, a regional ally of ASEAN, and a major non-NATO ally.
Kuwait is an emirate with an autocratic political system. The Emir is the head of state and the Al Sabah is the ruling family which dominates the country's political system. Kuwait's official state religion is Maliki Sunni Islam. Kuwait has a high-income economy backed by the world's sixth largest oil reserves. Kuwait also has substantial natural gas reserves. The Kuwaiti dinar is the highest valued currency in the world. Kuwait is the fifth richest country in the world by gross national income per capita. In 2009, Kuwait had the highest Human Development Index in the Arab world. According to the Social Progress Index, Kuwait ranks first in social progress in the Arab world and Muslim world and second highest in the Middle East after Israel. Kuwait also ranks among the world's top countries by life expectancy, women's workforce participation, global food security, and school order and safety. Kuwait is considered a rentier state with cradle-to-grave welfare benefits to citizens. Human rights abuses in Kuwait are common, Kuwait has the largest number of stateless people in the entire region.
Since the mid-to-late 2010s, Kuwait has commenced a national development plan, Kuwait Vision 2035, to diversify the economy. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, Kuwait and China have many important cooperation projects including Al Mutlaa City and Mubarak Al Kabeer Port. The new Kuwait National Cultural District (KNCD) is a member of the Global Cultural Districts Network, Kuwait is home to the largest opera house in the Middle East, the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre. Kuwaiti popular culture (in the form of theatre, radio, music, and television soap opera) flourishes and is often exported to neighboring countries in the region.
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