20 Fascinating Facts About Kuwait
1. Kuwait is a tiny country in the Middle East and Asia bordering Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran.
2. Kuwait is the third-richest country in the Middle East when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). It is the 21st richest country in the world.
3. Evidence of the first settlement in Kuwait dates from 4500 BC.
4. In 2001, archaeologists believe they discovered the remains of the world’s oldest ocean-going boat in Kuwait. The bitumen pieces indented with reeds and barnacles date from around 5000 BC.
5. Ancient Greece once colonized the Kuwaiti island of Failaki, then named Ikaros, between 2000 and 1000 BC. It became an important trading post on the route from Mesopotamia to India.
6. During the 1600s Kuwait became part of the Ottoman Empire and during the 1700s settlers arrived at the site of present-day Kuwait City transforming it into a trading hub during the 1800s.
7. In 1899, Kuwait became a British protectorate with Britain providing naval protection in return for Kuwait allowing London to control its foreign affairs.
8. Kuwait has been ruled by the Al-Sabah dynasty since 1756 and continues to retain absolute power.
9. In 1961 Kuwait gained complete independence with the British protectorate formally withdrawn.
10. In 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait accusing the country of stealing its oil from a field near the border. In 1991, a US-led and UN-backed bombing military campaign liberated Kuwait in what became known as the Gulf War or the Persian Gulf War.
11. In 2003, American forces invaded Iraq from Kuwait in the Second Iraq War which led to the ousting of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
12. Kuwait is building the world’s tallest skyscraper. The proposed 1,001m (3,284ft) Burj Mubarak al-Kabir is expected to be completed in 2030. Its height is a reference to the classic collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
13. Kuwait is the world’s 11th most obese country. It is the highest-ranked non-Pacific island nation with 73.4% of its population classified as obese.
14. Kuwait has the world’s sixth-largest proven oil reserves with 102 billion barrels in 2020.
15. As of 2020, Kuwait is the eighth richest country per capita when measured by GDP (PPP) per capita.
16. Around 70% of Kuwait’s population are ex-pats with around 3.4 million foreigners living in the country. However, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah recently announced he intends to reduce the ex-pat population to 30% of the population.
17. The name Kuwait derives from the Arabic “al-Kuwayt” meaning “fortress,” perhaps a reference to a castle built in the current location of Kuwait City by the Beni Khaled tribe in the 17th century.
18. The Kuwaiti flag is horizontally striped green-white-red with a black truncated triangle. The colors are associated with a poem written in the 13th century by Ṣafī ad-Dīn al-Ḥilli. He spoke of the green fields of the Arabs, the black battles they face, the white purity of their deeds, and the red blood on their swords.
19. Kuwait was the first Arab country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament. In 1963, following independence in 1961, elections were held for the National Assembly.
20. However, women were not allowed to vote in Kuwait until 2006 when they took part in elections for the first time after a long fight for suffrage.