Kuwait is a small yet prosperous country located in the Middle East that many people don’t know much about. With only 17,000 square kilometers of land area, Kuwait has a population of around 4.5 million people. A significant portion of Kuwait is covered by the vast Arabian Desert. From above, Kuwait lies on the coast of the Persian Gulf in the northeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. Flights to Kuwait are available from airports worldwide, generally landing in Kuwait City.
Geography and Climate
Situated on relatively flat terrain, Kuwait has a hot desert climate typical of the Arabian Peninsula. Summers see scorching temperatures exceeding 50°C (122°F), leading many people to spend their free time in air-conditioned malls or markets. Kuwait has a modest 168 kilometers of coastline along the Persian Gulf. The country lacks surface water sources and relies on desalination plants to supply its freshwater needs.
Culture and Society
Around 99% of Kuwait’s population practices Sunni Islam. The country follows conservative Islamic principles. Men can have multiple wives, while women are expected to dress modestly, covering their legs and arms. However, women are not required to wear a headscarf. Consuming alcohol is prohibited. Having any Israeli stamps or traces of pork/alcohol can prevent foreigners from entering Kuwait.
History and Politics
Kuwait was part of the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s but secured independence in 1899 under British protection. It later became a British protectorate and only gained full sovereignty in 1961. Today, Kuwait has a constitutional monarchy with an emir as head of state and a prime minister as head of government.
Economy and Currency
Despite its small size, Kuwait has immense wealth, primarily from oil. Kuwait possesses 9% of global oil reserves. As a result, it has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. The Kuwaiti Dinar is a highly valued currency, worth over 3 times the US Dollar. Everything in Kuwait is expensive for foreigners given the strong Dinar.
Top Attractions and Activities
- Kuwait Towers – Iconic water towers built in the 1970s as a heritage site. Damaged in the Gulf War but later restored.
- Grand Mosque – Massive mosque in Kuwait City holding over 10,000 worshippers. Its dome and minarets are intricately decorated.
- Al Shaheed Park – Large urban park with a memorial honoring Kuwaitis killed in the Gulf War. It has gardens, lakes, and museums.
- Scientific Center – Educational center with an aquarium, museum, planetarium, and IMAX theater. Great for families.
- Failaka Island – Small Kuwaiti island near the mainland. It has ancient sites like a Hellenistic fort and Christian church ruins.
- House of Mirrors – White villa covered in mirrored glass. Originally the home of a Kuwaiti princess. Visitors can tour the eccentric house.
- Liberation Tower – Telecommunications tower with an observation deck offering panoramic city views. At 372 meters, it’s one of the world’s tallest towers.
- Fish Markets – Lively fish and food markets where you can shop for produce and local catches. Popular spots include the Sharq Fish Market and Al Boom Market.
- Camel Racing – Popular sport in Kuwait. Races are held at tracks like Al-Hasa and Al-Khiran. Watch jockeys guide camels to sprint down dirt courses.
Unique Projects and Landscapes
In the 2000s, Kuwait undertook a massive project to bring the sea inland using artificial canals. This allowed the creation of beachfront property for wealthy citizens inland from the coast. The intricate canal network resembles Dubai’s Palm Islands. While extravagant, this artificial seascape faces issues like tidal flooding. Still, it demonstrates the engineering feats Kuwait can accomplish given its oil wealth.
So in summary, Kuwait is an intriguing country – small in size yet massive in riches. Its oil wealth fuels a prosperous society and grand development projects. With lavish malls, iconic monuments, camel racing, and engineered landscapes, Kuwait offers unique glimpses into a wealthy Arab nation.