Armed Forces: In 1993 personnel strength 13,700:
army, 9,000 plus 1,000 general staff; navy, 1,200 (including coast
guard); and air force, 2,500. Matériel of all services largely
destroyed or captured in Persian Gulf War; being renewed by large-scale
foreign arms purchases in 1992-93.
Kuwait -- GEOGRAPHY
KUWAIT CAPTURED THE WORLD'S ATTENTION on August 2, 1990, when
Iraqi forces invaded and occupied the country, catalyzing a series
of events that culminated in military intervention and ultimate
victory by United States-led coalition forces in February 1991.
In 1993 it appeared that the invasion and its aftermath would
have a lasting effect on the people, the economy, and the politics
Once a small gulf shaykhdom known locally as a center for pearl
diving and boat construction, Kuwait came to international prominence
in the post-World War II era largely because of its enormous oil
revenues. Yet its history as an autonomous political entity is
much older, dating back to the eighteenth century. At that time,
the town of Kuwait was settled by migrants from central Arabia
who arrived at what was then a lightly populated fishing village
under the suzerainty of the Bani Khalid tribe of Arabia. Members
of one family, the Al Sabah, have ruled Kuwait from that time.
Since 1977 Kuwait has been ruled by Shaykh Jabir al Ahmad al
Jabir Al Sabah and his designated successor, Shaykh Saad al Abd
Allah as Salim Al Sabah, the prime minister and crown prince.
In the postwar period, these men have supported, with some ambivalence,
the strengthening of popular participation in decision making
as provided for in the constitution.
Kuwait is located at the far northwestern corner of the Persian
Gulf, known locally as the Arabian Gulf . It is a small state
of about 17,818 square kilometers, a little smaller than the state
of New Jersey. At its most distant points, it is about 200 kilometers
north to south and 170 kilometers east to west.
Shaped roughly like a triangle, Kuwait borders the gulf to the
east, with 195 kilometers of coast. Kuwait includes within its
territory nine gulf islands, two of which, Bubiyan (the largest)
and Warbah, are largely uninhabited but strategically important.
The island of Faylakah, at the mouth of Kuwait Bay, is densely
inhabited. It is believed to be the outermost point of the ancient
civilization of Dilmun, which was centered in what is present-day
Bahrain. Faylakah is the site of an ancient Greek temple built
by the forces of Alexander the Great. Kuwait's most prominent
geographic feature is Kuwait Bay, which indents the shoreline
for about forty kilometers, providing natural protection for the
port of Kuwait and accounting for nearly onehalf the state's shoreline.
To the south and west, Kuwait shares a long border of 250 kilometers
with Saudi Arabia. The boundary between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
was set by the Treaty of Al Uqayr in 1922, which also established
the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone of 5,700 square kilometers.
In 1966 Kuwait and Saudi Arabia agreed to divide the Neutral Zone;
the partitioning agreement making each country responsible for
administration in its portion was signed in December 1969. The
resources in the area, since known as the Divided Zone, are not
affected by the agreement, and the oil from onshore and offshore
fields continues to be shared equally between the two countries.
The third side of the triangle is the 240 kilometers of historically
contested border to the north and west that Kuwait shares with
Iraq. Although the Iraqi government, which had first asserted
a claim to rule Kuwait in 1938, recognized the borders with Kuwait
in 1963 (based on agreements made earlier in the century), it
continued to press Kuwait for control over Bubiyan and Warbah
islands through the 1960s and 1970s. In August 1990, Iraq invaded
Kuwait and, shortly thereafter, formally incorporated the entire
country into Iraq. Under United Nations (UN) Security Council
Resolution 687, after the restoration of Kuwaiti sovereignty in
1991, a UN commission undertook formal demarcation of the borders
on the basis of those agreed to in 1963. The boundary was demarcated
in 1992, but Iraq refuses to accept the commission's findings.
Kuwait has a desert climate, hot and dry. Rainfall varies from
seventy-five to 150 millimeters a year across the country; actual
rainfall has ranged from twenty-five millimeters a year to as
much as 325 millimeters. In summer, average daily high temperatures
range from 42° C to 46° C; the highest recorded temperature
is 51.5° C. The summers are relentlessly long, punctuated
mainly by dramatic dust storms in June and July when northwesterly
winds cover the cities in sand. In late summer, which is more
humid, there are occasional sharp, brief thunderstorms. By November
summer is over, and colder winter weather sets in, dropping temperatures
to as low as 3° C at night; daytime temperature is in the
upper 20s C range. Frost rarely occurs; rain is more common and
falls mostly in the spring.
The land was formed in a recent geologic era. In the south, limestone
rises in a long, north-oriented dome that lies beneath the surface.
It is within and below this formation that the principal oil fields,
Kuwait's most important natural resource, are located. In the
west and north, layers of sand, gravel, silt, and clay overlie
the limestone to a depth of more than 210 meters. The upper portions
of these beds are part of a mass of sediment deposited by a great
wadi whose most recent channel was the Wadi al Batin, the broad
shallow valley forming the western boundary of the country. On
the western side of Ar Rawdatayn geological formation, a freshwater
aquifer was discovered in 1960 and became Kuwait's principal water
source. The supply is insufficient to support extensive irrigation,
but it is tapped to supplement the distilled water supply that
fills most of the country's needs. The only other exploited aquifer
lies in the permeable zone in the top of the limestone of the
Ash Shuaybah field south and east of the city of Kuwait. Unlike
water from the Ar Rawdatayn aquifer, water from the Ash Shuaybah
aquifer is brackish. Millions of liters a day of this water are
produced for commercial and household purposes.
The bulk of the Kuwaiti population lives in the coastal capital
of the city of Kuwait. Smaller populations inhabit the nearby
city of Al Jahrah, smaller desert and coastal towns, and, prior
to the Persian Gulf War, some of the several nearby gulf islands,
Data as of January 1993