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KUWAIT

Climate

Kuwait enjoys a variable continental climate with considerable differences in temperature. The average daily temperature is 33°C (90°F).

Summer months are between May and October when the temperature is high, but humidity is less compared with other Gulf states.

Annual rainfall is from 25 to 175mm annually (1 to 7in), falling mostly in the winter season. Fierce sandstorms may last several days in winter.

People

There are essentially five levels of Kuwaiti society: the ruling family, the old Kuwaiti merchant families, former Bedouins who settled in Kuwait, Arabs from other countries and foreigners. Arabic is the official language and 90% of the population is Muslim.

In per-capita terms, Kuwait has one of the highest incomes in the world. Before the Iraqi invasion in August 1990, less than 40% of the population were Kuwaiti and of the work force, less than 20% were Kuwaiti. Non-Kuwaitis enjoyed most of the welfare benefits of Kuwaiti citizens. The vote, on the other hand, was restricted to about 65,000 Kuwaiti males descended from men living in the country before 1920.

The Economy

The economy of Kuwait is based almost exclusively on oil; crude oil reserves are estimated at about 94 billion barrels - 10% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 90% of export revenues, and 75% of government income By law, 10% of all oil revenues is to be deposited into a special reserve fund to provide for the future when oil revenues are exhausted.

Due to the lack of water and arable land Kuwait couldn't develop agriculture as an economic activity. About 75% of potable water must be distilled or imported.

During the Iraqi occupation (1990-1991), a great deal of Kuwaiti wealth was taken to Iraq; the Kuwaiti government-in-exile, however, retained control of the country's very substantial overseas assets. In a move to stimulate private investment, the government paid off household debts, increased government salaries and compensated for war damage. This spending plus the costs of the war reduced Kuwait's overseas assets from $100 billion in 1990 to $40 billion in 1992. Limited oil exports began a few months after the liberation.

It was anticipated that pre-invasion oil production levels would be reached by the end of 1992. It was also estimated that it would take two to five years to restore the country's full export capacity. Gradually, oil exports started to get back to normal and higher oil prices helped reduce the budget deficit in 1999. However, with the increase in oil revenues following the restoration of the country's export capacity, the government expanded its welfare role in health, education and municipal services and public utilities.

According to the "1997 Index of Economic freedom" of economic liberalization, Kuwait ranked ahead of Norway, Sweden France, Spain, Malaysia and Argentina, to name but a few. It was a clear indication that Kuwait economy is considered to be amongst the freer in the world.


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