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Facts at a Glance
 Full country name: The State of Kuwait

Area: 17,800 sq km (7000 sq mi)

Population: 2.2 million (750,000 Kuwaiti citizens)

Capital city: Kuwait City (pop 238,000)

People: Kuwaiti (45%), other Arab (35%), Asian (9%)

Language: Arabic, English

Religion: Muslim (85%), Christian, Hindu

Government: Constitutional monarchy

Prime minister: Crown Prince Saad al-Abdallah al-Salim al-Sabah

Head of state: The Emir, Sheikh Jabir al-Sabah


Tiny Kuwait sits at the north-western tip of the Persian Gulf, bordered to the north and west by Iraq and to the south by Saudi Arabia. It's about the size of Slovenia or the US state of New Jersey. Kuwait's land is mostly flat and arid with little or no ground water. The desert is generally gravelly, and the only vegetation in existence is scrub. The only significant geographic feature is the now infamous Al-Mutla ridge, where Allied aircraft massacred a column of retreating Iraqi forces in the closing hours of the Persian Gulf war.

In the summer (April to September) Kuwait is hellishly hot; its only saving grace is that it's nowhere near as humid as its neighbours. The winter months are often pleasant, featuring some of the region's coolest weather, with daytime temperatures hovering around 18°C (64°F) and nights being genuinely chilly. Sandstorms occur throughout the year but are particularly common in spring.

Economic Profile
 GDP: US$43.7 billion

GDP per head: US$22,700

Annual growth: 3%

Inflation: 1%

Major industries: Petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination

Major trading partners: Japan, India, US

Facts for the Traveler
 Visas: Everyone except nationals of other Gulf States needs a visa to enter Kuwait. Kuwait does not issue tourist visas; large hotels can sponsor visas. If your passport contains an Israeli stamp, you will be refused entry to Kuwait.

Health risks: Unexploded bombs and land mines

Time: GMT/UTC plus 3 hours

Electricity: 220V and 240V, 50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs
 Currency:Kuwaiti dinar (KD)
Relative Costs:

  • Budget: US$5-7
  • Mid-range: US$7-15
  • Top-end: US$15 and upwards

  • Lodging

  • Budget: US$40-70
  • Mid-range: US$70-150
  • Top-end: US$150 and upwards
  • Kuwait is expensive. A rock-bottom budget starts around US$65 a day, and you're likely to find yourself spending more than that. Mid-range tastes require more in the neighbourhood of US$80 a day; top-end tastes tally up to US$175 and more.

    For a country with a highly sophisticated financial system, Kuwait can be a remarkably frustrating place to change money. Banks charge excessive commissions and moneychangers often refuse to change travellers' cheques. The bright spot is that credit cards are widely accepted.

    Tipping is only expected in fancier restaurants. Know, however, that the service charge added to your bill in such places goes into the till, not to the wait staff. Bargaining is not common except in

    When to Go

    The best time to visit Kuwait is in May or October - right before or right after summer, when the temperatures are civilised.

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