Kuwait, officially known as the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwayt), is a Western Asian city-state on the Persian Gulf. It was founded in 1756 by a confederation of tribes in a seaside oasis. It was given the name it has, which is a transliteration of the Arabic word for "seaside fort". In other words the name means roughly "Shoreburg" or "Shorecastle".
After negotiations, it was agreed that the Al-Sabah tribe would hold the Emirate of Kuwait (not necessarily the biggest piece of the pie, considering all the wealth the other tribes would get from the deal) and the other tribes would be free to trade. This fairly civilized means of settling the issue began Kuwait's history as a Merchant City.
Through the years Kuwaitis became known as seafarers and caravaners. They were also especially known for their pearl fishing. Currently, you'd be forgiven for thinking every Kuwaiti was an Arab Oil Sheikh due to the massive petroleum industry and wealth of the Kuwaiti people.
Currently, they are also known to be fond of churning out soap operas that are very popular with Gulf Arab countries.
Politically Kuwait had a pleasantly uneventful history. Though occasionally a power struggle in the desert would bring an army roaring to their gates, their walls were impregnable to any siege techniques available to any prince in the area. The Ottomans were far away and satisfied with nominal tribute, and The British Empire was inclined to act as their patron to protect such things as local trade, policing of the seas, and the Balance of Power. On the whole, neither Great Power desired to meddle unbearably. Thus Kuwait's chief worry was negotiations with desert tribes about the proper tolls to be charged.
When oil was found in the early twentieth century, it changed Kuwait's economy. For one thing, it made it a more attractive tidbit. Kuwait finally came to the world's attention in 1990, when Saddam Hussein conquered it. For six months, Kuwait became the 19th governorate of Iraq. This threatened to give Saddam control of the Middle East oil supply. A coalition was formed and led by the United States, and the invaders were ejected.
At the present time Kuwait is recovering from the war in some regards, but the decades have lead to the scars of war being a distant after thought amidst the nation's bustling economy. The Al-Sabah's monopoly of government function has of late been questioned and there has been talk of modifying the local constitution. In terms of religion, Kuwait is less strict than its Saudi neighbor, though censorship of things that are seen as both anti-Islam and anti-state is more present than not. Regardless, this hasn't stopped young Kuwaitis from being big consumers of Western and even Japanese media that manages to get past the censors.
When portrayed in the media, Kuwait mostly shows up for Gulf War serials and War on Terror productions, the latter usually acting as a host for whatever Western nations are planning.
Demographically, Kuwait is diverse, due to having more foreign expatriates than the native-born citizens. It once hosted the largest Palestinian community outside of the Levant, though most of them have been expelled, due to their collaboration with Iraq in bringing down the Kuwaiti regime during the Gulf War. The majority of Kuwait's Muslim citizens are, like the royal family, Sunni, with Shia making up the rest. Unlike Bahrain, the Shia are well integrated and have a close relationship with the emirs, as Saddam Hussein found out badly when he tried to rally them up against the government. This relationship also factors in to its sympathy for Iran's interests during the recent conflict escalation between it and the Saudi Arabia-spearheaded Arab/West bloc, with Kuwait being generally passive about Iran's endeavors and alleged support for proxies in the region (although it does support the 2015 Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, which aims to topple the Iran-aligned Houthi movement).
Oh, and its currency is currently the world's most-valued (1 KWD = US$3.29). Funnily enough, the country is only a short distance away from Iran, whose currency is the world's least-valued (1 Kuwaiti dinar is worth around 135,000 Iranian rial in the official exchange ratenote ).
The Kuwaiti flag
- Unitary semi-constitutional monarchy
- Emir: Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah
- Prime Minister: Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah
- Speaker of Parliament: Marzouq al-Ghanim