Country Profile: Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab emirate on the coast of the Persian Gulf, enclosed by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and west. The name is a diminutive of an Arabic word meaning "fortress built near water". Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and Kuwait City serves as its only political and economic capital. Kuwait has the world's fifth largest oil reserves and is one of the richest countries in the world per capita.
Kuwait has a GDP of US$138.6 billion and a per capita income of US$60,800, making it the third richest country in the world. Kuwait's human development index (HDI) stands at 0.912, the second highest in Middle East, after Israel and the highest in the Arab world. Kuwait also has one of the fastest growing economies in the region. The Kuwait Stock Exchange, which has about 200 firms listed, is the second-largest stock exchange in the Arab world with a total market capitalization of US$235 billion. Because of this, in 2007 the Kuwaiti government posted a budget surplus of US$43 billion.
Kuwait has an extensive, modern and well-maintained network of highways. Roadways extended 5,749 km, of which 4,887 km is paved. In 2000, there were some 552,400 passenger cars, and 167,800 commercial taxis, trucks, and buses in use. Since there is no railway system in the country, most of the people travel by automobiles, however the government plans to construct US$11 billion rail network which will include a city metro for its capital.
Oil revenues have allowed Kuwait to build an extensive educational system, yielding a literacy rate of 93.3 percent. Schooling is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 14. Both public and private school systems exist, with public schooling from kindergarten to secondary education available free of charge to Kuwaiti citizens.
Kuwait has one of the most vocal and transparent media networks in the Arab World. In 2007, Kuwait was ranked second in the Middle East after Israel in the freedom of press index. Though the government funds several leading newspapers and satellite channels, Kuwaiti journalists enjoy greater freedom than their regional counterparts. State-owned Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) is the largest media house in the country and The Ministry of Information regulates all media and communication industry in Kuwait.
Because of the liberities and freedoms that the Kuwaiti people have, Kuwait will continue to be a highly productive and influential country, not only in the Arab region, but in the rest of the world as well. Also Kuwait will continue to capitalize on its wealth of oil, owning nearly 10% of the global supply, this will continue to fuel their already booming economy that has made them one of the richest countries in the world.
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