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Kuwait

Kuwait is situated northeast of Saudi Arabia at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, south of Iraq. It is slightly larger than Hawaii. The low-lying desert land is mainly sandy and barren. Kuwait is an Arabic and Muslim country that lies on the northwestern tip of the Persian Gulf in south-west Asia. With a population of about 2 million, and a land area of less than 7,000 square miles, Kuwait is a small, desert country surrounded by its bigger neighbors, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Although Arab tribes began to settle in what is now Kuwait in the 16th century, Kuwait did not exist as a country until the 18th century. The discovery of oil in the 20th century transformed all aspects of Kuwaiti life, and made Kuwait one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The Islamic Middle Eastern state of Kuwait, situated at the northwest extreme of the Persian Gulf, is somewhat overshadowed and overwhelmed by its neighbours Iran, Saudi Arabia, and especially war-torn Iraq. Nevertheless, the flat and featureless country is beginning to attract tourists and businessmen from the west, particularly Americans. Those visiting Kuwait today are imbued with a lust for adventure that has nothing to do with adrenalin-producing experiences, but rather a yen to explore a not too radical fundamentalist Muslim culture and witness a country undergoing post-war reconstruction.

The ruined capital, Kuwait City, has risen from the ashes of war to become a buzzing metropolis with gleaming high rises, numerous luxury hotels and lush parks set along wide avenues. The city's major landmark is the Kuwait Towers, visible from the harbour where oil tankers come and go, docking alongside hundreds of cargo ships and pleasure craft. Kuwait is now regarded as a relatively safe destination with plenty to interest the traveller, not only in Kuwait City itself but throughout, from its arid desert plateau to the fertile coastal belt and the nine small offshore islands over which it has sovereignty.

Kuwait has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Although oil exportation is responsible for much of the wealth in Kuwait, foreign investments garnered more income than oil exports by 1990. Approximately 2.3 million barrels of oil are produced per day, 2 million of which are exported. Leading purchasers of Kuwaiti oil are Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Kuwait's land is a desert, there is very little in terms of agricultural activity. Leading industries are petroleum, petrochemicals, desalination, food processing, and construction materials. Kuwait imports most of its food, along with many other goods, with chief sources of imports being the United States, Japan, and Germany. Kuwait's economy is relatively open, and the government does not impose any taxes. Kuwait's currency is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD), which is the most valuable currency in the world.

Kuwait shares European weather patterns but is hotter and drier. Springs are cool and pleasant. The spring season in March is warm and pleasant with occasional thunderstorms. The frequent winds from the northwest are cold in winter and spring and hot in summer. Southeasterly winds, usually hot and damp, spring up between July and October; hot and dry south winds prevail in spring and early summer. The shamal, a northwesterly wind common during June and July, causes dramatic sandstorms.

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