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Geography—note: extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal

total: 1,960,582 sq km
land: 1,960,582 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Coastline: 2,640 km

Climate: harsh, dry desert with great extremes of temperature

Terrain: mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Environment—current issues: desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills 

Population: 20,785,955 (July 1998 est.)
note: includes 5,244,058 non-nationals (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 4,547,971; female 4,398,628)
15-64 years: 55% (male 6,738,820; female 4,591,477)
65 years and over: 2% (male 268,136; female 240,923) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.41% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 37.63 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.02 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 41.34 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.03 years
male: 68.19 years
female: 71.96 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.38 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religions: Muslim 100%

Languages: Arabic

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.8%
male: 71.5%
female: 50.2% (1995 est.) 

National capital: Riyadh

Independence: 23 September 1932 (unification)

National holiday: Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)

Constitution: governed according to Shari'a (Islamic law); the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was introduced in 1993

Suffrage: none

Political parties and leaders: none allowed 

Economy—overview: This is a well-to-do oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. About 35% of GDP comes from the private sector. Economic (as well as political) ties with the US are especially strong. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 35% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved total), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. For the 1990s the government intends to bring its budget, which has been in deficit since 1983, back into balance, and to encourage private economic activity. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Helped by production above its OPEC quota, Saudi Arabia continued to bring its finances closer into balance in 1997, recording a $1.6 billion budget deficit and a $200 million current account surplus. For 1998, the country looks to its policies of maintaining moderate fiscal reforms, restraining public spending, and encouraging nonoil exports. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 46%
services: 48% (1996)

Agriculture—products: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

total value: $56.7 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%
partners: Japan 17%, US 15%, South Korea 10%, Singapore 8%, France 5% (1996 est.)

total value: $25.4 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
partners: US 22%, UK 12%, Japan 9%, Germany 8%, Italy 5%, France 4% (1996 est.)

Debt—external: $NA

Currency: 1 Saudi riyal (SR) = 100 halalah 

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 5,595,295 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 3,112,733 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $18.1 billion (1997 est.)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 12% (1997 est.)

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