Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led, UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family has ruled since returning to power in 1991 and reestablished an elected legislature that in recent years has become increasingly assertive. The country witnessed the historic election in May 2009 of four women to its National Assembly.
sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year but are most common between March and August
21 years of age; universal (adult); note - males in the military or police are not allowed to vote; adult females were allowed to vote as of 16 May 2005; all voters must have been citizens for 20 years
chief of state: Amir SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since 29 January 2006); Crown Prince NAWAF al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah
head of government:
Prime Minister NASIR AL-MUHAMMAD al-Ahmad al-Sabah (since 3 April 2007); First Deputy Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBAREK al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006); Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD AL-SABAH al-Salim al-Sabah (since 9 February 2006)
Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister and approved by the amir
none; the amir is hereditary; the amir appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers
Kuwait is a small, rich, relatively open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 104 billion barrels - 8% of world reserves. Petroleum accounts for nearly half of GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 80% of government income. Kuwait experienced rapid economic growth over the last several years on the back of high oil prices and in 2008 posted its tenth consecutive budget surplus. As a result of this positive fiscal situation, the need for economic reforms was less urgent and the government did not push through new initiatives. The drop in oil prices in late 2008 will reduce Kuwait's fiscal surplus in 2009. The global financial crisis may slow the pace of investment and development projects, but Kuwait has vowed to use its considerable financial resources to stabilize the economy if necessary.
general assessment: the quality of service is excellent
new telephone exchanges provide a large capacity for new subscribers; trunk traffic is carried by microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and open-wire and fiber-optic cable; a cellular telephone system operates throughout Kuwait, and the country is well supplied with pay telephones
country code - 965; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); linked to Bahrain, Qatar, UAE via the Fiber-Optic Gulf (FOG) cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia; satellite earth stations - 6 (3 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean, 1 Inmarsat - Atlantic Ocean, and 2 Arabsat)
current situation: Kuwait is a destination country for men and women who migrate legally from South and Southeast Asia for domestic or low-skilled labor, but are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude by employers in Kuwait including conditions of physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement to the home, and withholding of passports to restrict their freedom of movement; Kuwait is reportedly a transit point for South and East Asian workers recruited for low-skilled work in Iraq; some of these workers are deceived as to the true location and nature of this work, and others are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in Iraq
Tier 3 - insufficient efforts in 2007 to prosecute and punish abusive employers and those who traffic women for sexual exploitation; the government failed for the fourth year in a row to live up to promises to provide shelter and protective services for victims of involuntary domestic servitude and other forms of trafficking (2008)