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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

المملكة العربية السعودية
al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabīyah as-Su‘ūdīyah
Flag of Saudi Arabia
Location of Saudi Arabia
and largest city
Official languages Arabic
Demonym(s) Saudi Arabian, Saudi (informal)
Government Unitary Islamic
absolute monarchy
• King
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
Nayef bin Abdul Aziz
Legislature None - legislation by king's decree.
23 September 1932[2]
• Total
2,250,000 km2 (870,000 sq mi) (12th)
• Water (%)
• 2010 estimate
27,136,977[3] (46th)
• Density
12/km2 (31.1/sq mi) (216th)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Arabic: المملكة العربية السعودية, al-Mamlaka al-ʻArabiyya as-Saʻūdiyya) is a Muslim country in the Middle East. It is a kingdom ruled by the Al Saud royal family. Much of the world's crude oil supply comes from Saudi Arabia. Because of this, the Saudi royal family is very rich.[6]

Sunni Islam is the state religion.[7] Even though the government does not forbid practicing any religion in private, the practice of non-Islamic religions in public is forbidden.[8] The Sunni interpretation of Ahmad ibn Hanbal has a big influence in the country. His school of faith is known as Hanbali today. In the opinion of some, Al-Wahhab's teachings have become the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia.[9]

Saudi Arabia is the largest state in western Asia by land area (most of the Arabian Peninsula) and the second-largest in the Arab World. It has an estimated population of 27 million, of which 8.8 million are registered foreign expatriates and an estimated 1.5 million are illegal immigrants. Saudi nationals comprise an estimated 16 million people.[10]

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932. The conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. The Saudi Arabian government, which is an absolute monarchy, refers to its system of government as being Islamic. It has a strong basis in Wahhabism, a minority school of thought in Islam. The kingdom is sometimes called "The Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.

Saudi Arabia has the world's largest petroleum reserves and is the world's largest oil exporter.[11] Oil accounts for more than 90% of exports and nearly 75% of government revenues, facilitating the creation of a welfare state.[12] However, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concern about the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has cities that are important to the Muslim religion. Many Muslims from around the world visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia to make a pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam. Other big cities are Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. The pilgrimage is called hajj in the Arabic language. Somebody who makes a pilgrimage to Mecca is called a hajj in the Arabic language. People who are not Muslim are not allowed to enter Mecca.

Most people speak the Arabic language. Many people from other countries work in Saudi Arabia. They are called guest workers or expats.

The money, or currency is called the Saudi Riyal.


Verses from the Quran. The Quran is the official constitution of the country and a primary source of law. Arabia is unique in enshrining a religious text as a political document

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy.[13] The king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. The Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are said to be the country's constitution. No political parties or national elections are permitted.

On 25 September 2011, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said that women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections. They can also join the advisory Shura council as full members.[14]

Saudi Arabia joined the United Nations in 1945[15] It is a founder member of the Arab League.[16] In 2005 they joined the World Trade Organization.

Legal situation for women

Saudi Arabia is known for its lack of rights for women. It is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. It is the only country in the world to have this law.[17] Until 2013 women were not allowed to ride bicycles.[18] All women must have a man who protects them under the law (a guardian). They can not work, go to school, open a bank account, or get health treatment unless their guardian lets them. Only 17% of workers are women.[19] Women must wear abaya in public. These are cloaks that cover the body, hair, and face. They are usually black. Men are allowed to have up to four wives but women are not allowed more than one husband.


The Nejd landscape: desert and the Tuwaiq Escarpment near Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is home to the largest mass of sand[20] on earth, known as the Rub-al Khali desert (Rub-al Khali means "empty quarter"). The temperature is very hot. There are almost no rivers or lakes in the country. There are many wadis.

The countries of Yemen and Oman are south of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is west of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, and Jordan. All of these countries, except Jordan and Iraq, make the Arabian Peninsula.

Animal life includes wolves, hyenas, mongooses, baboons, hares, sand rats, and jerboas. There used to be many larger animals such as gazelles, oryx, and leopards. By the 1950s hunting from motor vehicles made these animals almost extinct. Birds include falcons (which are caught and trained for hunting), eagles, hawks, vultures, sand grouse and bulbuls. There are several species of snakes, many of which are venomous, and numerous types of lizards. There is a wide variety of marine life in the Persian Gulf. Domesticated animals include camels, sheep, goats, donkeys, and chickens.

Because it is mostly a desert Saudi Arabia’s plant life is mostly small herbs and shrubs tht need little water. There are a few small areas of grass and trees in southern Asir. The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is widespread.


Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces.[21] The provinces are divided into 118 governorates.

Region Capital
Provinces of Saudi Arabia
Al Bahah (or Baha) Al Bahah city
Northern Border Arar
Al Jawf (or Jouf) Sakaka city
Al Madinah Medina
Al Qasim Buraidah
Ha'il Ha'il city
Asir Abha
Eastern Province Dammam
Al Riyadh Riyadh city
Tabuk Tabuk city
Najran Najran city
Makkah Mecca
Jizan Jizan city


These are the largest cities in Saudi Arabia.

Largest cities by population

145px Jeddah Seafront.jpg The Holy Mosque in Mecca.jpg
Riyadh 8.7
Jeddah 4.6
Mecca 1.7
Medina 1.3 Riyadh Jeddah Mecca
Dammam 2.5 Modern Medina.JPG Housing Dammam.jpg Abha from Abha Palace Hotel.JPG
Ta'if 0.7
Buraydah 0.6
Tabuk 0.5
Abha 0.4
Khamis Mushait 0.4 Medina Dammam Abha


  1. "About Saudi Arabia: Facts and figures". The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington D.C. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  2. "Saudi Arabia the country in Brief". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  3. Central Department Of Statistics & information as updated 2010
  4. "Saudi Arabia". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  5. "HDRO (Human Development Report Office United Nations Development Programme". United Nations. 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  6. Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. p. 13. ISBN 9780313340123 .
  7. "The Basic Law of Government, Chapter one".
  8. "International Religious Freedom Report 2010: Saudi Arabia". U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-02
  9. PBS Frontline. "Analyses – Wahhabism". Retrieved 27 January 2012. "For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith."
  10. "Saudi Arabia". American Bedu. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  11. Soldatkin, Vladimir; Nastassia Astrasheuskaya (November 9, 2011). "Saudi Arabia to overtake Russia as top oil producer-IEA". Reuters. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  12. "The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia – A Welfare State". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  13. Cavendish, Marshall (2007). World and Its Peoples: the Arabian Peninsula. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7614-7571-2 .
  14. "Saudi Arabia gives women right to vote". The Guardian (London). 25 September 2011.
  15. "United Nations Member States". United Nations.
  16. "The foreign policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  20. Peter Vincent (2008). Saudi Arabia: an environmental overview. Taylor & Francis. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-415-41387-9 .'%20al%20Khali&pg=PA141#v=onepage&q=largest%20sand%20deserts%20Rub'%20al%20Khali&f=false. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
  21. "Saudi Arabia: Administrative divisions". Retrieved 2008-09-21.

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