Kuwait Country Facts

الكويت – Kuwait
Capital city Kuwait City
Surface 17,820 km²
Population 4,420,000
Road network length 5,749 km
Length of highway network 525 km
First highway ?
Motorway name ?
Traffic drives Right
License plate code KWT

Kuwait (Arabic: الكويت ‎ al -Kuwait), formally the State of Kuwait (Arabic: دولة الكويت Dawlat al-Kuwait) is a small country in Asia. The country is located at the end of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East and has 4.4 million inhabitants. The capital is Kuwait City. The country is about the same size as half of the Netherlands.


Kuwait is a small country at the western end of the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabiain the south. The country measures 150 by 170 kilometers and has a fairly long coastline. Large parts of Kuwait consist of flat and undeveloped desert land. The highest point in the country is the 306 meter high Mutla Ridge. To the north is the delta of the Khawr Abd Allah, where the Tigris and Euphrates flow into the Persian Gulf. Central to the country is Kuwait Bay, crossed by a long bridge connection. The country has a hot continental climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. The average maximum temperature varies from 18-20°C in winter to 45°C in summer. Kuwait is one of the hottest countries in the world. There is an average of only 100 mm of precipitation per year, but precipitation is sporadic and can fall infrequently in large amounts.


By 1950, Kuwait had only 150,000 inhabitants. This grew to about 800,000 inhabitants in the 1970s, mainly due to the development of the oil and gas industry. The country has always had more residents without Kuwaiti nationality than with. Today, the country has 4 million inhabitants, more than 70% of them are foreigners who work as laborers in the country.  Due to the many foreign workers, the proportion of Arabs in Kuwait is relatively low at around 60%. Indians and Egyptians make up the largest foreign groups. Arabic is spoken in Kuwait, but English is also relatively widely spoken and is the language of the business world.

About 3/5 of the population lives in the capital, Kuwait City. Almost all residents outside of it live in one of the suburbs in the region, large parts of Kuwait are barely populated outside the vicinity of Kuwait City.


Kuwait’s economy is largely centered on the oil and gas industry. 87% of the export consists of crude oil or refined oil. The remaining exports are largely by-products of the oil industry, so Kuwait has a very one-sided economy. However, the oil revenues allow the country to have a high standard of wealth, the country is in the top 10 richest countries in the world. In addition to the oil industry, there is a regional financial sector. The country has the oldest oil fund in the world.


In 1613, the city of Kuwait City was founded. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Kuwait became known for building ships. The country became a haven for traders who wanted to stay outside the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait became a British protectorate in 1899. After World War I, Saudi Arabia attempted to annex Kuwait, leading to a war in 1919-1920, which Kuwait won. Thereafter, the Saudis imposed a trade blockade of Kuwait, which lasted until 1937. Kuwait’s borders were drawn in 1922, ceding half of Kuwait to Saudi Arabia.

In 1938 oil was found in Kuwait. After World War II, Kuwait modernized at a rapid pace, aided by rapidly growing oil revenues. The period from 1946 to 1982 is considered the golden age in Kuwait. In 1952, Kuwait was the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. Kuwait became independent from the United Kingdom in 1961. In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait was the most developed country in the Middle East. The country was liberal and western oriented during this period.

In the 1980s an economic crisis set in due to the sharp fall in oil prices. In August 1990, Kuwait was occupied by Iraq and annexed. The Iraqis were expelled during the 1991 Gulf War by a coalition led by the Americans. The retreating Iraqi army set oil wells on fire in a scorched earth tactic. In 2003, Kuwait became the springboard for the US invasion of Iraq. Kuwait is now considered one of the most modern Arab countries.

Road Network

Kuwait’s highway network.

All transport in Kuwait is by road as there are no rivers or railways. The road network is well developed. Given the size of the country and the fact that there is only one urban core, the country has a particularly large highway network of 525 kilometers. The capital Kuwait City has a radial structure with 7 ring roads, which are however only semicircular, because the city is located on the sea. Virtually all major intersections in Kuwait City are grade-separated. There is one highway to Basra in Iraq. Two run to Saudi Arabia, to Dhahran and Hafar respectively. Along the east coast, two highways run from Kuwait City toward the Saudi border, merging halfway through, with one continuing on. There is also a highway between Kuwait City and the airport. In total, 6 radial roads of Kuwait City have been developed as a highway. The largest traffic project is the construction of the 34-kilometer-longSheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Causeway across the Kuwait Bay. A problem for road traffic are the frequent dust and sand storms.

Major Roads in Kuwait
Route 1 • Route 2 • Route 3 • Route 4 • Route 5 • Route 6 • Route 7 • Route 30 • Route 40 • Route 50 • Route 51 • Route 60 • Route 70 • Route 80Jamal Abdul Nasser Motorway • Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah Causeway

Maximum speed

The speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h. The speed limit is enforced with hundreds of speed cameras. Also, almost all intersections have red light cameras.

Road numbering

The 1-digit roads are ring roads of Kuwait City, running from 1 to 7. They are also named as “First Ring Road” and “Seventh Ring Road”. The main roads are the two-digit roads, which run in a radial system from Kuwait City, from 30 to 90 clockwise. Route 30 runs along the east coast to the Saudi border, Route 80 runs to Basra. Three-digit numbers are secondary roads that are usually not much longer than 10 kilometers. The number of this usually comes from the 2-digit number that crosses the road.


The signage consists of green signs with white letters on highways and blue signs with white letters on other roads, and is in both English and Arabic. The Highway Interstate Gothic font is also used in Kuwait. Sometimes the names of highways are written in full on the signs, which leads to some confusion.


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