Land and People
The country is a low, sandy region that is generally barren and sparsely settled. It has a warm climate, dry inland and humid along the coast. The population is about 80% Arab; however, somewhat more than half the population are non-Kuwaitis. Native Kuwaitis have an extremely high per capita income, pay no taxes, and enjoy numerous social services. Since the development of the oil industry, large numbers of foreigners have found employment in Kuwait; non-Kuwaitis represent about 80% of the labor force. Foreign ethnic groups include South Asians, Iranians, and others. Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Some 85% of the population is Muslim, with about twice as many Sunnis as Shiites. There are Christian, Hindu, and Parsi minorities.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.