Kuwait

Official name: State of Kuwait

Area: 17,820 square kilometers (11,073 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Unnamed (290 meters/950 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 3 P.M. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 176 kilometers (109 miles) from northeast to southwest; 205 kilometers (127 miles) from northwest to southeast

Land boundaries: 464 kilometers (288 miles) total boundary length; Iraq 242 kilometers (150 miles), Saudi Arabia 222 kilometers (138 miles)

Coastline: 499 kilometers (310 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Kuwait is a small Middle Eastern country located at the head of the h2rsian Gulf and surrounded by the much larger neighboring states of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran. With an area of 17,820 square kilometers (11,073 square miles), it is almost as large as the state of New Jersey.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Kuwait has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Kuwait has a desert climate, with elevated humidity in the coastal region. Summer temperatures average about 32°C (90°F), with daytime highs commonly reaching 43°C (110°F) or higher. Readings as high as 54°C (130°F) have been recorded. Winter temperatures average between 10°C and 15°C (50°F and 60°F). The prevailing northwesterly wind, which exerts a cooling influence in summer, is called the shamal. Average annual rainfall is less than 25 centimeters (10 inches), and less than 13 centimeters (5 inches) in the southern part of the country. The rainy season, which occurs between October and April, is characterized by sudden, violent storms.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Kuwait is located on the coastal plain that rings much of the Persian Gulf. Its terrain consists largely of flat or rolling desert land, with maximum elevations reached at its western and southwestern corners.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Kuwait is linked to the Arabian Sea through the Persian Gulf.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Kuwait is located at the northwestern edge of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, which empties into the Arabian Sea by way of the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Kuwait has one deeply indented bay, Kuwait Bay, which has the only deepwater harbor on the western coast of the Persian Gulf.

Another coastal indentation is the site of several uninhabited islands.

Islands and Archipelagos

There are nine islands off the coast of Kuwait. The largest are Būbiyān and Warbah, both uninhabited. The only one that is inhabited is Faylakah, at the edge of Kuwait Bay.

Coastal Features

Kuwait's low-lying coast is characterized by areas of marshland, as well as mud flats, sand-bars, and islets.

6 INLAND LAKES

There is an oasis at Al Jarah, at the western end of Kuwait Bay.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Some of Kuwait's wadis , or desert basins, fill with water during the winter rains, but the country has no permanent rivers or lakes.

8 DESERTS

The Kuwaiti desert is undulating and gravelly, with few hills or ridges.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Kuwait's terrain gradually rises, from near sea level at the coast, to elevations of about 198 meters (650 feet) in the northwest, nearly reaching 305 meters (1,000 feet) at its westernmost edge. The country's two other noticeable points of elevation are the Az Zawr escarpment on the northern shore of Kuwait Bay (145 meters/475 feet), and the Al-Ahmadī ridge south of the bay (137 meters/450 feet). Also of note is AshShaqāyā Peak in the western corner of the country, rising to a height of 290 meters (951 feet).

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Kuwait has no actual mountain ranges.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

Kuwait has no canyons or caves.

DID YOU KNOW?

Distilled water is the main source of drinking water in Kuwait, which has some of the world's most sophisticated desalination facilities.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Kuwait has no distinct plateaus or monoliths.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

Although Būbiyān Island is uninhabited, there is a large bridge linking it to the mainland. Kuwait and Iraq both claim rights to the island. Since there is no actual reason to visit the island, this bridge has been called "the bridge to nowhere."

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Facey, William, and Gillian Grant. Kuwait by the First Photographers . London: I. B. Tauris, 1999.

Rahman, H. The Making of the Gulf War: Origins of Kuwait's Long-standing Territorial Dispute with Iraq . Reading, England: Ithaca, 1997.

Robison, Gordon, and Paul Greenway. Bahrain, Kuwait & Qatar . London: Lonely Planet, 2000.

Web Sites

Kuwait Information Office. http://www.kuwait-info.org/thanks.html (accessed April 24, 2003).

Kuwait Online. http://www.kuwaitonline.com/ (accessed April 24, 2003).

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