Official name: State of Qatar
Area: 11,437 square kilometers (4,416 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Qurayn Abu al Bawl (103 meters/338 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 3 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 160 kilometers (100 miles) from north to south; 90 kilometers (55 miles) from east to west
Land boundaries: 60 kilometers (37 miles) total boundary length, all with Saudi Arabia
Coastline: 563 kilometers (350 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
Qatar consists of a tiny peninsula projecting northward into the Persian Gulf from the larger Arabian Peninsula. With an area of 11,437 square kilometers (4,416 square miles), Qatar is almost as large as the state of Connecticut.
Qatar has no territories or dependencies.
Qatar has a desert climate that is characterized by extremely hot and dry summers, from May to October, and mild winters. Mean temperatures in June are 42°C (108°F), dropping to 15°C (59°F) in winter. Average annual precipitation is less than 8 centimeters (3 inches). Most of the rainfall occurs during the winter months, sometimes only in localized heavy downpours. Humidity along the coast frequently reaches 90 percent during summer.
Qatar's terrain is mostly a flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel, with some low hills and a central limestone plateau.
Qatar borders the Persian Gulf on the north, east, and southeast and the Gulf of Bahrain on the west.
A notable feature of the coastal area is the prevalence of salt pans, which are shallow depressions made up of salt flats ( sabkhas ). Their presence at the base of the peninsula suggests that Qatar was an island at one time. Coral reefs impede navigation in the coastal seas surrounding Qatar, as does the shallowness of these waters.
In the southeast there is a jagged inlet of the Persian Gulf that is known as Khōr al-'Udeid (the Inland Sea). Along the southwest coast lies the Dawhat Salwah, an inlet of the Gulf of Bahrain.
Qatar includes a few islands in addition to the main peninsula. The most important island is Halul, which lies about 90 kilometers (60 miles) east of Doha and has an area of only about 1.5 square kilometers (0.6 square miles). It is used for storing oil found in offshore wells and loading it onto ships for trade.
The coastline of Qatar is part of a regional low desert plain, and it contains two natural harbors. The capital of Doha is located on a sizable, though shallow, port. Umm Said also provides a commercial harbor. Qatar also has two important capes: Ra's Rakan at its north-ernmost point and Al-Maţbakh, which juts into the Persian Gulf just north of Al-Khawr. The inlet known as Khōr al-'Udeid (the Inland Sea) is surrounded by extensive sand dunes.
Limited natural freshwater resources have increased Qatar's dependence on large-scale desalination facilities.
Though Qatar has no perennial rivers, there are rainwater-draining basins in the north and central areas of the country.
Qatar is an extension of the Arabian Peninsula's Rub'al-Khali (Empty Quarter) desert, which reaches northward from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Massive sand dunes surround Khōr al-'Udeid in the south of Qatar.
Qatar is mostly flat, with scanty vegetation. Hills and sand dunes reach an altitude of 40 meters (131 feet) in the western and northern parts of the country.
There are no mountains in Qatar.
Qatar's karst limestone topography includes at least ten large caves. Many of the depressions in Qatar's terrain are actually collapsed caverns.
A low central limestone plateau, which contains a number of shallow wadis, rises from the east and north. There are elevated limestone formations, called the Dukhān anticline, along the west coast; underneath them lies the Dukhān oil field.
Except for the harbors at Doha and Umm Said, all of Qatar's ports are artificial, created by digging channels to deepen Qatar's shallow coastal waters. Among these man-made ports are those at Al-Khawr and Al-Wakrah.
Ferdinand, Klaus. Bedouins of Qatar. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993.
Vine, Peter. The Heritage of Qatar . London: IMMEL Publications, 1992.
Winckler, Onn. Population Growth, Migration and Socio-Demographic Policies in Qatar . Tel Aviv: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2000.