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Kuwait

Kuwait

Summary

The oil-rich country of Kuwait has the eleventh highest GDP per capita in the world. The economic prosperity of the country is well-distributed among the predominantly Muslim community, but luxury is withheld from the minority Bidun population. Over 100,000 Bidun have been denied citizenship in the country.1 The environment is still recovering from the oil well fires from the Persian Gulf Wars, and pollution from human activity causes waves of dead fish to frequently appear on Kuwait’s beaches.2 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html#ku 2 https://www.britannica.com/place/Kuwait

Demographics

Nationality
Kuwaiti
Population
2,695,316 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Kuwait Subcases

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Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Environment
Animals

Family

Kuwait operates under a legal system that is mixed with Islam-based legal codes. Religious judges and courts oversee all family and personal status and inheritance issues. There are more instances of women’s lower social status in Kuwaiti society, such as the fact that Kuwaiti women who are married to a foreigner are not allowed to pass on citizenship to their children. There are currently no legal repercussions for marital rape, domestic violence, or sexual harassment.1 An attempt to pass legislation to punish perpetrators of sexual harassment was denied in 2015. Kuwaiti women are not allowed to marry without their father’s approval.2

Human Rights

Historically Kuwait has dealt with much political controversy and strife. Electoral laws were not followed and an entire parliament was dissolved. The government restricts the freedom of speech. Journalists who speak out against the government are prosecuted and imprisoned under criminal defamation laws. The government has also taken steps to greatly reduce the freedom of expression on media and internet outlets. Migrant workers often face discrimination, harsh working conditions, and unlawful deportation. The Kuwaiti government refuses to grant citizenship to an estimated group of 100,000 stateless immigrants known as Bidun.1 Women continue to be discriminated against and they have very little legal protections. For instance, Kuwait still has not enacted any laws that criminalize and prohibit domestic violence, sexual harassment, and marital rape.2

Education

Kuwait has developed a revised national curriculum for its public education sector, as well as regulation for private sector education. The new curriculum defines roles and standards explicitly in an effort to standardize national education. New national educational standards and teacher training will be provided. Private schools are a popular option in Kuwait, and around 257,000 students are in private institutions.1 The national literacy rate is at 95.7%.3

Poverty

Kuwait’s flourishing economy, low inflation, and low unemployment rates can be misleading when it comes to the issue of poverty.1 While there might not be a large number of Kuwaiti citizens living under the poverty line, there are significant sectors of the country who live in poverty. The majority of poverty stricken people are the Bidun, the stateless minority communities who have been denied basic human rights in Kuwait. An estimated 100,000 Bidun people have been denied citizenship. They aren’t allowed to be employed in the public sector or obtain a university education.2 The unemployment rate is at 2.1%.3

Religion

Nearly all of Kuwait’s population is Muslim; the government passed a law that requires citizenship to be granted solely to Muslims. The majority of the population is Sunni Muslim and one third are Shi’ites. Ever since the 1980s there has been significant tension between the two Muslim sects within Kuwait.1 Religious freedom within the country has been unequally meted out. Shi’ite Muslims have lodged complaints of religious discrimination, especially in religious education and not receiving permits to build mosques. There are seven government-recognized Christian churches within Kuwait that serve as places of worship for the estimated 450,000 Christians. Kuwait is 76% Muslim, 17% Christian, and 5.9% unspecified.2

Clean Water

Almost all Kuwaiti citizens have access to clean water in their homes and improved sanitation infrastructure.1 Because of this universal access, the government is very active in aiding other countries and providing financial assistance to build water purification and treatment plants. However, increasing urbanization also increases the strain on water resources. Agriculture uses a significant portion of the water resources.2

Economy

For such a geographically miniscule country, Kuwait possesses a relatively wealthy, open economy. Kuwait has around 6% of the world’s total crude oil reserves, and petroleum accounts for almost half of the nation’s GDP, as well as for 95% of the exports. In an effort to protect against future fluctuations in the oil market, Kuwait has been saving 10% of the GDP in the Fund for Future Generations. Uncertainty in the political environment has hindered the passing of policy that would assist in diversifying the economy. 60% of the economy is industry-based, and the other 40% is in the service sector.1 Investment and global trade for Kuwait have done well, but there is room for increased privatization. .2 The unemployment rate is only 2.1%.3

Government

The State of Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy. The law system is made up of English common law, French civil law, and Islamic religious law.1 Kuwait is ruled by the al-Sabah family. Transparency International ranks the country 75th out of 176 countries, and the public scores their own government 41 out of 100 for perceived corruption.2 Corruption is endemic and present at all levels of the government. With a legal framework that is largely dependent on Shari’a law, implementation of anti-corruption legislation remains slow and arduous.3

Health

The overall health standard of citizens is very high and similar to the health conditions in other highly developed countries. Infectious diseases have drastically reduced in Kuwait due to universal immunization, as well as the level of socioeconomic development.1 Life expectancy is 80 years old, and heart disease and road injuries are the leading causes of premature death. The largest health hazard to Kuwaiti people is the high population density of the capital Kuwait City. This population density has led to congestion and pollution.2

Children

Kuwait has a reputation as a destination country for human and child trafficking. The majority of the trafficking is for forced labor, but some prostitution trafficking exists.1 86% of students continue to secondary education. 17% of youth between 15 and 24 smoke or ingest tobacco at least once a month.2 The international community has also expressed concern over the inequality of marriage ages for Kuwaiti children. The legal marrying age for females is set at 15, while the marrying age for males is 17.3

Environment

One of the biggest environmental threats facing Kuwait is the pollution of the beaches on its small Persian Gulf coastline. The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources found that sufficient protection has not been given to the coastline, and large quantities of dead fish are appearing on beaches. The pollution of the beaches is mainly attributed to the unregulated and untreated discharge of human, agricultural, and industrial waste into waterways. The most prominent culprits of such behavior are desalination plants and power plants located on the coast.1 100% of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels. Kuwait produces 2.718 million barrels of crude oil per day, and exports 1.8 million barrels daily.2

Animals

The extensive oil drilling in the desert-like climate of Kuwait has endangered many species, but the Arabian Ark initiative, founded in 1971, allowed for some species to be specially preserved. The project transported endangered species to an island, Sir Bani Yas, in the Persian Gulf. This island acts as a protected nature reserve, and is home to one of the largest Arabian Oryx herds, along with endangered cheetahs and giraffes. The variety of animals now located there has turned the island into a tourist attraction for many animal lovers.1

Kuwait

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