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The independent State of Kuwait is in West Asia. With a total land area of 6,880 square-miles, Kuwait is a small country, bordering the Persian Gulf on the east, Iraq to the north and northwest, and Saudi Arabia to the south and southwest.

Most of mainland Kuwait is covered by the Arabian Desert. Kuwait also has nine islands, only one of which is inhabited. The Mesopotamians inhabited Failaka Island about 2000 BC. There were about 2,000 people on the island prior to the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Iraqi forces depopulated the island, mining its beaches, and using its buildings for target practice. Most island inhabitants did not return, although the island is used as a weekend retreat for some.

During the prehistoric period, what is now Kuwait was the place where the Mesopotamian and Neolithic Eastern Arabian people came together. The area was inhabited as early as 8000 BC, although the first mention of Kuwait in recorded history was by the Greek author, Ptolemy, around 150 AD. Over the centuries, it was inhabited by the Mesopotamians, the Dilmun Empire, the Greek Empire, the Sassanid Empire, and the Rashidun Caliphate, which introduced Islam to the region.

Kuwait came under the control of the Portuguese in 1521, who built a fortified settlement there. In 1613, Kuwait was founded as a town at the current location of Kuwait City.

The port town prospered and became a city in the 1700s. Kuwait City was a significant center along the trade route from the Persian Gulf to Aleppo. Later, it became a maritime center. Other trade routes were diverted to Kuwait, including the East India Company. By the early 1900s, Kuwait had a well-established elite, most of whom were urban Sunni Muslim families who were involved in trade.

In 1913, the British agreed with the Ottoman Empire's assertion that Kuwait was an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire and that the Kuwaitis were governors of the Ottoman government rather than independent leaders.

The 1900s saw a decline in the economic status of Kuwait City, largely because of trade blockades. During World War I, Britain imposed a trade blockade because of the Kuwaiti leadership's support for the Ottoman Empire. The Great Depression of the 1920s slowed international trade, which also had a negative effect. In 1919, Kuwait became involved in a war with Najd, a region of Saudi Arabia, which attempted to annex Kuwait. Kuwait lost more than half of its area to the Saudis. Even then, the Saudis imposed a trade blockade against Kuwait for fourteen years. and made periodic raids on Kuwait. Several merchant families left, and poverty was widespread in Kuwait.

Following World War II, Kuwait was made a British protectorate, but only for a short time. In the 1940s, oil was discovered in Kuwait. The period between 1946 and 1982 are known as the Golden Era in Kuwait. Kuwait became the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. In 1961, Kuwait became independent of Britain and its ruling Sheikh became an Emir. By 1970, Kuwait was the most developed country in the region. It also adopted Western customs. In the 1960s and 1970s, most Kuwaiti women did not wear hijabs.

Kuwait supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War. As a result, there were several terror attacks in Kuwait throughout the 1980s. Nevertheless, when Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its debt after the Iran-Iraq War, tensions began between the two countries. In 1990, Kuwait invaded and annexed Kuwait. In response, the United States and other countries acted to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. This became the Gulf War. During their retreat, Iraqi forces set several of Kuwait's oil wells on fire.

Kuwait has a semi-democratic government. The Emir is the head of state, while its political system divided between an elected parliament and an appointed government. The Emir appoints the prime minister, who selects the ministers who make up the government. Kuwait's court system is secular, and does not include Sharia courts.

Expatriates make up about 70% of Kuwait's population, with Indians and Egyptians being the largest expat communities. Most of the population of Kuwait is Sunni Muslim, although there is a large Shia minority. There is a native Christian community, although it is very small.

Kuwait has an adult literacy rate above 95%. Its official language is Modern Standard Arabic, which is used in education and journalism. Most Kuwaitis speak Kuwaiti Arabic in conversation. English is understood by many Kuwaitis and is often used as a language in business.

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