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The State of Qatar is situated on the Qatar Peninsula in West Asia. Its only land boundary is with Saudi Arabia to the south. As Qatar occupies the entire peninsula, the remainder of the country is surrounded by the Persian Gulf. A nearby neighbor is the island nation of Bahrain, whose Hawar and Sawad islands are just off the coast of northern Qatar.

Although the Qatar Peninsula has been inhabited as long as 50,000 years ago, its history as a country begins in the early 1700s, when a group of Kuwaitis founded a town on the northwestern coast of the peninsula. Founded by Al Bin Ali, Zubarah soon became a busy port settlement.

In 1783, the Al Khalifa tribe, also from Kuwait, invaded and annexed the Qatar Peninsula. Soon afterward, the Al Khalifa extended their control over Bahrain. In time, a local resistance movement began, and united under Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, declaring independence for Qatar. In 1867, the Al Khalifa waged a naval battle against Qatar's port cities, and the British stepped in to negotiate a peace that recognized the independence of Qatar, which was formally announced in 1878.

Qatar still faced hostilities from the Ottoman Empire, including an 1893 battle in which Qatari forces defeated invading Turkish troops. Qatar became a British protectorate in 1916, a designation that remained until 1971. The influence of the British declined after World War II, particularly with the independence of India and Pakistan, as well as pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.

Initially, Qatar joined into a federation with Bahrain and other coastal alliances, regional differences caused Qatar to declare its independence from the alliance that would later split into the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Until the 1940s, Qatar was sparsely populated and impoverished. Its economy consisted largely of pearl hunting and fishing. When Japan developed pearl farming in the 1920s, Qatar's pearling industry took a dive. Things looked bleak for Qatar, but the discovery of huge oil reserves in 1940 changed all of that. Qatar became immensely wealthy, which gave the country the resources it needed to modernize and to form a fully independent government.

In 1995, the Emir of Qatar was deposed in a coup by his son, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Khalifa Al Thani, who began a series of series of projects whose end result was to make Qatar a neutral power broker for regional conflicts, a position it still serves.

The Emir stepped down in 2013, handing power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family, which has been in power since 1825. In 2003, Qatar adopted a constitution that establishes an elected legislative council. Laws proposed by the council are referred to an advisory council for discussion after they are submitted to the Emir for ratification. The Emir has the final word on all matters.

Sharia law is the chief source of legislation in Qatar, although its laws are a mixture of Sharia and civil law. In court, a female's testimony is worth less than that of a man, and corporal punishment, such as flogging, is common for crimes such as alcohol consumption and illicit sex, although such punishments are generally only imposed on foreign nationals. Stoning is also a legal punishment in Qatar, and apostasy and homosexuality are capital crimes. Non-Muslim expatriates living in Qatar can obtain a permit allowing the consumption of alcohol.

Indigenous Qatari are ethnic Bedouins, although non-Arab foreigners make up a large majority of the country's population, Indians being the largest group, followed by Nepalis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Egyptians, Sri Lankans, and Pakistanis. Citizens make up only 12% of the country's total population.

Islam is the official religion of Qatar, and the sole religion of its indigenous population, most of whom are Salafi Muslims. Qatar's Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist populations are largely non-citizen foreigners. Arabic is the official language, while English is the most common second language.

Like many other predominantly Muslim oil-producing countries, Qatar uses a sponsorship (kafala) system for foreign workers, which make up about 95% of the Qatar workforce. This system requires foreign workers to have a Qatari sponsor, usually their employer, who is responsible for their visa and legal status. International monitors have reported several cases of abuse in this system, the most common being the refusal to release employees once their agreed-upon employment period has ended. With a sponsor release, employees are prohibited from seeking or accepting work with another company or leave the country.

This category is focused on the State of Qatar. Appropriate topics may relate to the country itself or to businesses or other entities within Qatar.



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