Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
National name: Al-Mamlaka al-'Arabiya as-Sa'udiya
Government: Saudi Arabia was an absolute monarchy until 1992, at which time the Sa'ud royal family introduced the country's first constitution. The legal system is based on the sharia (Islamic law).
Geography: Saudi Arabia occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, with the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba to the west, and the Arabian Gulf to the east. Neighboring countries are Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Yemen, and Bahrain, connected to the Saudi mainland by a causeway. Saudi Arabia contains the world's largest continuous sand desert, the Rub Al-Khali, or Empty Quarter. Its oil region lies primarily in the eastern province along the Arabian Gulf.
Area: 756,981 sq mi (1,960,582 sq km)
Population (2003 est.): 24,293,844 (growth rate: 3.1%); birth rate: 37.2/1000; infant mortality rate: 47.9/1000; density per sq mi: 32
Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Riyadh, 3,724,100
Other large cities: Jeddah, 2,745,000; Makkah (Mecca), 1,614,800
Monetary unit: Riyal
Languages: Arabic, English widely spoken
Ethnicity/race: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
Religion: Islam 100%
Agriculture: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk.
Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, cement, construction, fertilizer, plastics.
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper.