OFFICIAL NAME: State of Qatar
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Absolute Monarchy
AREA: 11,437 Sq Km (4,416 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 578,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Qatar is located on the east coast
of the Arabian Peninsula. The territory includes the mainland
and a number of small islands. It is bound by Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates to the south and the Persian
Gulf to the north, east and west. The country's terrain
is flat, barren, rocky and sandy. The low central plateau
which contains a number of shallow wadis rises from the
east and north. In the south, belts of Sabkhah or salt flats
surround most of the coast. Major Cities (pop. est.); Doha
236,100, ar-Rayyan 99,900, al-Wakrah 25,700 (1987). Land
Use; pastures 5%, agricultural-cultivated 0.5%, desert and
other 94.5% (1993).
CLIMATE: Qatar has a desert climate that is characterized by
hot dry conditions, although it is a little milder in winter. Humidity
along the coast often reaches 90% during summer and average annual precipitation
is below 75 mm (3 inches) with most of the rainfall occurring during the
winter months. Average temperature ranges are from 23 degrees Celsius (73
degrees Fahrenheit) in winter to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit)
PEOPLE: Native Qataris are of northern Arab origin while Arabs
as a whole constitute the ethnic majority accounting for 40% of the population.
Other ethnic minorities include Pakistanis who account for 18%, Indians
for 18% and Iranians for 16% of the population.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 40 persons per sq km (103
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 89.5% urban, 10.5% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 67.2% male, 32.8% female (1986). Life Expectancy at Birth;
65.2 years male, 67.6 years female (1986). Age Breakdown; 28% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 32% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 2% 60 and over (1991). Birth Rate;
19.4 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 1.8 per 1,000 (1991). Increase Rate;
17.6 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 31.0 per 1,000 live births
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with the majority of
the population Wahhabi Muslims. The remainder are Sunni Muslims and there
is also a smaller Shiite community.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Arabic which is spoken by
the majority of the population. English is also widely understood.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
53.3%, primary 9.8%, lower secondary 10.1%, upper secondary 13.3%, higher
13.5% (1986). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 201,733 or
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Since the 1950's oil has rapidly
transformed Qatar into a developing country. In 1971 Qatar gained complete
independence from Britain and in the same year became a member of the Arab
League and the UN. In 1972 Sheik Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, the deputy
ruler, became Emir after peacefully ousting his cousin, Emir Ahmad bin
Ali al-Thani. In 1981 Qatar and other eastern Arab states formed the Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC) to work together on defense and economic projects.
In 1986 a continuing dispute with Bahrain over the nearby Hawar Islands
resulted in Qatari troops briefly occupying a coral reef which was being
reclaimed from the sea. It was later destroyed after negotiations between
the two countries. In 1990 the Emir agreed to the deployment of Arab and
Western forces on his territory after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. In Sept.
1990 the Emir ordered the expulsion of a number of prominent Palestinians
after the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) announced its support
for Iraq. During 1991 there were two standoffs between Bahraini and Qatari
gunboats in the disputed waters around the Hawar Islands while the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) gave Qatar until Feb. 1992 to present its sovereignty
claims over the potentially oil and gas rich islands. In Sept. 1991 Saudi
Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal visited Qatar and Bahrain
in an attempt to end the dispute. In the same month the US $1.3 billion
first stage of the North Field gas project, believed to be the world's
largest natural gas reserve, was inaugurated by the Emir. Also in 1991
Qatari troops participated in the liberation of the Saudi border town of
Ra's al-Khafji that had been occupied by Iraqi forces and the Emir offered
air base facilities to the allies in the Gulf War operations. In June 1992
Qatar signed a defense pact with the US. On Sept. 30, 1992 a surprise attack
by Saudi troops on a border post at Khofous resulted in the death of two
soldiers and the government's unilateral suspension of a 1965 border agreement
with Saudi Arabia. On Oct. 28, 1992 the government in breach of a GCC boycott
reinstated its ambassador in Iraq. On Dec. 20, 1992 Qatar and Saudi Arabia
reached an agreement over their border dispute. On Jan. 31, 1993 Mobil
purchased a 10% stake in the Qatar Liquefied Gas Co. that further bolstered
Qatar's North Field gas project. In May 1993 the Emir held talks in Doha
with the Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan ibn Adb al-Aziz as-Saud regarding
their border agreement. Also in 1993 the dispute with Bahrain over the
Hawar Islands in the ICJ was scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 28, 1994.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Riyal (QR) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $7,871,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $1,500,000,000 (1993). Imports; QR 6,882,000,000 (1993). Exports;
QR 11,813,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; QR 4,931,000,000
(1993). Economically Active Population; 292,568 or 53.7% of total population
(1988). Unemployed; 0.5% (1986).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the UK,
Japan, the USA and West European countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Fish, Fodder, Fruit, Livestock, Oil and Natural
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Chemicals, Fishing, Iron
and Steel, Oil and Natural Gas Production and Refining.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Dates, Frozen Shrimps, Oil and Natural
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 1,080 km (671 mi) (1988).
Vehicles; cars 88,000 (1989), trucks and buses 39,000 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 67 (1990), deadweight tonnage 555,507 (1990). Air Transport;
passenger-km 1,549,000,000 (963,000,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km
44,300,000 (30,341,000 short ton-mi) (1990).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 4 with a total circulation
of 70,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 201,000 (1992). Television; receivers
205,000 (1992). Telephones; units 111,200 (1993).
MILITARY: 11,100 (1995) total active duty personnel with 76.6%
army, 16.2% navy and 7.2% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 4.2% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).