Useful country information
Total area: 829,995 sq mi (2,149,690 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 27,345,986 (growth rate: 1.49%); birth rate: 18.78/1000; infant mortality rate: 14.58/1000; life expectancy: 74.82; density per sq mi: 31
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Riyadh, 5.451 million
Other large cities: Jeddah, 3.578 millioin; Makkah (Mecca), 1.591 million
Monetary unit: Riyal
National name: Al-Mamlaka al-'Arabiya as-Sa'udiya
Ethnicity/race: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
Religion: Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia), other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh) (2012 est.)
National Holiday: National Day, September 23
Literacy rate: 87.2% (2011 est.)
Saudi Arabia is famous for oil, to be the origin of Islam, Arabian horses, the world's largest sand desert (Rub' Al Khali), the world's largest oasis (Al-Ahsa), Arabian coffee, oil, veiled women, countless mosques, Bedouins on horses, Bedouins on camels, Bedouins with falcons, sword-wielding dance moves, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river.
In 1902 Abdul al-Aziz Ibn SAUD captured Riyadh and set out on a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian peninsula. In the 1930s, oil discovery transformed the country from an underdeveloped tribal desert kingdom to one of the region's wealthiest nations.
Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former Governor of Riyadh is now King of Saudi Arabia. Major modernizing changes currently being enacted in Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
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