CHAPTER 1
Geography

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula in southwestern Asia, lying to the north of Yemen and to the west and north of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. It sits to the south of the Syrian Desert and Iraq, Jordan, and Kuwait; its northern boundary runs from the Arabian (Persian) Gulf to the Gulf of Aqaba for about 870 miles (1,400 kilometers). The Red Sea is located on its west, and the Arabian Gulf to the east, as well as Bahrain and Qatar. The Red Sea is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends northward to the Gulf of Aqaba and the Jordan River valley. The natural land border of Arabia in the past was the great Syrian Desert to the north, although today borders are also demarcated with its southern neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula.

The country is between 756,954 and 899,766 square miles (1,218,199 and 2,331,000 square kilometers). The Saudi Arabian government states that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is 2,217,949 square kilometers (856,356 square miles). The figures vary in different sources because the borders with Oman and the United Arab Emirates are not very precisely defined and have been disputed. The Saudi Arabian–Oman border runs through the Rub ‘al-Khali, the great desert known as the Empty Quarter. Saudi Arabia comprises about 80 percent of the Arabian Peninsula and is about one-fifth the size of the United States.

Its northern boundaries were negotiated in the Treaty of Muhammara in 1922 and the al-Uqayr Convention, which created a diamond-shaped neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, covering about 7,000 square kilometers (2,702.715 square miles). That neutral zone was dissolved by agreement. The other divided zone, also diamond shaped, exists between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, with each country governing its half.

-1-

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Saudi Arabia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Author xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Geography 1
  • Chapter 2 - History 17
  • Chapter 3 - Government and Politics 79
  • Chapter 4 - Economy 137
  • Chapter 5 - Society 175
  • Chapter 6 - Culture 245
  • Chapter 7 - Contemporary Issues 355
  • Glossary 385
  • Facts and Figures 399
  • Major Saudi Arabian Holidays 415
  • Country-Related Organizations 419
  • Annotated Bibliography 445
  • Thematic Index 495
  • Index 519
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