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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. It occupies an area about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Saudi Arabia's population is 27 million, including 8.4 million foreign residents (2010 census), and its capital city is Riyadh.


Saudi Arabia's geography is diverse, with forests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts. The climate varies from region to region. Temperatures can reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert in the summer, while in the winter temperatures in the north and central parts of the country can drop below freezing. Saudi Arabia gets very little rain, only about four inches a year on average.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, although, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. The Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are declared to be the country's constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been written for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia remains the only Arab Nation where no national elections have ever taken place, since its creation. No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist's 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the seventh most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.

On 25 September 2011, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has announced that women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections and join the advisory Shura council as full member and be able to run as candidates in the municipal election.

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