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Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest Arab state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab world, after Algeria. It is bordered by Jordan, and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. The Red Sea lies to its west, and the Persian Gulf lies to the east. Saudi Arabia has an area of approximately 2,250,000 km2(870,000 sq mi), and it has an estimated population of 27 million, of which 9 million are registered foreign expatriates and an estimated 2 million are illegal immigrants. Saudi nationals comprise an estimated 16 million people.

Saudi Arabia National Flag

Saudi Arabia National Flag

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932, although the conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud, referred to in Arabic as the Al Saud. The Saudi Arabian government, which has been an absolute monarchy since its inception, refers to its system of government as being Islamic, though this is contested by many due to its strong basis in Salafism, a minority school of thought in Islam. The kingdom is sometimes called "The Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.

Saudi Arabia Emblem

Saudi Arabia Emblem

Saudi Arabia has the world's second largest oil reserves which are concentrated largely in the Shia Eastern Province.It is the world's second largest oil exporter and oil accounts for more than 95% of exports and 70% of government revenue. This facilitates the creation of a welfare state although the share of the non-oil economy is growing recently. It has also the world's sixth largest natural gas reserves.

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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