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Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman Al SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. One of his male descendents rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz ascended to the throne in 2005. 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. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. The king instituted an interfaith dialogue initiative in 2008 to encourage religious tolerance on a global level; in 2009, he reshuffled the cabinet, which led to more moderates holding ministerial and judicial positions, and appointed the first female to the cabinet. The 2010-11 uprising across Middle Eastern and North African countries sparked modest incidents in Saudi cities, predominantly by Shia demonstrators calling for the release of detainees and the withdrawal from Bahrain of the Gulf Cooperation Council's Peninsula Shield Force. Protests in general were met by a strong police presence, with some arrests, but not the level of bloodshed seen in protests elsewhere in the region. In response to the unrest, King ABDALLAH in February and March 2011 announced a series of benefits to Saudi citizens including funds to build affordable housing, salary increases for government workers, and unemployment benefits. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide in September 2011 for half the members of 285 municipal councils. Also in September, the king announced that women will be allowed to run for and vote in future municipal elections - first held in 2005 - and serve as full members of the advisory Consultative Council. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Conventional short form Saudi Arabia
Local long form
Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Saudiyah
Local short form Al Arabiyah as Saudiyah

Government type
Monarchy

Capital
Name Riyadh
Geographic coordinates 24 39 N, 46 42 E
Time difference
UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions
13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah (Northern Border), Al Jawf, Al Madinah (Medina), Al Qasim, Ar Riyad (Riyadh), Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah (Mecca), Najran, Tabuk

Independence
23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)

Constitution
Governed according to Islamic law; the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was promulgated by royal decree in 1992

Legal system
Islamic (sharia) legal system with some elements of Egyptian, French, and customary law; note - several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Suffrage
21 years of age; male

Executive branch
Chief of state
King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, born 31 December 1935) ; note - the monarch is both chief of state and head of government
Head of government
King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Deputy Prime Minister SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 19 June 2012)
Cabinet
Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many royal family members
Elections
None; the monarchy is hereditary; note - an Allegiance Commission created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but the system will not take effect until after Crown Prince SULTAN becomes king

Legislative branch
Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch to serve four-year terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent to introduce elections for a third of the Majlis al-Shura incrementally over a period of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced

Judicial branch
Supreme Council of Justice

Political parties and leaders
None

Political pressure groups and leaders
Ansar Al Marah (supports women's rights)
Other
Gas companies; religious groups

International organization participation
ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BIS, FAO, G-20, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Adil al-Ahmad al-JUBAYR
Chancery
601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
Telephone [1] (202) 342-3800
FAX [1] (202) 944-3113
Consulate(s) general Houston, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission Ambassador James B. SMITH
Embassy
Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
Mailing address
American Embassy, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
Telephone [966] (1) 488-3800
FAX [966] (1) 488-7360
Consulate(s) general Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)

Flag description
Green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God") above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932; the flag is manufactured with differing obverse and reverse sides so that the Shahada reads - and the sword points - correctly from right to left on both sides
Note
One of only three national flags that differ on their obverse and reverse sides - the others are Moldova and Paraguay

National symbol(s)
Palm tree surmounting two crossed swords

National anthem
Name
"Aash Al Maleek" (Long Live Our Beloved King)
Lyrics/music
Ibrahim KHAFAJI/Abdul Rahman al-KHATEEB
Note
Music adopted 1947, lyrics adopted 1984


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  Saudi Arabia (Riyadh):


  GPS points from Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)

El Adhem El Ghrady Saudi Arabia (general)

Sha`ib At Turfiyah Mintaqat Al Qasim

Wadi Ad Dawnak Mintaqat Al Madinah

Qarat As Saddah Mintaqat Ar Riyad

Qulban Khalifah Saudi Arabia (general)

Ad Dawsarah Mintaqat Al Qasim

Zibayir Al Mijaddar Al Mintaqah Ash Sharqiyah

Al Khunaifa Mintaqat Al Jawf




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