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People and Society






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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People And Society

Noun Saudi(s)
Adjective Saudi or Saudi Arabian

Ethnic groups
Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Arabic (official)

Muslim (official) 100%

Population World Ranking: 46
26,534,504 (July 2012 est.)
Includes 5,576,076 non-nationals

Age structure
0-14 years
29.4% (male 3,939,377/female 3,754,020)
15-64 years
67.6% (male 9,980,253/female 7,685,328)
65 years and over
3% (male 404,269/female 368,456) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 25.7 years
Male 26.7 years
Female 24.4 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 78
1.523% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 94
19.19 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 215
3.32 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 142
-0.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Urban population 82% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
2.2% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
RIYADH (capital) 4.725 million; Jeddah 3.234 million; Mecca 1.484 million; Medina 1.104 million; Ad Dammam 902,000 (2009)

Sex ratio
At birth 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years 1.29 male(s)/female
65 years and over 1.08 male(s)/female
Total population
1.21 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 133
24 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 112
Total 15.61 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 17.92 deaths/1,000 live births
13.19 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 107
Total population 74.35 years
Male 72.37 years
Female 76.42 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 100
2.26 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 140
5% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
0.939 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density
2.2 beds/1,000 population (2008)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 164
0.01% (2001 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids

Hiv/aids - deaths

Obesity - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 5
35.6% (2000)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight World Ranking: 83
5.3% (2005)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 38
5.6% of GDP (2008)

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 86.6%
Male 90.4%
Female 81.3% (2010 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 14 years
Male 14 years
Female 13 years (2009)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 World Ranking: 17
Total 28.2%
Male 23.6%
Female 45.8% (2008)


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  Saudi Arabia (Riyadh):

  GPS points from Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)

Naqa' Abu Krayyalah Al Mintaqah Ash Sharqiyah

Radifat Al Khurma Al Udud Ash Shamaliyah

Di`b Al Wir`an Mintaqat Ar Riyad

Al Jawah Mintaqat Jizan

Jazirat Qishran Saudi Arabia (general)

Sha`ib Al Khunayjah Mintaqat Ha'il

Wadi Asmara Saudi Arabia (general)

As Sinidah Mintaqat Ar Riyad
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