Kuwait Travel Information

Photo Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy governed by the Al Sabah family, which has maintained a dynastic regime since the mid-18th century. Prior to the discovery of oil, power was closely shared with the leading merchant families, but with the wealth acquired from the new resource, the Al Sabah were propelled into a more prominent and powerful role vis-à-vis the traditional merchant class. Since the time of Mubarak the Great (r.1896-1915), rule has by tradition alternated between the descendants of two of his sons, Jabir and Salim. This tradition was broken only in 1965 when Sheikh Sabah Al-Salim Al Sabah followed another Al-Salim as Amir, but was reinstated when the current ruler, Sheikh Christians and other religious minorities enjoy an unusual amount of religious freedom. Kuwait truly exemplifies the words of its constitution, which states that "freedom of belief is absolute," and that "the State protects the freedom of practicing religion in accordance with established customs, provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals." The Christian community's history in Kuwait began in the early 1900's with a number of humanitarian projects conducted by missionaries from the Reformed Church of America. Most notable among them was the establishment of a hospital ("the American Hospital" is still fondly remembered by older Kuwaitis).Jabir Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah, appointed an Al-Salimas Crown Prince. The ruling family holds many key cabinet posts, including the oil, finance, foreign, defense, and interior portfolios. This reflects a marked decline over the last two decades, during which the number of Al Sabah family members in the Cabinet shrank from 11 of 13 to the current 5 out of 16.

Important: Travel to Kuwait may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Kuwait visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: State of Kuwait
Capital city: Kuwait City
Area: 17,818 sq km
Population: 2,646,314
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Languages: Arabic
Religions: Muslim
Government: constitutional emirate
Chief of State: Amir SABAH al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah
Head of Government: Prime Minister JABIR AL-MUBARAK al-Hamad al-Sabah
GDP: 153.5 billion
GDP per captia: 41,700
Annual growth rate: 8.2%
Inflation: 4.7%
Agriculture: fish
Major industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, cement, shipbuilding and repair, water desalination, food processing, construction materials
Natural resources: petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Trade Partners - exports: South Korea 17.7%, India 15.3%, Japan 13.7%, China 9.6%, US 8.4%
Trade Partners - imports: US 12.4%, China 9.7%, Saudi Arabia 8.4%, South Korea 6.5%, India 6.4%, Japan 6.2%, Germany 5%, UAE 4.3%