Qatar Travel Information

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Facts About Qatar

Background: Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the amir who had ruled the country since 1972. He was overthrown by his son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, in a bloodless coup in 1995. In 2001, Qatar resolved its longstanding border disputes with both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Oil and natural gas revenues enable Qatar to have a per capita income not far below the leading industrial countries of Western Europe.
Government type: traditional monarchy
Capital: Doha
Currency: 1 Qatari rial (QAR) = 100 dirhams

Geography of Qatar

Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 25 30 N, 51 15 E
total: 11,437 sq km
land: 11,437 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 60 km
border countries: Saudi Arabia 60 km
Coastline: 563 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: as determined by bilateral agreements, or the median line
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: desert; hot, dry; humid and sultry in summer
Terrain: mostly flat and barren desert covered with loose sand and gravel
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Qurayn Abu al Bawl 103 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 5%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 94% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 80 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: haze, dust storms, sandstorms common
Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources are increasing dependence on large-scale desalination facilities.
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note: strategic location in central Persian Gulf near major petroleum deposits

People of Qatar

Natives of the Arabian Peninsula, most Qataris are descended from a number of migratory tribes that came to Qatar in the 18th century to escape the harsh conditions of the neighboring areas of Nejd and Al-Hasa. Some are descended from Omani tribes. Qatar has more than 750,000 people, the majority of whom live in Doha, the capital. Foreign workers with temporary residence status make up about four-fifths of the population. Most of them are South Asians, Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians, and Iranians. About 6,000 U.S. citizens resided there as of 2001.

For centuries, the main sources of wealth were pearling, fishing, and trade. At one time, Qataris owned nearly one-third of the Persian Gulf fishing fleet. With the Great Depression and the introduction of Japan's cultured-pearl industry, pearling in Qatar declined drastically.

The Qataris are mainly Sunni "Wahhabi" Muslims. Islam is the official religion, and Islamic jurisprudence is the basis of Qatar's legal system. Arabic is the official language, and English is the lingua franca. Education is compulsory and free for all Arab residents 6-16 years old. Qatar has an increasingly high literacy rate.

Population: 863,051 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  25.77%
15-64 years:  71.75%
65 years and over:  2.48% 
Population growth rate: 3.18% 
Birth rate: 15.91 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 4.26 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 20.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 21.44 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  72.62 years
male:  70.16 years
female:  75.21 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.17 children born/woman 
noun: Qatari(s)
adjective: Qatari
Ethnic groups: Arab 40%, Pakistani 18%, Indian 18%, Iranian 10%, other 14%
Religions: Muslim 95%
Languages: Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 79.2%
female: 79.9% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Qatar > Map Economy History