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
Geography of Qatar
Location: Middle East, peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
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.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Qatar > Map Economy History