The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the main players in the Arab world.
Its stature is built on its geographical size (twice that of France and Germany combined), its prestige as the custodian of the birthplace of Islam and its colossus status as an oil producer – with a quarter of the world’s proven reserves under its deserts.
Its importance as an oil exporting nation has made economic interdependence with the West – where the main consumer demand is found – a necessity.
This, in turn, has led to strong political and military relationships that at times have been a source of awkwardness for both sides.
It stands out for its espousal of a puritan version of Sunni Islam, including harsh punishments such as public beheadings, and its restrictions on women.
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Capital: Riyadh
- Population 28.7 million
- Area 2.24 million sq km (864,869 sq miles)
- Major language Arabic
- Major religion Islam
- Life expectancy 73 years (men), 76 years (women)
- Currency Riyal