Saudi Arabia is a desert country encompassing most of the Arabian Peninsula, with Red Sea and Persian Gulf coastlines. Known as the birthplace of Islam, it’s home to the religion’s 2 most sacred mosques: Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, destination of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, and Medina’s Masjid an-Nabawi, burial site of the prophet Muhammad. Riyadh, the capital, is a skyscraper-filled metropolis.
Dialing code: 966
ISO code: SAU
Currency: Saudi riyal
King: Salman of Saudi Arabia
Neighboring countries: Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan
The area of modern-day Saudi Arabia formerly consisted of four distinct regions: Hejaz, Najd, and parts of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa) and Southern Arabia ('Asir). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. He united the four regions into a single state through a series of conquests beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral
home of his family, the House of Saud. The country has since been an absolute monarchy governed along Islamic lines. Wahhabi Islam has been called "the predominant feature of Saudi culture".Saudi Arabia is sometimes called "the Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam. The Kingdom has a total population of 28.7 million, of which 20 million are Saudi nationals and 8 million are foreigners.
Saudi Arabia is the world's second largest oil producer and largest exporter, and controls the world's second largest hydrocarbon reserves. Backed by its fossil fuels, the kingdom is categorized as a high income economy with a high Human Development Index (HDI), and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies. However, Saudi Arabia has the least diversified economy in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). It is ruled by an authoritarian regime and is ranked as "Not Free" by Freedom House.Saudi Arabia has the fourth highest military expenditure in the world, and in 2010-14, SIPRI found that Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer.
Saudi Arabia is considered a regional and middle power. In addition to the GCC, it is an active member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and OPEC.