Saudi Arabia, formally known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a Western Asian Arab kingdom that occupies the majority of the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is the fifth-largest state in Asia and the second-largest in the Arab world after Algeria, with a land area of about 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi). Saudi Arabia is bounded to the north by Jordan and Iraq, to the northeast by Kuwait, to the east by Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, to the southeast by Oman, and to the south by Yemen. The Gulf of Aqaba separates it from Israel and Egypt. It is the only country having both a Red Sea and a Persian Gulf shoreline, and the majority of its topography is dry, harsh desert or desolate landforms. Saudi Arabia is the home of Arabs and Islam, and is often referred to as “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” in reference to the two holiest sites in Islam, Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina). In Saudi Arabia, Arabic is the only official language.
Historically, Saudi Arabia was divided into four different regions: Hejaz, Najd, and portions of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa) and Southern Arabia (‘Asir). Ibn Saud established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. Through a series of victories that began in 1902 with the acquisition of Riyadh, the ancestral seat of his family, the House of Saud, he unified the four territories into a single state. Since then, Saudi Arabia has been an absolute monarchy, essentially a hereditary dictatorship ruled by Islamic principles. The Kingdom has a total population of 28.7 million people, including 20 million Saudis and 8 million foreigners.
Petroleum was found in 1938, and it was followed by many additional discoveries, mostly in the Eastern Province. Since then, Saudi Arabia has grown to become the world’s biggest oil producer and exporter, with the world’s second largest oil reserves and sixth greatest gas reserves. The kingdom is classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank, with a high Human Development Index, and is the only Arab nation to be a member of the G-20 major economies. However, Saudi Arabia’s economy is the least diverse in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with no major service or manufacturing sectors (apart from the extraction of resources). Saudi Arabia, a monarchical monarchy, has the world’s fourth highest military spending, and SIPRI reported that Saudi Arabia was the world’s second biggest weapons importer in 2010–14. Saudi Arabia is regarded as a regional and middle-power power. It is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and OPEC, in addition to the GCC.