Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is an Arab country at the northeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula. The country has 17,820 square kilometers (6,880 square miles) of land with a population estimated at 4,266,651, which includes over one million Kuwaitis and more than two million expatriates.
The previous official census recording the population of Kuwait occurred in 2005 and showed 2,213,403 million people living in the country with a population density of 200.2 people per square kilometer (518.4 people per square mile).
While 70% of the country's population is comprised of expatriates, about 60% of the total population is Arab, which includes expatriates. The largest expat communities in the country are Indians and Egyptians. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of native Kuwaitis increased only 3.3% while the number of foreigners increased 6.7%. The government and people of Kuwait view the high level of non-national workers in the country as a serious problem, which led to an announcement in 2013 that Kuwait would attempt to reduce the number of expatriates in the country by 100,000 per year over the next decade.
There are a number of native groups in Kuwait, including Arabs from Najd, Iraq, Bahrain and eastern Arabia, as well as ethnic Persians. The Baharna ethnic group is the indigenous people of the Bahrain and Eastern Province and Saudi Arabia, while the Najrdis are Sunni Arabs from Najd in central Arabia. Estimates from 2013 break down the ethnic groups as:
- Kuwait 31.3%
- other Arab 27.9%
- South Asian 37.8%
- African 1.9%
- other 1.1%
The number of Indians in Kuwait totals 825,000, which includes Indian expatriates and Kuwaiti citizens of Indian origin or descent. Indians represent the largest community, many of whom work in business and service fields. The Indian population alone is seen as an extension of Kuwaiti heritage in India, and their large population is not viewed as a problem. Egyptians are the largest Arab community in Kuwait with a population of over 500,000.
The non-national population of Kuwait is estimated as follows:
- Indians, 825,000
- Egyptians, 517,973
- Bangladeshis, 181,265
- Syrians, 140,000
- Pakistanis, 126,000
- Filipinos, 185,788
- Sri Lankans, 130,000
- Ethiopians, 74,000
- Jordanian and Palestinian, 10,000
- Nepalians, 62,000
- Iranians, 50,000
- Lebanese, 42,000
- Indonesians, 8,887
- Iraqis, 16,000
- Afghans, 15,000
- Americans, 13,000 (30,000 including armed forces)
- Yemeni, 11,000
25.32% of Kuwait's population is under the age of 15; 15.21% are between the age of 15 and 24; 52.32% are between 25 and 54; 4.82% are between 55 and 64 and just 2.33% of the population is 65 and older. The median age in Kuwait is currently 29 years. The population pyramid of Kuwait shows an unbalanced structure for working-age groups due to high immigration rates and a large reliance on foreign labor.
Kuwait Religion, Economy and Politics
Most people in Kuwait are Muslim and Arabic is the official language of the nation, however there are about 450,000 expatriate Christians, 600,000 Hindus, and 100,000 Buddhists. About 70% of the Muslims in Kuwait are Sunni while 30% are Shia.
Kuwait has a high life expectancy, as well as low maternal and infant mortality rates. These numbers come in at a life expectancy of 78.2 years of age, a maternal mortality rate of 4/100,000 live births, and an infant mortality rate of 7 deaths per 1,000 live births. In addition, the total fertility rate is 2.48 children born per woman while the contraceptive prevalence is relatively high. It's estimated that the total fertility will decline to reach 2.1 (the same as the replacement level fertility) by 2035, while the youth population will also decline.
Kuwait Population History
The land that is now Kuwait was part of the Ottoman Empire in the 1600s, with settlers arriving in the area 100 years later. Fearing that Turkey would try to take control of the country, the government in Kuwait struck a deal to become a protectorate of Britain in 1899.
Oil reserves were found in the country in 1937, significantly altering Kuwait's economy and allowing them to improve their infrastructure. Kuwait became independent of Britain in 1961 and they joined the Arab League. Kuwait supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, but ten years later Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait, leading to UN-backed aerial bombings in both Iraq and Kuwait. A second war with Iraq began around 2003 with the US leading an oust of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.