Saudi Arabia Fast Facts

CNN/ Newswire | 11/8/2017, 7:14 a.m.
Here's a look at Saudi Arabia, a large, oil-rich Middle Eastern country bordering Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, ...
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(CNN) -- Here's a look at Saudi Arabia, a large, oil-rich Middle Eastern country bordering Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medina.

About Saudi Arabia: (from the CIA World Factbook)

Area: 2,149,690 sq km, about one-fifth the size of the United States

Population: 28,571,770 (July 2017 est.). Note: immigrants make up more than 30% of the total population, according to UN data (2015)

Median age: 27.5 years

Capital: Riyadh

Ethnic Groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religion: Muslim (85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shiite, citizens only), Other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh) (2012 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.756 trillion (2016 est.)

GDP per capita: $55,300 (2016 est.)

Unemployment: 5.6% (Saudi men only, 2016 est.)

Other Facts:

Economy -

Saudi Arabia possesses approximately 22% of the world's oil reserves. It is the world's largest exporter of petroleum liquids and relies on the oil industry for almost half of its GDP.

Saudi Arabia was a founding member of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) in 1960.

More than 30% of Saudi Arabia's population is made up of foreign workers.

Foreign Relations -

Since the end of World War II, Saudi Arabia and the United States have maintained a relationship based on an exchange of oil for security. Their mutual interests have included the free flow of oil, and fighting the spread of communism and extremist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS. Saudi Arabia and the United States have not agreed on support for Israel or engagement with Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Iran.

Saudi Arabia was a founding member of the Arab League in 1945.

It currently maintains close ties with its neighbor, Bahrain, and helped the Sunni monarchy there put down an Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Saudi Arabia was a longtime supporter of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak before his overthrow in 2011. It did not support the successor government of Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood. After Morsy's overthrow in 2013, Saudi Arabia returned its support to new president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

After many years of strained relations, Saudi Arabia began constructing a fortified fence along its 1,060-mile border with Yemen in 2003. This was in response to the ongoing unrest in Yemen due to Shiite Houthi rebels and terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

It has also started work on a 600-mile barrier along the border with Iraq, to prevent border incursions by the terrorist group ISIS.

Religion -

The Wahhabi, or Salafi, branch of Sunni Islam has been closely tied to the Saud family since the 18th century. When the Saud family established the modern country of Saudi Arabia in the 1930s, the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam become the country's official state-sponsored religion.

One of the five pillars of Islam is performing Hajj, by traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once. Approximately two million people a year make the pilgrimage.