The State of Kuwait (Dawlat al-Kuwayt) is a sovereign Arab emirate situated in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north and lies on the northwestern shore of the Arabian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic "akwat", the plural of "kout", meaning fortress built near water. The emirate covers an area of 17,820 square kilometres (6,880 sq mi) and has a population of about 2.7 million.

The Bani Utbah tribe were the first permanent Arab settlers in the region and laid the foundation of the modern emirate. By 19th century, Kuwait came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire and after the World War I, it emerged as an independent sheikhdom under the protection of the British Empire. Kuwait's large oil fields were discovered in the late 1930s.

Kuwait - After Independence

After Kuwait gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1961, the nation's oil industry saw unprecedented economic growth. In 1990, Kuwait was invaded and annexed by neighboring Iraq. The seven month-long Iraqi occupation came to an end after a direct military intervention by United States-led forces. Nearly 773 Kuwaiti oil wells were set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi army resulting in a major environmental and economic catastrophe. Kuwait's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war and had to be rebuilt.

Geography and Topography

Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. There is little difference in the country's altitude with the highest point in the country being 306 m (1,004 ft) above sea-level. It has nine islands, all of which with the exception of Failaka Island, are uninhabited. With an area of 860 km2 (330 sq mi), the Bubiyan is the largest island in Kuwait and is connected to the rest of the country by a 2,380 m (7,808 ft) long bridge. The land area is considered arable and sparse vegetation is found along its 499 km long coastline. Kuwait City is located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbor.

Climate in Kuwait

Kuwait is a desert country famous for its very dry and hot climate. Kuwait shares European weather patterns but is hotter and drier. Summers (April to October) are hot and humid with very little rain. Winters (November to March) are cool with limited rain. Springs are cool and pleasant. Summer starts in Kuwait from the month of April and continues till October. The summer months are extremely hot and dry and while the normal day temperature is 33°C, it rises up to 51°C, i.e. 124°F, during the months of June, July and August, with very low humidity. The months of April and October are less harsh with temperatures slowly dropping below the 40s to lower 30s. Another feature of Kuwait’s climate is that it never rains during the summer months and from June to September are regarded as the driest months.

Climate of Kuwait remains pleasant in the months of March, April and May which is spring time in Kuwait. During this season, which is also known by the name 'sarayat' season, the temperature remains neither hot nor cold but you might get to see thunderstorms. It is very common to have cloudbursts during the spring evenings though the mornings might have been bright and sunny. These cloudbursts bring sudden heavy rain damaging roads and houses. You might find sandstorms lasting for some days continuously. Due to this weather condition in Kuwait, you will find very little vegetation in the country. The most common form of vegetation that can be seen are desert flowers and shrubs, among which, 'arfaj' is the most common.

Culture in Kuwait

The Kuwaiti culture, just like many other Arabian cultures, takes great pride in its hospitality. Guests in people’s homes are treated with great warmth and respect. Hosts exhibit their polished manners and expect the same from their guests, while conversing and setting a good example through their behaviours.

Kuwaitis traditionally greet each other by shaking hands and kissing the cheeks. However, men and women do not exchange more than a possible handshake to greet each other in respect, unless the man and the woman are related to one another. It is also customary for people greeting each other to ask a long series of questions concerning one's health, that of their relatives, their jobs, etc., such as asking how good they are feeling, in order to relax the other person and give a sense of intimacy. Usually, elders are greeted first as a sign of respect.

Hospitality in Kuwait is often portrayed through the serving of tea and coffee. It is very uncommon for a guest to enter a house, office, or even some stores without being offered tea or coffee. In Kuwaiti bedouin custom, a guest's refusal of tea, coffee, or such offerings is sometimes viewed as insulting by the host, as it is as if the guest is denying the host's efforts of being hospitable and generous. Common types of teas that are served include chai, black tea, green tea, peppermint, lemon and chamomile. The tea is prepared in a kettle and brought up to a boil before being served. Sometimes, the black tea is prepared with cardamom; also, milk may be added as a subsidiary to sugar. The hot drinks are usually accompanied by a selection of nuts or sweets such as baklawa, and later, possibly a cold drink.