Essential Info for Kuwait

Official name: State of Kuwait

Population: 4.2 million

Capital city: Kuwait City

Neighbouring countries: Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north

Geography: Kuwait is a small country with its capital, Kuwait City, located on Kuwait Bay, a natural deep-water harbour. Ninety percent of the population lives within the Kuwait Bay coast. The country has nine islands, all of which, with the exception of Failaka Island, are uninhabited. Sand and oil residue reduced large parts of the Kuwaiti desert to semi-asphalt surfaces. The oil spills during the Gulf War also drastically affected Kuwait's marine resources.

Political system: Constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system

Major religions: Islam is the main religion. Kuwait is a very conservative society which enforces strict Islamic customs. However, other religions are respected and expats are free to practise their own religions.

Main languages: Arabic (official) but English is widely spoken

Money: The currency of Kuwait is the Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD), which is divided into 1,000 fils. There are a number of local and international banks operating in Kuwait and expats are able to open a local account.

Tipping: A service charge of 13 percent is usually added to bills in restaurants and hotels; if not, a tip of 10 percent is acceptable. Additional tipping is only expected in more expensive hotels. Taxi drivers appreciate a small tip for long journeys.

Time: GMT +3

Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. Both the UK-style three-pin and European-style two-pin plugs are in use, with type C and type G sockets.

Internet domain: .kw

International dialling code: +965 plus relevant city code

Emergency contacts: 112

Transport and driving: Although Kuwait has well-kept roads, driving in Kuwait can be hazardous. Cars drive on the right side of the road and road signs are in English and Arabic. Foreigners need an international driving permit to drive in Kuwait. Anyone over the age of 18 may hold a driving licence, meaning there is no restriction on women driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol will result in imprisonment. Fortunately, petrol is cheap.

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