Which Countries Border Kuwait?

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe on August 16 2018 in World Facts

A map showing Kuwait's position in Western Asia.
A map showing Kuwait's position in Western Asia.

Kuwait is a 6,880 square mile nation located in Western Asia. The capital of Kuwait is the aptly-named Kuwait City. Saudi Arabia and Iraq are the countries that border Kuwait.

The country is home to around 4 million people. Since the 2000 census, the country's population has nearly doubled. Over the course of Kuwait's history, many communities called the nation home most notably in 1613 when Kuwait town was established in the location of present-day Kuwait city. The city flourished and rapidly expanded its borders due to trade with various areas such as India and Baghdad. Through expert manoeuvring, the leaders of Kuwait ensured that their city controlled part of a vital trade route that linked Aleppo to the Persian Gulf. Kuwait increased its influence in maritime trade through the help of Iraqi merchants who were fleeing the siege of Basra. Kuwait's territory was declared a protectorate of the British government in 1899 and retained the status until 1961.

Kuwait had a history of conflict along the border while it was a British protectorate with a notable example being from 1920 to 1921 when Kuwait and Najd were at war. One of the most influential people in determining the boundaries of Kuwait was Percy Cox who in his capacity as the high commissioner of Baghdad put in place the Uqair Protocol of 1922 to identify the boundaries around Kuwait as well as reduce the Bedouin raids into the territory of Kuwait. Kuwait's land boundary extends for about 295 miles and is shared with two nations of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The borders of Kuwait have been subject of several controversies as both neighboring nations believed that they had a right to rule over Kuwait.

Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Border

Kuwait's shortest land border is its boundary with Saudi Arabia which extends for about 137 miles to the southwest of Kuwait. The two nations have a turbulent history dating back to the period immediately after the First World War when Saudi Arabia was under the rule of Ibn Saud, the nation's first leader. Ibn Saud believed that Saudi Arabia had a historical right to rule over Kuwait which the leaders of Kuwait did not accept. The conflict worsened the relationship between Kuwait and Najd which at the time was already strained. At the height of the conflict, Kuwait and Najd went to war which caused significant casualties to the people of Kuwait. During several battles in the war, the Kuwaitis were heavily outnumbered such as in the Battle of Hamdh in which the Kuwaitis only had 100 cavalrymen as well as 200 infantrymen against a force of more than 2000 soldiers. Kuwait's territorial integrity was secured because the leaders asked for help from the British during the Battle of Jahra. The resulting negotiations resulted in the setting the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as the creation of a neutral zone between the two nations. The neutral zone lasted until the discovery of oil when both countries agreed to split the territory with an agreement finalized in 1969.

Saudi Arabia was one of the nations that rose to aid Kuwait in 1990 after forces from Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait work together in some international organizations such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. Despite the cooperation between the two nations, a few issues remain such as the ownership of a couple of islands, for example, Umm al Maradim. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait maintain close diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia having an embassy in Kuwait's capital; the government of Kuwait is represented by an embassy located in Riyadh as well as a consulate in Jeddah.

Kuwait-Iraq Border

The World Factbook lists Kuwait's border with Iraq as its most extended land boundary at approximately 157 miles long. The two nations had a tumultuous past dating back to 1958 when Abd-Allāh as-Salīm who at the time was the leader of Kuwait, was invited to the city of Baghdad to join the projected Arab-Hāshimite Union as well as discuss the nation's future. At the time Kuwait was still a British protectorate, and the actions of the Iraqi government angered the British. Immediately the British granted Kuwait independence, Iraq staked its claim to Kuwaiti territory. The government of Kuwait heavily contested the decision of the Iraqi government as they believed that Kuwait was a sovereign nation independent of any other country. In 1961, the government of Iraq threatened to invade Kuwait; however, other Arab countries threatened to raise an army against Iraq.

The conflict escalated in 1973 when Iraq posted several units of its army close to the border with Kuwait which was settled mainly due to the involvement of Saudi Arabia. Oil has been the primary source of conflict between the two nations which resulted in Saddam Hussein organizing an invasion into Kuwait. Kuwait's production of oil threatened the Iraqi economy which was the principal justification behind the invasion. The nation of Kuwait fell to the Iraqi army after only two days of excessive combat between their respective armies. The international community played a significant role in liberating Kuwait from the Iraqis. A barrier was established along the border of the two nations to prevent Iraq from once again invading Kuwait. For a while, the relationship between the two states was exceptionally hostile until the Ba'ath party was removed from power. One of the most significant steps that Kuwait took to mend the relationship with Iraq was the re-establishing of diplomatic ties which was supported by some Kuwaiti politicians such as Saleh Ashour. Currently, Kuwait maintains an active embassy in Iraq's capital Baghdad as well as a consulate in Erbil. The government of Iraq, on the other hand, has only a single representation in Kuwait City.

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