Also known as the Island of the Arabs or the Arabian island, the Arabian Peninsula is a peninsula that is located in Western Asia on the Arabian plate. Sometimes this region is not classified as a peninsula but a subcontinent of the larger Asian continent. With a size of about 1,250,000 square miles and a population of about 77,983,936 people, the Arabian Peninsula is the largest peninsula in the world in terms of size. The peninsula comprises of nine countries: Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Qatar. Among these countries, the largest is Saudi Arabia, which has a size of about 830,000 square miles.
Officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia is also the largest country in the Middle East as well as Asia’s fifth largest country. The nation is bordered by several countries including Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The capital city is Riyadh located near the center of the peninsula. The population stands at about 33 million people. Aside from being the largest country, Saudi Arabia is also the strongest economy in the region with a 2018 nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of a whopping $748 billion.
The population of the country in 2018 is a significant increase from 26.9 million in 2013. However, these figures are only estimates since leaders in the country have been known to overshoot census results. Estimates place the division of the population to be 90% Arabs while the remaining 10% is made up of Afro-Asians. Most of the population, more than 50%, is composed of young people under the age of 25 years.
Arabic is the official language, which has three main variants depending on the region. The most popular is Najdi Arabic with eight million speakers followed by Hejazi Arabic with six million speakers and Gulf Arabic with only 200,000 speakers. Other languages include the Saudi Sign Language for the deaf, Tagalog, Urdu, Egyptian Arabic, and a few others.
Unsurprisingly, almost everyone in the country is a Muslim since it is the state religion. Most of the Muslims are part of the Sunni sect, which has a following ranging from 75% to 90%. The remainder of the population is part of the Shia sect. The Christian population, which is about 1.5 million people, is mostly made up of foreign workers although they cannot openly practice their faith. The Pew Research Centre estimates that there are about 390,000 foreigners practicing Hinduism. Atheists and agnostics are present although they are considered terrorists.
The major driver of the economy in the country is petroleum mining. Saudi Arabia has the second largest global petroleum reserves as well as significant reserves of natural gas. The oil reserves stand at around 260 million barrels, which is about a fifth of the global petroleum reserves. In 2016, the natural resources of the strong economy were valued at a whopping $34.4 trillion. The oil industry contributes about 45% of the state’s nominal GDP while the private sector contributes about 40%. Other driving sectors include agriculture and tourism.