Backgrounder: Basic facts about Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2009-02-09 11:13:43   Print

    BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- At the invitation of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay a three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia from Tuesday.

    The following are basic facts about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    As the largest country situated on the Arabian Peninsula, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is bordered with Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. The Persian Gulf lies to the northeast and the Red sea to its west.

    Saudi Arabia, which means "the desert of happiness" in Arabic, covers a territory of 2,250,000 square km and has a population of 24.6 million.

    Its official language is Arabic, and English is also widely spoken in the country.

    The kingdom practices Islam as its national religion, with 85 percent of its population being Sunni Muslims and the rest being Shiite Muslims.

    In the 7th century, followers of the Prophet Mohammad established on the land where now Saudi stands the Arab Empire, which came to its heyday in the 8th century, spanning three continents, namely Europe, Africa and Asia.

    The empire came under the Ottoman Turkish Empire rule in the 16th century. In the 19th century, British troops invaded the territory and divided it into Nejd and Hejaz.

    King of Nejd Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud seized control of Hejaz in 1924, unified the Arabian Peninsula and announced the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

    Saudi is the world's No.1 oil exporter and has the world's largest confirmed oil reserves. It is also rich in natural gas, gold, copper, iron and aluminium, and other mineral resources..

    Its major crops are wheat, corn, rice, citrus fruits, grapes and jujube.

    The country mainly exports crude oil and oil products and imports mechanical equipment, food, textile and chemical products.

    China and Saudi established diplomatic ties in July, 1990. Friendly cooperation between the two sides has since developed smoothly and the two-way trade topped 41.8 billion U.S. dollars in2008, representing an increase of 64.78 percent over the previous year.

Editor: Sun Yunlong
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