|Saudi Arabia (ˈsɔːdɪ, ˈsaʊ-)|
|a kingdom in SW Asia, occupying most of the Arabian peninsula between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea: founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud, who united Hejaz and Nejd; consists mostly of desert plateau; large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Official language: Arabic. Official religion: (Sunni) Muslim. Currency: riyal. Capital: Riyadh (royal and administrative), Jiddah (diplomatic). Pop: 24 919 000 (2004 est). Area: 2 260 353 sq km (872 722 sq miles)|
Monarchy occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula, where it is bordered by Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait to the north; the Persian Gulf, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates to the east; Oman to the east and south; Yemen to the south; and the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba to the west. Its capital and largest city is Riyadh.
Note: Saudi Arabia sits on at least one-fourth of the world's known oil reserves, a geological gift that makes this otherwise resource-poor, desert nation very rich and important to the industrial nations of the world.
Note: Overwhelmingly Muslim, the country is ruled by a royal family according to conservative Muslim law.
Note: Saudi Arabia is the location of Mecca and Medina, the two most holy places in the world for Muslims, pilgrimage sites equivalent to the Catholic Rome and the Christian and Jewish Jerusalem.
Note: Saudi Arabia became the major staging ground for United Nations forces seeking to expel Iraq from Kuwait in 1990–1991. (See Persian Gulf War.)