Arab World


17. Arabia Saudi > Area and Population



Saudi Arabia occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Yemen, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE to the south, and Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait to the north. The Red Sea borders its west coast and the Persian Gulf its east coast. The total area of the country is about 2,253,000 sq. km or 865,000 sq. miles. The Kingdom is a plateau sloping eastward from a mountain range extending along its western edge.

The country is generally arid and barren. The only area with significant regular rainfall is the high mountain area in the south-west. The rest of the country is desert with areas of numerous but widely scattered oases in dry stream beds that flood on a few occasions every year. There are no rivers, no forests and only a few permanent pools or small lakes.

It is extremely hot in the summers, but can be cold at night in the desert. Nearer the coast temperatures are more moderate with high humidity.

To view a map, visit: Saudi Arabia map.


The population in 2007 was estimated to be 24.7 million, up from the 2000 estimation of 22.1 million. This figure includes around 6 million non-nationals who are living in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 34 per cent of the population are under 14 years of age; the majority (approximately 62 per cent) of the population are between 15 and 60 years; only 4 per cent of the population are above 60. The population growth rate was estimated in 2007 as 2.5 per cent. Net migration in Saudi Arabia is approximately -3.8 / 1,000.

Major cities are Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Dammam, Jubayl, and Buraydah. Nomadic life is now the exception rather than the rule. The population of Riyadh is currently 4.5 million. This is expected to double by 2020. As of 2007, 81 per cent of the population lived in urban areas.

The official language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken in the business world.


The birth rate in the same year was 30.0 births per 1,000 of the population; the death rate was 3.0 deaths per 1,000 population. The total fertility rate in 2007 was 3.4 per female. Average life expectancy was 69 years for males and 74 years for females. Healthy life expectancy was 62 years. (Source: WHO)


September 23: Saudi National Day

There are two official holidays in the Islamic calendar.
Eid Al-Fitr: 25th day of Ramadan which lasts until the 5th day of the following month (starts 11 August 2010 / 30 August 2011)
Eid Al-Adha: the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) which runs from the fifth to the fifteenth of the month Zul Hijjah. (starts 17 November 2010 / 6 November 2011)

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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