Geographic and Governmental Profile of Oman

Background
The inhabitants of the area of Oman have long prospered on Indian Ocean trade. In the late 18th century, a newly established sultanate in Muscat signed the first in a series of friendship treaties with Britain. Over time, Oman's dependence on British political and military advisors increased, but it never became a British colony. In 1970, QABOOS bin Said Al-Said overthrew the restrictive rule of his father; he has ruled as sultan ever since. His extensive modernization program has opened the country to the outside world while preserving the longstanding close ties with the UK. Oman's moderate, independent foreign policy has sought to maintain good relations with all Middle Eastern countries. Inspired by the popular uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2010-11, Omanis began staging marches and demonstrations to demand economic benefits, an end to corruption, and greater political rights. In February and March 2011, in response to protester demands, QABOOS pledged to create more government jobs and promised to implement economic and political reforms, such as granting legislative and regulatory powers to the Council of Oman and the introduction of unemployment benefits. Also in March, the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged $20 billion in financial aid to Oman and Bahrain over a 10-year period to assist the two nations in their struggle with Arab protests. Amid concessions made to oppositionists, the government during the summer continued to crack down on protests and demonstrations, and increasingly clamped down on the media. In October 2011, QABOOS issued a royal decree expanding the legislative powers of the Council of Oman to draft, amend, and approve legislation.
Location
Middle East, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, and Persian Gulf, between Yemen and UAE
Geographic coordinates
21 00 N, 57 00 E
Continent / Subcontinent
Middle East
Area
total:
309,500 sq km
rank:
71
land:
309,500 sq km
water:
0 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than Kansas
Land boundaries
total:
1,374 km
border countries:
Saudi Arabia 676 km, UAE 410 km, Yemen 288 km
Coastline
2,092 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
24 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
Climate
dry desert; hot, humid along coast; hot, dry interior; strong southwest summer monsoon (May to September) in far south
Terrain
central desert plain, rugged mountains in north and south
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Arabian Sea 0 m
highest point:
Jabal Shams 2,980 m
Natural resources
petroleum, copper, asbestos, some marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, natural gas
Land use
arable land:
0.12%
permanent crops:
0.14%
other:
99.74% (2005)
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Irrigated land
590 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
1.36 cu km/yr (7%/2%/90%)
per capita:
529 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
summer winds often raise large sandstorms and dust storms in interior; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
rising soil salinity; beach pollution from oil spills; limited natural freshwater resources
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
strategic location on Musandam Peninsula adjacent to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Country name
conventional long form:
Sultanate of Oman
conventional short form:
Oman
local long form:
Saltanat Uman
local short form:
Uman
former:
Muscat and Oman
Government type
monarchy
Capital
name:
Muscat
geographic coordinates:
23 37 N, 58 35 E
time difference:
UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
11 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazat); Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Buraymi, Al Wusta, Az Zahirah, Janub al Batinah (Al Batinah South), Janub ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah South), Masqat (Muscat), Musandam, Shamal al Batinah (Al Batinah North), Shamal ash Sharqiyah (Ash Sharqiyah North), Zufar (Dhofar)
Independence
1650 (expulsion of the Portuguese)
Constitution
none; note - on 6 November 1996, Sultan QABOOS issued a royal decree promulgating a basic law considered by the government to be a constitution which, among other things, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens
Legal system
mixed legal system of Anglo-Saxon law and Islamic law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
21 years of age; universal; note - members of the military and security forces by law are not allowed to vote
Executive branch
chief of state:
Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
Sultan and Prime Minister QABOOS bin Said Al-Said (sultan since 23 July 1970 and prime minister since 23 July 1972)
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the monarch
elections:
the Ruling Family Council determines a successor from the Sultan's extended family; if the Council cannot form a consensus within three days of the Sultan's death or incapacitation, the Defense Council will relay a predetermined heir as chosen by the Sultan
Legislative branch
bicameral Council of Oman or Majlis Oman consists of Majlis al-Dawla or upper chamber (71 seats; members appointed by the monarch; has only advisory powers) and Majlis al-Shura or lower chamber (84 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms; body has authority to draft legislation but is subordinate to the Sultan)
elections:
last held on 15 October 2011 (next to be held in October 2015)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; note - three prominent figures from the spring 2011 protests won seats; one woman also won a seat
Judicial branch
Supreme Court
the nascent civil court system, administered by region, has judges who practice secular and sharia law
Political parties and leaders
political parties are illegal
Political pressure groups and leaders
none
International organization participation
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad al-MUGHAIRI
chancery:
2535 Belmont Road, NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 387-1980
FAX:
[1] (202) 745-4933
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires W. Johann SCHMONSEES
embassy:
Jameat A'Duwal Al Arabiya Street, Al Khuwair area, Muscat
mailing address:
P. O. Box 202, P.C. 115, Madinat Sultan Qaboos, Muscat
telephone:
[968] 24-643-400
FAX:
[968] 24-699771
Flag description
three horizontal bands of white, red, and green of equal width with a broad, vertical, red band on the hoist side; the national emblem (a khanjar dagger in its sheath superimposed on two crossed swords in scabbards) in white is centered near the top of the vertical band; white represents peace and prosperity, red recalls battles against foreign invaders, and green symbolizes the Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountains) and fertility
National symbol(s)
Khanjar dagger superimposed on two crossed swords
National anthem
name:
"Nashid as-Salaam as-Sultani" (The Sultan's Anthem)
lyrics/music:
Rashid bin Uzayyiz al KHUSAIDI/James Frederick MILLS, arranged by Bernard EBBINGHAUS
adopted 1932; new words were written after QABOOS bin Said al Said gained power in 1970; the anthem was first performed by the band of a British ship as a salute to the Sultan during a 1932 visit to Muscat; the bandmaster of the HMS Hawkins was asked to write a salutation to the Sultan on the occasion of his visiting the ship
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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