The State of Qatar (قطر) is an emirate in the Middle East. Situated on a small peninsula off the larger Arabian Peninsula, it borders Saudi Arabia to the south and is otherwise surrounded by the Persian Gulf.

The pronunciation of Qatar in English varies; see List of words of disputed pronunciation.

دولة قطر
Dawlat Qatar
Missing image

Flag of Qatar
National motto: n/a
Missing image

Official language Arabic
Capital Doha
Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani
Prime Minister Sheikh Abdallah ibn Khalifah Al Thani
 - Total
 - percent water
Ranked 162nd
10,360 km²
 - Total (July 2003)
 - Density
Ranked 154th
 - Recognised

September 3, 1971
Currency Qatari Riyal (QR) = 100 dirhams
Time zone UTC +3
National anthem As Salam al Amiri
Internet TLD .qa
Calling Code 974


Main article: History of Qatar

Qatar is one of many new emirates in the Arabian Peninsula. After being dominated by Persians for thousands of years and recently by Bahrain, the Ottoman Turks, and the British, Qatar became an independent state on September 3 1971. Unlike most neighbouring emirates, Qatar declined to become part of either the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia.

Although the peninsular land mass that makes up Qatar has sustained human development for thousands of years, for the bulk of its history the arid climate fostered only short-term settlements by nomadic tribes. Bearing tribal monikers such as the Al Khalifa and the Al Said that would later descend upon the thrones of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia respectively, these clans swept through the Arabian peninsula and camped on the coasts within small fishing and pearling villages. The clans battled each other for lucrative oyster beds and lands, frequently forming and breaking coalitions with one another in efforts for territorial supremacy.

The British initially sought out Qatar and the Persian Gulf as an intermediary vantage point for their colonial interests in India, although the discovery of oil and hydrocarbon some hundred years later would reinvigorate their interest. During the 1800s, the time of Britain?s formative ventures into the region, the Al Khalifa clan reigned over the Qatari peninsula from the off-shore island of Bahrain. Although Qatar was legally a dependency, resentment festered against the Bahraini Al Khalifas along the eastern seaboard in the fishing villages of Doha and Wakrah. In 1867 the Al Khalifas launched a successful effort to quash the Qatari rebels by sending a massive naval force to Wakrah. Bahraini aggression however violated an 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty and the diplomatic response of the British Protectorate set into motion the political forces that would eventuate into the state of Qatar. In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British Protectorate Colonel Lewis Pelly asked to negotiate with an actor from Qatar. The request carried with it a tacit recognition of Qatar?s status as distinct from Bahrain. The man chosen to negotiate with Colonel Pelly was a respected entrepreneur and long-time resident of Doha, Muhammed bin Thani. Muhammed?s clan, the Al Thanis, had been relatively inactive in Gulf politics but the diplomatic foray ensured future participation and dominion as the ruling family, a dynasty that continues to this day. The negotiation results left Qatar with a newfound sense of political self although it did not gain official standing as a British protectorate until 1916.

The Second World War dampened Britain?s old aspirations of a global Empire, especially when India became independent in 1947. Momentum for a similar withdrawal from the Gulf emirates increased during the 1950s and the British welcomed Kuwait?s declaration of independence in 1961. Seven years later when the British officially announced that it would disengage (politically, not economically) from the Gulf in three years, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes however quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition that would evolve into the seven-imarat United Arab Emirates. Thus 1971 marked the inauguration of Qatar as an independent sovereign state.

As of 2005, Qatar is ruled by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who seized control of the country from his father Khalifa in 1995 while the old Emir was on vacation in Switzerland. Under Emir Hamad Qatar has experienced a notable amount of sociopolitical liberalisation, including the enfranchisement of women, a new constitution and the creation of Al Jazeera, the controversial Arabic satellite television news channel.


Main article: Economy of Qatar Before the discovery of oil Qatar was a fishing and pearling region. After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar's pearling industry faltered. It was the discovery of oil, beginning in the 1940s, that completely transformed the nation's economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living, with many social services offered to its citizens and all the amenities of any modern nation.

Qatar's national income is primarily derived from oil and natural gas exports. The country's oil reserves are estimated to be 15 billion barrels (2.4 km³). Qataris' wealth and standard of living are comparable to those of Western European nations. Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the developing world. ($39,607 as of 2005)

Map of Qatar
Map of Qatar


Main article: Geography of Qatar

The Qatari peninsula juts 160 km (100 miles) into the Persian Gulf from Saudi Arabia. Much of the country is a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast is the spectacular Khor al Adaid or 'Inland Sea', an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the Gulf.

The highest point in Qatar is found in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcrops running north-south from Zikrit through Umm Bab to the southern border, and reaching about 90m ASL. This area also contains Qatar's main onshore oil deposits, while the natural gas fields are offshore, to the northwest of the peninsula.


Main article: Demographics of Qatar

Nearly all Qataris are Muslim. Besides ethnic Arabs, much of the population migrated from various nations to work in the country's oil industry. Arabic is the official language, but English is widely understood.


Main article: Culture of Qatar

Qatar is governed explicitly under Wahhabi law and the vast majority of its citizens follow this specific Islamic doctrine. Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was the founder of Wahhabism, a puritanical version of Islam which takes a literal interpretation of the Koran and Sunna. In the 18th century Abd Al-Wahhab forged authority with the Saudi Arabian al-Saud family and purged the "idolatrous" practices of Sufis and Shiite from the kingdom.

Wahhabi Islam was imported from Saudi Arabia to Qatar in the early 20th century when the Al-Thanis realized that converting to the doctrine of their larger neighbor might bode well for regime survival. Perhaps as an effect of the importation, Wahhabism is not as strictly enforced in Qatar as in Saudi Arabia though it still governs a large portion of Qatari mores and rituals. For example, almost all Qatari women wear the black abaya also donned in Saudi Arabia however the style is not ubitiquously imposed on foreigners.

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Countries and territories in the Middle East
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